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Space rock

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Space rock

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Space rock is a style of music; the term originally referred to a group of early mostly British 1970s progressive rock and psychedelic bands like Hawkwind, characterized by heavy bass and drums, synthesizers, and science fiction and drug references (such as Spacemen 3's legendary quotation: "taking drugs to make music to take drugs to"), though it was later repurposed to refer to a series of late 1980s British alternative rock bands with a more shimmering, melodic sound.

More than most genres of music, space rock has a single seminal album, Hawkwind's Space Ritual (1973), a two-disk live album advertised as "88 minutes of brain-damage" documenting Hawkwind's successful 1972 tour of their blow-out show complete with liquid lights and lasers, nude dancers (notably the earth-mother figure Stacia), wild costumes, and psychedelic imagery. This hard-edged concert experience provided an alternative to the increasingly relaxed work of Pink Floyd (and across the Atlantic the Grateful Dead) and attracted a motley but dedicated collection of psychedelic drugs users, science-fiction fans, and motorcycle riders.

The science fiction author Michael Moorcock collaborated with Hawkwind on many occasions: for example, he wrote the lyrics for many of the spoken-word sections on Space Ritual including the paranoid classic "Sonic Attack", and "The Black Corridor" included verbatim quotes from Moorcock's novel of the same name. More amusingly, Moorcock (with Michael Butterworth) wrote the band into fiction as superheroes in a post-apocalyptic England in 1976's Time of the Hawklords (with a later sequel written only by Butterworth titled Queens of Deliria).

An album The New Worlds Fair by "Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix" was released in 1975, which included a number of Hawkwind regulars in the credits. ("The Deep Fix" was the title story of an obscure collection of short stories by "James Colvin" published in the 1960s). Moorcock wrote the lyrics to an album track entitled "Black Blade", referring to the sword Stormbringer in the Elric books, by the American band Blue Öyster Cult: Moorcock has even performed this song live with BÖC. The cyberpunk author John Shirley has also contributed to the lyrics of BÖC.

By the early 1990s, mainly British alternative rock genres like space rock, twee pop, shoegazing and noise pop emerged into the mainstream with the explosion of Britpop bands like Blur, Suede and Oasis. By 1991, though, the original space rock bands had mostly fallen apart, and the musicians had moved on to new bands or new styles.


Oddity: Odd ditty

The probable earliest example of something like space rock is a song written in the 1940s by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger for a BBC radio show called You're Only Young Once. The song is called Space Girl and parodies most of the major themes of 1940s science fiction. (A version was recorded on "The World of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger" volume 2: Songs from the radio ballads in 1971 on Argo Records label).

A much shorter version of the same song was recorded in the 1960s by Shirley Collins.

Early space rock

Sheb Wooley - Purple People Eater (1958)
Joe Meek and The Blue Men - "I Hear A New World - An Outer Space Music Fantasy" (1960)
The Tornados - Telstar (1962) (which was also the first number one hit for a British group in the American chart)

See also:

Alternative rock
Alternative metal - Britpop - C86 - College rock - Dream pop - Gothic rock - Grebo - Grunge - Indie pop/Indie rock - Industrial rock - Lo-fi - Madchester - Math rock - Noise pop - Paisley Underground - Post-punk revival - Post-rock - Riot Grrrl - Sadcore - Shoegazing - Space rock - Twee pop
Other topics
History - Indie (music)

Home | Up | Timeline of alternative rock | Alternative country | Britpop | Grunge music | Industrial music | Alternative dance | Alternative metal | Christian alternative rock | Dream pop | Gothic rock | Indie | Lo-fi music | Madchester | Math rock | Noise pop | Noise rock | Paisley Underground | Post-punk revival | Post-rock | Sadcore | Shoegazing | Space rock | Twee pop

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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