The first installment of Griffin Music's extensive Hawkwind box set, 25 Years On, collects tracks dating from their eponymous debut through to their fifth release, the legendary double-live Space Ritual and, were it not for occasional complaints aimed at its sketchy audio fidelity, could very well stand alone as a very viable greatest-hits package. First up are two entries from the band's still formative first album: the sunny, acoustic, Grateful Dead-ish "Hurry on Sundown" and the tentative space rock of "Paranoia (Part 2)"; after which we jump forward to Hawkwind's golden era via the driving, proto-metallic "Silver Machine" single, and the oft-covered, epic space-jam "Brainstorm," from 1972's Doremi Fasol Latido masterpiece. Another pair of band staples from that album, the special effects-laden ballad "Space Is Deep" and the sweeping vertigo-inducing "Lord of Light" follow, and then we hurtle backwards through time (and space, duh!) for the exemplary opening trio from 1971's sophomore breakthrough In Search of Space -- these being the churning sonic black hole of "You Shouldn't Do That," the psychedelic freak-out of "You Know You're Only Dreaming," and perhaps the ultimate space rock anthem in "Master of the Universe." Finally, the disc goes back to the future once again so as to conclude with the opening track from 1973's aforementioned Space Ritual album, "Born to Go." Another extended space jam of the sort that by then was becoming somewhat tired and formulaic, the song would foreshadow Hawkwind's imminent descent into repetitive stagnation and self-plagiarism, but not before a few more excellent Space Ritual selections and semi-decent studio album cuts could kick-start volume two of this career retrospective in style.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia