THIS YEAR marks the 20th anniversary of Hawkwind, the British space-rock band whose influence has spread a lot wider than its music: Motorhead, started by ex-Hawkwind bassist Lemmy, took its name from a Hawks song, and British art-rockers and punks both owe a debt to such seminal Hawks material as "Silver Machine." Still, there's a lot of dross in the band's sprawling catalogue, as befits an outfit out of the hippie jam tradition whose lineup over the years has made Menudo look stable.
"Space Bandits," the latest from the latest version of Hawkwind, actually features -- in addition to prime mover Dave Brock -- several other players with a long (if not permanent) tenure with the Hawks: keyboardist Harvey Bainbridge and violinist Simon House. As might be expected, though, there've been some changes made, notably in the addition of female vocalist Bridgett Wishart (who actually isn't heard much) and Amerindian mysticism ("Black Elk Speaks"). The balance between tedium and excitement is typical Hawkwind: The album meanders -- eight of the nine songs are at least five minutes long -- through the prog-rock bog, occasionally snapping to attention with a streamlined raver such as "Out of the Shadows."
HAWKWIND -- "Space Bandits" (Roadracer/GWR). Appearing Sunday at the 9:30 club.