2005's Take Me To Your Leader was Hawkwind's 23rd studio album, and actually at the time their first in 8 years. Joining mainstay Dave Brock (guitar, vocals, keyboards) for the album was Alan Davey (bass, vocals, keyboards), Richard Chadwick (drums), plus a slew of guests including Simon House (keyboards, violin), Arthur Brown (vocals), Lene Lovich (vocals), James Clemas (organ), Jez Huggett (saxophone), Jason Stuart (keyboards), and Matthew Wright (vocals). It's a high tech, science fiction based affair, with songs about aliens, robots, androids, and space travel, all delivered as only the space rock pioneers can.
As has seemingly been the case with most Hawkwind releases the last 20 years or so, they dip into their past with a re-recording of an old classic, in this instance its the accessible "Spirit of the Age", originally recorded and released on their 1977 album Quark, Strangeness and Charm. This is a fine rendition, though some might ask why, instead of another new song? "Out Here We Are" is wonderful bit of atmospheric synth driven music, with many keyboard layers & washes, plus some smooth sax from Huggett. A really nice instrumental, with some great grooves and intoxicating elements, written by Davey actually. The band lurches into heavy hitting, punk inflected space rock on the raucous "Greenback Massacre", complete with heavy riffs and bleeping synths, before diving into the textured "To Love a Machine", a grinding, swirling rocker that is all Brock, featuring his instantly recognizable vocals, searing electric guitar licks, and gentle acoustic picking as well. Davey & Chadwick also pull out all the stops here with some rumbling grooves underneath it all...easily one of the must hear tracks on the album.
The title track is another futuristic instrumental, this one with some trance & techno elements going on, while the Chadwick penned "Digital Nation" is more of a poppy number with some melodic flute, synth bleeps, and nimble guitar lines. Arthur Brown (yes, from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown!) makes his first appearance on the hard rocker "Sunray", as his distinctive vocals crash against Brock's driving riffs and plenty of frantic rhythms & zig-zagging synths. A fun tune. After the brief instrumental "Sighs" comes the quirky sci-fi ditty "Angela Android", a tune with a great beat and almost danceable at times, but overall kind of silly. "A Letter to Robert" (former member, the late Robert Calvert) is basically a spoken word poem set to some mild space rock arrangements, with Brown again making an appearance. Not much of a 'song', but it's somewhat intriguing.
Great cover art on Take Me To Your Leader further adding to the vibe of the whole thing, which is ultimately a pretty solid album, though perhaps not 'essential' when looking at the overall Hawkwind discography. A few really great tracks though make it worthwhile for the casual space rock fan.
1) Spirit of the Age
2) Out Here We Are
3) Greenback Massacre
4) To Love a Machine
5) Take Me To Your Leader
6) Digital Nation
9) Angela Android
10) A Letter to Robert