Hawkwind Doremi Fasol Latido launched on an unsuspecting world, like all the BEST THINGS THAT HAVE EVER, AND WILL EVER BE, in 1972 is a funny one.  If Hawkwind hadn’t released, for my money their best ever album* a mere 6 months later, Space Ritual, featuring (almost) all the same songs, but better, then this would probably be lauded as Hawkwind’s best LP, easily.  As it is, it’s a good contender for Hawkwind’s best studio LP and easily joint second for their best rock LP ever.

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My copy of Doremi Fasol Latido is just a cheap 80’s reissue and so it’s missing the nice inner sleeve and poster that the original ones have, all those Silver Surfer-style beings blasting into space, but there’s enough sci-fi wittering on the back cover to clue us in regardless.  Ritualistic space chants … the machine logic God Eye See Eye … Bad Vibe squads … the wooded grove of Ladbroke … conscious light meta travel … you know what, gentle reader? it’s almost as though every single person involved in the creation, promotion and promulgation of this album were off their tits on drugs.  Surely not, I say!

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In a rather high-handed fashion I regard 1971’s In Search Of Space as Hawkwind’s first proper album, which is a great album but when they switched their rhythm section out for Lemmy and Simon King they had the necessary propulsion unit to launch them into the heart of the sun.  It’s a point made often by far better writers than me** but the contrast between Pink Floyd and Hawkwind is a great one to savour, both space travellers, both contemporaries, but Hawkwind were so far removed from the Floyd’s rarefied sphere that no true comparison could be borne.  Hawkwind weren’t aspiring architects and sons of the well-to-do, they were greasy, scuzzy Ladbroke Grove squatters and anarchists – this wasn’t peace and love, this was, to paraphrase Lemmy, a black, bloody nightmare!  An escapist nightmare slaked in some of the best swooshy space noises known to mankind.

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Just listen to opener ‘Brainstorm’, Nik Turner’s first solo composition for the band 11 and a half minutes of bludgeoning proto-punk metal, those chords sound less like they were written than that they were discovered carved in some long-lost Mayan codex.  Subtlety didn’t get past the doorman here*^, we are slamming down the same cacophonous streets as In Search Of Space ‘You Shouldn’t Do That’, with some equally great sax squonking too.  I love ‘Brainstorm’ for its total whiteout, IQ-shutdown, numb-skulled repetition, if we’re headed to space here it’s via active service in the engine room, hallucinatory fumes and all.

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I grew up loving the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock, so imagine how excited I was when I found out that he used to collaborate with Hawkwind? ‘Space Is Deep’ is currently my fave track on Doremi Fasol Latido and based on a poem of his.  Dave Brock, a man who never seems to get enough kudos either as a guitarist, or as a vocalist, does both brilliantly here, his acoustic strumming complementing his hoarse vocals perfectly.  What I think Brock does better than absolutely anyone is chord changes, steering the whole band from section to section, you can hear it in any live Hawkwind you care to listen to but ‘Space Is Deep’ shows it brilliantly too, about three and a bit minutes in when the song’s main theme rises over the horizon and the drums kick in … it gives me Goosebumps.  This is such a delicate, carefully crafted track, a great contrast to the opener; if not to Del Dettmar’s keyboard interlude ‘One Change’.

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‘Lord Of Light’ is up next, another great fantasy-based chugging space rocker, Roger Zelazny this time not Moorcock and again another really good impassioned vocal from Brock.  Then the mood changes gear brilliantly through the acoustic excellence of ‘Down Through the Night’, with its downwards spiralling chords and lyrics:

As we spin through the night
With ever-increasing might
Down down and down
Down down and down

Then we hit one of Hawkwind’s best moments ever^^ ‘Time We Left (This World Today)’; only bettered by the Space Ritual version.  Starting as a monumental call and response, this just sounds ancient – I can picture Neolithic dudes hammering out primitive versions of this track, using boulders and bones, in all my favourite stone circles – aiming to ascend to a state of frenzied, inebriated enlightenment / cop a feel of Neolithic dudette by torchlight.  The band stretch the music and the words so much here that the syllables just become meaningless and mushy, like the worst inarticulate trip you can imagine, zoning you out into the solar system before reeling you back in with a vengeance.  Turner’s sax skronk plays to good effect here, adding a different, random element, stopping the whole thing becoming too predictable, too linear.  Zeus alone knows how many drugonauts, at Zeus alone knows how many festivals, have temporarily left this world to the sound of this tune before orbiting at blinding speeds around far-flung galaxies – a fair number of them are still out there I’d warrant.

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The closer ‘The Watcher’ is a solo number by one ‘Lemme Kilmister’, a great, sinister stripped-back lament.  The watcher is a God-like figure who seems contemptuous of humanity’s avarice and neglect of their own planet, like a jaundiced version of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby created race of beings who observe the galaxy’s species and maintain strict neutrality.  I love how lost and fragile Lemmy sounds on this track.

And that’s your lot unless you own one of the myriad CD reissues of Doremi Fasol Latido that add all manner of tracks, personally I prefer the heft and discipline of the original LP; but there again I would say that wouldn’t I?  That I love this LP is a given but it isn’t without its’ faults, chief of which is the slightly wobbly production and the occasionally thin sound during the longer tracks, the band apparently weren’t happy with the sonics of the newly created Rockfield Studios where this was recorded and this is possibly one reason why the Space Ritual versions have so much extra weight and bass.

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Easily one of my Top 10 LPs to play with the lights off^*, this is a great rock album and sounds brilliant played on a cheap tape deck at night on a beach, trust me.  If it were a spaceship it would be a battle-scarred freighter, drifting between systems, crewed by the insubordinate dregs of the Interplanetary Navy, what more could you possibly want?

Time we left
This world today
Time we lived
This world today
Time we left
This world today
Time we lived
This world today

572 Down.

*I may be biased because I work a couple hundred yards away from the site of Liverpool Stadium (knocked down in 1985), I swear on certain summer’s evenings when the wind is blowing the right way you can hear the ghostly chords of ‘Down Through The Night’ thrumming through the air. True story.

**and previously by me too.

*^there’s a strict ‘No Wusses’ policy in operation.

^^some oddballs even named their blogs after it.

^*what’s your favourite non-Floyd one?

41 thoughts on “Realms Beyond The Sun

  1. Try as I might, I just can’t break through with Hawkwind. It seems like I should love them, too. Is there a vitamin or supplement I need to start taking? I really want to like them.

  2. I don’t have any Hawkwind here (I know, I know). I do give them points for a fun album title, though. And full marks to you, sir, for yet another excellent write-up. I’m all for sf in music.

      1. Oh my YES! I have our glorious and infernal HMO to thank for pointing me towards that Solstafir Otta. EPIC! I have the fancy (evil silver disc) version that comes in the box with the flag and badge and an extra disc. Love it love it love it!

  3. Ah Doremi Fasol Latido and what a clever album title it is. Time We Left This World Today is not just a great song it is a statement of intent and was the chant that began every weekend for many years.

    The version on Space Ritual 2, which gets an undeserved bad reputation, is longer and contains sections of Paranoia and get’s really terrifying. I can imagine drug crazed youth imploding as the bass churns along with that relentless riff pummeling your brain into submission as the squarking sax drives you over the edge to a dervish like state . Not that I ever experienced that of course.

    1. Neat – my mates and I always listened to ‘Movin On Up’ before going out – often it was way better than the night out.

      I’ve never heard SR2 – put off by its (undeserved) bad reputation. As for all that dervish-like over the edge stuff … me neither mate. Honest.

  4. A friend of mine nabbed a copy of this for a £1 or so a few months back while we were having a browse round the ol’ record shops. He was mighty excited, but that excitement was lost on me. Until now. Sounds pretty marvellous! Might need to go find my own copy now!

    1. £1 – wow, what a Goddamn bargain! If you want to jet off for the stars, economy class, then this is the way you go.

      Anyway, you don’t get to dodge the lights out question – what’s your pick?

    1. Everyone needs this one, or Space Ritual.

      Wonderful lights out choice too – its the storm and the bell at the beginning that do it.

  5. Hi Joe,
    I’ve been looking for some ritualistic space chants! How did you know? I’m only sad that there are no haunted concert stadium sites in my immediate vicinity.

      1. Part of me revolts at the whole cynical nature of selling us minor variations on what we already own – but there again I’m an out-of-touch oddball with a fixation on the world’s least practical musical format. But there again, they’ve got nice big booklets ….

      2. That’s understandable. I’m of the opinion that if something is perfect then leave it alone. Then again, there may be some previously unreleased awesomeness….

      3. Demos don’t do it for me – bands always stick the best version on the LP and hearing the version of ‘Black Dog’ where he adds two extra ‘Baby’s to the chorus, or the version of ‘D’yer Maker’ where JPJ breaks wind audibly halfway through … my hard-earned is staying in my wallet.

      1. Just gotta double the tasty beverages you’d planned for the listening session, and yer all set!

        Also: Danica, total shout-out for HotH as this sort of listening experience too. Great call!

  6. Space buddy, I’m with you completely from the thundering drums of ‘Brainstorm’ to the mournful conclusion (except not on the 2001 EMI CD version, which includes the wonderfully scary ‘Urban Guerrilla’ and ‘Brainbox Pollution’ – shit-hot bonuses I’m sure you’ll agree). It’s a stellar trip, man.

    I’ve had this nestling up to White Hills H-p1 for a ‘Then and Now’ post for the last few weeks. Haven’t got to it yet ‘cos I’ve spent so much time chasing album details for a car-cover post. Guess you know the score.

    Anyway, wonderful album, enthusiastically written up and thoroughly endorsed from these quarters too.

    PS. Lights Out = TD’s Phaedra.

    1. Great bonuses, but as always you lose the shape of the original – a real bugbear of mine, but there you again I’m a lonely Luddite.

      Great choice for lights out, but I guess you know the score.

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