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An excellent album that thoroughly dismisses any fears that recent personnel upheavals might have damaged Hawkwind in the slightest. Recorded with veteran drummer Ginger Baker as an absolutely astonishing replacement for the departing Simon King and with Huw Lloyd Langton clearly reveling in the guitar hero status accorded by the watching ranks of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Levitation captures Hawkwind at their most confident and brash. Certainly the mighty "Who's Gonna Win the War" has few peers within even the classic lineup's vocabulary, with its drift out of Tim Blake's brief but beautiful "Prelude," a transition to be proud of. Feeling ever so slightly churlish, one could point to the absence of Robert Calvert and Nik Turner as a decisive blow in the songwriting departure -- there is certainly a hint of style over substance hanging around a few of the lesser numbers ("Space Chase," "World of Tiers," "5th Second of Forever"). But the relentless crunch that occasionally deputizes for melody has excitement of its own, especially when paired with a Baker/Harvey Bainbridge rhythm section that simply doesn't know when to quit. Just missing the U.K. Top 20 upon release in November 1980, Levitation has since fallen into a degree of disrepute on account of its contents' ubiquity in the world of less than stellar Hawkwind compilations. Return to the original disc, however, and that reputation is certainly not deserved.

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