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Hall of the Mountain Grill

United Artists LA 328 G
Released: October 1974
Chart Peak: #110
Weeks Charted: 12

Hawkwind might be ready to usurp Black Oak Arkansas as the reigning mondo-dumbo heavy metal miscreants. They got a lot over our backwoods boys. But that's not surprising. The English got us beat when it comes to off-the-wall rock 'n' roll.

Yeah, and speaking of walls, Hawkwind got bounced off hard. Try to imagine a mystic McDonaldland on the moon. Once you got that down, add equal doses of Captain Video, Edgar Cayce and "Tales From the Unknown." Now picture it all transformed into the ulitmate psychedelic space schlock stage show; complete with strobes, black lights, day-glo and giant screen melting-colors-and-traveling-through-space-am-I-too-high-karmic effects. Yum-yum. That's about where Hawkwind's coming from -- some TV producer's rendering of an acid rock band from a Star Trek episode. And that's why Hawkwind is perhaps the most entertaining group going these days -- heavy metal kitsch. Much better stuff than Black Oak's hippie, dope and revolution rap.

Hawkwind - Hall of the Mountain Grill
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Hawkwind, however, has a firm grasp on heavy metal dynamics. Their live double album, Space Ritual, is a must. Two entire records of endless mind-death rock 'n' roll. Great energy monoliths of rejuvenated Black Sabbath riffs. Raw, ponderous things. Picture Colossos trampling peasants and cute villages. The whole bit.

Graf relentless, dumb rhythms underlie reeds, keyboards and synthesizers that vacillate between spaco things and sonic blitzes. It's all unbelievably raw stuff which Hawkwind attacks with such brute devotion that, viola, throbbing heavy metal. Hawkwind's live music, in short, is the stuff for aficionados who think Blue Oyster Cult are East Coast intellectual pansies.

Which brings us to Hall of the Mountain Grill. Disturbing tendencies here. Like Hawkwind getting artsy. What the hell is this? Like they're not satisfied being the finest mondo-dumbo heavy metal act around. Like they actually want to blow a good thing.

It seems that way. Get these guys off the stage and into a studio and they get ambitious. Over-production drowns beat-'em-over-the-head dynamics. Bland "mood provoking" mellotron parts replace uncontrolled reed and synthesizer madness. Ostentatious pseudo-complexities confuse pounding two chord constructions.

New Hawkwind member Simon House -- keyboards and violin -- is at least partly to blame. He wrote the title song, a dime store Beaver & Krause melody featuring piano and mellotron. But other members are guilty of songs like "Web Weaver," a lame Jefferson Starship imitation, and "Wind of Change," a piece that should be the soundtrack to an American International slime movie.

Hall of the Mountain Grill, however, does contain some raw Hawkwind, including two live tracks. The best studio cut, "Psychedilic Warlords," gets underway with a catchy metal riff augmented by violin and a neat fuzz riff making the bass sound like it's being played through a half-blown Silvertone. Great stuff, but just as the song gets up a head of steam the band fades out for a dumb sax solo.

But that's typical of the album. Over-produced. Artsy. Boy, who needs it? Give us mind-death. Give us kitsch. Give us Barabbas.

- David Baemoth, Phonograph Record, 11/74.

Bonus Reviews!

Hall of the Mountain Grill is Hawkwind starting the long descent back to earth. After the somewhat numbing and totally inaccessible droning of Space Ritual, it's good to see the band incorporating such human traits as vocals, real English-language lyrics (however nonsensical), melodies and even an occasional synthesizer whooshes and metronome drumming still turn up, Mountain Grill occasionally sounds more like Pink Floyd than the Hawkwind we used to know. In fact, "Web Weaver" displays the kind of sobriety never heard from them before, and on the title cut they use a classically influenced piano riff as an introduction to the rest of their weird noise song. Hall of the Mountain Grill comes as close to being genuinely listenable as anything done by this band yet, and if they keep this trend going they may even start to sell some albums in this country.

- Alan Neister, Rolling Stone, 1/2/75.

Usual interplanetary sounds from top British space rock band. Good use of electronics and ideal for FM play. Best cuts: "D-Rider," "Hall Of The Mountain Grill."

- Billboard, 1974.

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