Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music

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Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music
Studio album by Hawkwind
Released 27 August 1976
Recorded February–March 1976
Genre Space rock, Progressive rock, hard rock[1]
Length 38:31
47:33 (reissue)
Label Charisma
Producer Hawkwind, recorded by Mark Dearnley.[1]
Hawkwind chronology
Warrior on the Edge of Time
(1975)Warrior on the Edge of Time1975
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music
Quark, Strangeness and Charm
(1977)Quark, Strangeness and Charm1977

Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music is the sixth studio album by the British rock band Hawkwind, released in 1976. It reached No. 33 on the UK album charts.

The title makes references to old science fiction magazines (Astounding and Amazing Stories), the concept being that each piece of music (and its title) would be interpreted as an individual science fiction story. The record cover is a parody of the cover of these magazines, while the inner sleeve carried small ads, with each band member having their own product (e.g. Dr Brock's cure for piles, Paul Rudolph's Manly Strapon, and Simon King's Pleasure Primer).

This album marked the start of a new era for Hawkwind, having left the management of Douglas Smith for Tony Howard and changed record companies from United Artists Records to Charisma Records. Musically, the dirty heavy metal lead bass guitar playing of Lemmy was replaced by the cleaner, formally trained bass playing of Paul Rudolph. All members of the band were now contributing to the writing and arrangement of the music leading to more width in style, and the recording and production is better defined than previous albums.[2]

The greatest change is in the return of Robert Calvert, this time as a permanent vocalist rather than the peripheral poet role he occupied on Space Ritual. Not only did he bring crafted lyrics to the band, but he was intent on turning live shows into a piece of music theatre with specific characters for him to act out, Calvert explaining in a 1976 interview that "We're writing numbers now with visual ideas in mind, rather than trying to think of things to impose on numbers we've already got. We're trying to get the visual side of the band focussed on individuals rather than on screen projections. Nik, Dave and myself are, in some parts of the show, playing the parts of actors... All in all, it works up to quite a nice piece of theatre, spontaneous theatre that is."[3]


"Reefer Madness" lyrics are inspired by the 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film Reefer Madness. It was performed during the tour of the album, appearing on the live album Atomhenge 76, and remained in the set until the formation of the Hawklords in 1978. The song was added to the setlist in 1990/1 to be performed by Bridget Wishart, a version appearing on the live album California Brainstorm.

Calvert had written the lyrics to "Steppenwolf" when Adrian Wagner, for his album Distances Between Us, "wanted a song about living in cities and I was re-reading Hesse's Steppenwolf at the time. It seemed to me that there was a strong myth in it about city life and it gave me the basic idea."[4] It was performed during the tour of the album, appearing on the live album Atomhenge 76, and remained in the band's set until Calvert left in 1978, versions included on Weird Tape 4 and 5. The song has occasionally been re-instated into the live set, between 1982 and 1984 it was performed by Turner, in 1996 by Ron Tree, in 2003 by Arthur Brown and in 2017 by Mr Dibs during the Into The Woods tour.

"City of Lagoons" is a Powell composed instrumental, although erroneously credited to House on the album's release.

"The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon" is an instrumental, its title references Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band's 1967 hit single "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago".

"Kerb Crawler" was released as a single backed by "Honky Dorky" which is the band jamming on "Reefer Madness". There are reportedly two versions of the A-side, the original and a re-mix by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour – it is the latter that appeared on the album.

"Kadu Flyer" lyrics were written by Turner, who credited them to Jamie Mandelkau for legal reasons (Turner was still under contract either to United Artists or Douglas Smith). Calvert is also given a writers credit on some releases. Kadu is an abbreviation of Kathmandu.

"Chronoglide Skyway" is a House composed instrumental, although erroneously credited to Powell on the album's release. It was performed during the tour of the album, appearing on the live album Atomhenge 76.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[5]

Dick Tracy in the NME (6 November 1976) reviewed the album as "Hawkwind are back on form... their music has acquired about fifteen new levels since the old churn-churn days". He highlights "Reefer Madness" as the "stand-out" track and notes that "Simon House has injected a big shot of tuneful keyboarding into the mix".[6]

Track listing[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Reefer Madness" (Calvert, Brock) – 6:03
  2. "Steppenwolf" (Calvert, Brock) – 9:46
  3. "City of Lagoons" (Powell) – 5:09

Side 2[edit]

  1. "The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon" (Rudolph) – 3:37
  2. "Kerb Crawler" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:45
  3. "Kadu Flyer" (Turner, House) – 5:07
  4. "Chronoglide Skyway" (House) – 5:04

Griffin CD bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Honky Dorky" (Hawkwind) – 3:16
  2. "Back on the Streets" (Calvert, Rudolph) – 2:56
  3. "Dream of Isis" (Brock, House, King) – 2:52

Atomhenge CD bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Honky Dorky" (Hawkwind) – 3:18
  2. "Kerb Crawler" [single mix] (Calvert, Brock) – 3:45
  3. "Back on the Streets" [alternate mix] (Calvert, Rudolph) – 3:07
  4. "Dream of Isis" [alternate mix] (Brock, House, King) – 2:57



Release history[edit]

  • August 1976: Charisma, CDS4004, UK vinyl – some copies were printed with the front and back cover reversed. Original copies contained an inner sleeve.
  • August 1976: Charisma, 9211-4004, Canada - disc label says "Amazing Music, Astounding Sounds"
  • March 1983: Charisma, CHC14, UK vinyl
  • April 1989: Virgin, CDSCD 4004, UK CD
  • August 1995: Griffin Music, GCD483-2, USA CD; GCD345-0, USA CD with the Michael Butterwoth The Time of the Hawklords book.
  • 2005: Sunrise Records, LC12774, USA CD
  • January 2009: Atomhenge (Cherry Red) Records, ATOMCD1005, UK CD


  1. ^ "Hawkwind - Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  2. ^ In a 1981 issue of Kerrang!, Dave Brock stated, "I used to mix all our albums when I was tripping, right up until the Astounding Sounds album. Some of those mixes turned out to be really strange, embarrassing some of them."
  3. ^ Sounds, 2 October 1976, Geoff Barton
  4. ^ Beat Instrumental, November 1976
  5. ^ Allmusic review
  6. ^ NME, 6 November 1976, Dick Tracy

External links[edit]