Steven Wilson’s remixes of albums by prog rock giants King Crimson, Caravan, Jethro Tull, ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant, Marillion, Rush, and Hawkwind are fantastic, bringing out aspects of the music that elevate them to a whole new listening experience. Released ten years ago in a 3CD package, mixed from the original master tapes, and cut at Abbey Road, Studios Wilson’s remix of Warrior on the Edge of Time is getting the vinyl re-issue treatment.
Created during a time of disharmony within the band, it’s an album that garnered both critical acclaim and disappointment, and love and loathing from the band. Lemmy said it was a “fuck up from start to finish”, arguing the band had become complacent because of their increasing success, particularly following that of 1974’s Hall of the Mountain Grill. Brock confessed, probably correctly, that the band peaked in 1974/75, though it’s perhaps better to say that Hawkwind had found their musical identity and honed their sound at this point. And Simon King, drummer between 1972 and 1979, was “two-thirds happy” with it. It’s always amusing when an album is frowned upon by those that wrote and recorded it, particularly when it’s such a good album. It must be. It reached number 13 on the UK charts – one of those rare occasions when popularity equalled quality.
Marrying Hawkwind’s musical majesty with Michael Moorcock’s The Eternal Champion concept, parallel universes, alternate realities, and wizards and warriors splattered across time and space are presented in all their hyperreal glory. Ornate with Brock’s sumptuous guitar work, Nik Turner’s whistling flute and wandering saxophone lines and shapes, Simon House’s melodic and at-times frenzied, at-others textural violin and sonic experimentations, Simon King’s and Alan Powell’s dual and duelling drumming, and Lemmy’s pulsating bass lines (also notable for being the last time we hear Lemmy playing with a clean tone), the spacerock soundtrack delves even deeper into the imaginary when Moorcock makes his appearance, his poetry drifting in, out and through the mystical soundscape. If ever an album embodied the overlap between the LSD-drenched late 60s and the deluded grandeur of the 70s, this is it. And much to his credit, Wilson’s remix brings out a depth and dynamic dimension that compliments the album’s musical and conceptual content and the band’s electrifying performance.
And if any further reason be needed to purchase this edition, then the gatefold sleeve is reason enough. Why? Because it folds out into a shape that is a shield on one side, and a knight’s helmet on the other, this helmet also depicting a precipice – the edge of time – upon which said knight is poised (see below). Now you can switch off the lights, light up some 70’s “inspiration”, wind up the gramophone, and indulge yourself in a visit to the edge of time with a simulacrum of said warrior’s accoutrements right in front of you. Yeah man!
Words by Jason Guest
Released by Cherry Red Records on 30 June 2023 and available here
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