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Peter Hammill


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Progressive rock/evocative/eclectic/experimental

Status:

Most recent release, Consequences (2012)

See also:

Sofa Sound: An Official Peter Hammill site

Van Der Graaf Generator site (for Peter Hammill's previous band)

Comparisons:

Peter Gabriel's darker, more troubled twin, or what would happen if Gabriel were possessed by the spirit of John Lydon.

Covers/own material:

All own material, with occasional cover of old bandmate's stuff.

General comments:

Peter Hammill is one of the great underrated musical forces in British music—he's been composing and gigging since he was 16, first with his band, Van der Graaf Generator, as well as solo. He himself eschews the tag "progressive", and his solo music tends to be of a more reflective, personal nature than that of Van der Graaf Generator, although still fired through with characteristic anger and passion. He has one of the most powerful voices in music, today, one that can range from a fiercely wounded roar to a sweet, pure croon all in one note. He has been cited as an influence by a range of artists, including David Bowie, John Lydon and Glen Matlock, Mark E. Smith and Graham Coxon. While his recent studio works have lacked the energy and excitement of his earlier material, he's continually full of surprises, and not about to be consigned to the "nostalgia" bins yet, not by a long way. It should also be stressed that he's not for everybody—his melodramatic delivery is not everyone's cup of tea, and in recent years his quality control has slipped and betrayed a definite need to work with other musicians and producers. If, however, you've ever wandered what people listened to before Radiohead and Coldplay came along, then Hammill is the prototype that they all owe a huge debt to. Warning: Everything that follows is highly subjective, IMHO to the max. Hammill fans are an emotive lot, and if you ask 10 of them for their verdict on any one album, like as not you'll get 10 different opinions. Take my opinions with a large grain of salt. Then listen for yourself. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

the man is quite intense in all the music he performs. Over chronicles his divorce...and a painful self realization about how the breakup all came to be. If you like Peter Gabriel's more poingant material, you'll like Hammill's stuff—their voices are somewhat similar in style...and painfully honest and raw with emotion. (delirium@uwa.com)

It's no contest which artist I find most emotional: Peter Hammill. Nobody does despair and loneliness like Peter. I hope no one else can inject such despair into a song (wouldn't want people jumping off buildings :). His voice can take on a raw, knocked-down-by-life, world-weary quality that I find mesmerizing. Some of his work with Van Der Graaf Generator has that aggressive in-your-face quality; much of his solo work has a more immediate and personal emotional content. His album Over, written either during or in the wake of his divorce, showcases both anger and sadness. In honor of this thread, I listened to The Love Songs last night, which is a compilation of some of his, well, love songs. I find them often exquisitely sad, yet hopeful and meaningful as well. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

Peter is an english singer/songwriter who founded the band Van der Graaf Generator in like, 1968. He has done tons of albums over the years, and is productive today.
     He is known for his intense vocal performances, his complex and thought-provoking lyrics, and his fierce independence from mainstream record-producing paradigms. (foghornj@earthlink.net)

Comments about live performance:

Last night I went to see Peter Hammill in concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. Although his recent output has been uneven (his last album, IMHO, being particularly bad) his live shows have always been quite special events. Last night, however, was even more special. It was, quite honestly, not only the best Peter Hammill show I've been to, but will probably rate as one of the best concerts I've been to, full stop. Looking even thinner than I've ever remembered, but still full of energy, intensity, and joy, and still possessing the most phenonemal voice in the history of music, he treated us to a comprehensive retrospect of his career, mercifully light on his most recent album (curious, yet refreshing considering this tour, ostensibly, is in support of that album). Switching between piano and acoustic guitar, he was accompanied solely by Stuart Gordon on violin, although for the most part they played as a duet, Hammill relishing the interplay, and giving Gordon his due. I've never been a big fan of Gordon, but last night his contribution was exciting, beautiful, breathtaking, revelatory. While Hammill was (as always) amusing, deprecating and warm in his between-songs "banter", at times he seems possessed by the songs themselves, swallowed up and spat out the other end. I have to admit, I worried for him—looking terribly frail, some songs obviously left him drained, and the finale of his encore was almost frightening in its intensity. A night to remember, and (for those fans out there) made even more potent by realising that a) David Jackson, his old sax player dating from Van der Graaf days was in the audience and b) Guy Evans, his drummer also from those days, was sitting right next to me.
     Pretty amazing — by the end I felt black and blue inside. (3/01)
     Silver-haired and ever-more skeletal, diffident, graceful, boyishly good-humoured, Mr. Hammill was accompanied, as so often in recent years, by Stuart Gordon on violin. Hammill himself switches from grand piano to acoustic guitar for the performances. Friday night was extremely patchy—he seemed strained vocally, and his habit of deconstructing his songs—different tempos and different emphasis in different places—is laudable, but tends to backfire, as the songs often fall apart entirely in a shapeless, stuttering mess, and the set is reduced to a rather lumpy stew. Added to which, the mix on the violin was far too loud for the first half, and it became intrusive and rather irritating. Still, a good gig if not a great one—which was to follow on the Saturday matinee. He'd found his voice again, and it glided effortlessly between moods and keys, from the high, sweet, croon to the low, throaty, fearsome growl. The matinee is focussed, intense, awe-inspiring. Even songs that I don't particularly like are delivered with such commitment and passion, I can only pick myself up off of the floor afterwards and go "wow". And the whole afternoon was like that. When this man is on song, he's just untouchable—he could still whip Coldplay, Travis and Muse with both hands tied behind his back, and most likely give Radiohead a good kicking, as well (I read somewhere he's done a cover of "Exit Music" at one gig—hell, they should be covering HIM!)
     Great stuff—great, great stuff.(17 June, 2002, adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Recommended first album:

Sitting Targets, but after a career spanning 35 years, it's kind of hard to pick just one (again, see the above caveat). For a more recent, mature, Hammill, try X My Heart.

Recordings:


Fool's Mate

Release info:

1971—Charisma—CASCD 1037

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—all lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums and percussion
Martin Pottinger—drums
Hugh Banton—piano, organ
Rod Clements—bass, violin
Nic Potter—bass
Ray Jackson—harp, mandolin
Dave Jackson—alto and tenor saxes, flute
Bob Fripp—electric guitar
Paul Whitehead—tam-tam

Produced by:

John Anthony

Comments:

Not, officially, a solo release, but a series of Van der Graaf Generator offcuts revisited. Still, a typically early-'70s offering, characteristically skewed, heartfelt and beautiful. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night

Release info:

1973—Charisma—CASCD 1067

Availability:

Currently unavailable.

Ecto priority:

For Hammill fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums and percussion
David Jackson—tenor and alto saxes, flutes
Hugh Banton—keyboards
Nic Potter—bass

Produced by:

John Anthony

Comments:

Reflections on nothingness and beingness and life on the road make for a rather turgid outing. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage

Release info:

1973—Charisma—CASCD 1083

Availability:

Not easy to find, but worth it

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, piano

Guest artists:

Randy California—guitar on "Red Shift"

Comments:

A lush and dramatic album, bringing together members of Van der Graaf Generator, and arguably the best of his early works, melding the gothic with the progressive to haunting and stirring effect. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

In Camera

Release info:

1974—Charisma—CASCD1083

Availability:

Unknown

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, tape loops

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—percussion
Chris Judge Smith—percussion
Paul Whitehead—percussion

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

More songs of love, loss and loneliness, but with a couple of surprises: the snarling, spitting "Tapeworm", which hints at things to come, and an experiment in electronic sounds and tape loops in "Magog (In Bromine Chambers)". The latter is admirably ahead of its time, but is far from easy listening. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Nadir's Big Chance

Release info:

1975—Charisma CASCD 1099

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—guitars, vocals and keyboards

Guest artists:

Hugh Banton—bass, keyboards
Guy Evans—drums
David Jaxon—saxes and flutes

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Hammill takes on the guise of Rikki Nadir, proto-punk, for an album that swings between swaggering rock to angst-filled ballads, and delivers a seminal, lo-fi kick in the head. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Over

Release info:

1978—Charisma—CASCD 1137

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums
Nic Potter—bass David Jackson—saxes and flutes

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Charting the end of a relationship, this tends to lapse into maudlin self-pity and turgid navel-gazing. It has its fans, though. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

anyone who thinks that men can't write songs with the emotional impact of, say, tori amos needs to really track down over by peter hammill.
     his other albums are poignant, but none have the same impact of over. as the name implies, it is a break-up album, but it's not smarmy. it's angry, confused, frustrated without being clichéd. and hammill's voice is just lovely. (woj@smoe.org)


The Future Now

Release info:

1978—Charisma—CASCD 1137

Availability:

Fair to good

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, tape loops and sonic experiments

Guest artists:

David Jackson—saxes
Graham Smith—violins

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Hammill sheds his skin once again, here stripping his arrangements to their barest and experimenting with electronica and drum machines. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

pH 7

Release info:

1979—Charisma—CASCD 1146

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion

Guest artists:

David Jackson—saxes
Graham Smith—violins

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

More bare-boned and barbed-wire arrangements, with a snarling, angry energy offsetting the more sentimental moments. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

A Black Box

Release info:

1980—Virgin—CDOVED 140

Availability:

Fairly available

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, tape loops, drums

Guest artists:

David Jackson—saxes and flutes
David Ferguson—synths and tambourine

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Hammill takes on pretty much all the instruments, here, as well as dealing out some extraordinary electronic sounds, and the result is a raw, rough-edged and difficult album, but one that rewards listening to those who dare. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Sitting Targets

Release info:

1981—Virgin—CDV 2205

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums
Phil Harrison—synthesisers
David Jackson—saxes and whistles
Morris Pert—percussion

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Back with a full band, Hammill produces his best work yet, an album throbbing with fierce beauty and exhilarating passion. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Enter K

Release info:

1982—Fie! Records—FIE 9101

Availability:

Available from Sofa Sound

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, keyboards, guitars

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums, percussion
Nic Potter—bass
John Ellis—lead guitar
David Jackson—saxes

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A more refined and complex product than its predecessor, but it has a quirky energy all of its own. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Patience

Release info:

1983—Fie! Records—FIE9102

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums, percussion
Nic Potter—bass
John Ellis—lead guitar
David Jackson—saxes
Stuart Gordon—violin
David Lord—Prophet V

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

This lacks the bite of Enter K, and certainly of Sitting Targets, but still manages to produce a couple of Hammill's best material in its second half. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Love Songs

Release info:

1984—Charisma—CASCD 1166

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

For fans and completists only

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Produced by:

David Lord

Comments:

The label milks him for all he's worth with a compilation of...well, love songs, and this reeks of 1980s MOR packaging, right down to the cheeeeeesy cover. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Margin

Release info:

1985—Virgin—CDOVD 345/ Fie! Records FIE9125

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, piano

Guest artists:

John Ellis—lead guitar, backing vocals
Guy Evans—drums and percussion
Nic Potter—bass

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A record of Hammill's tours with his "beat" group, the K Group, this includes some Van der Graaf Generator material. The audience reaction has been carefully excised, which detracts from the live feeling, but the 2001 re-release not only adds copious background notes but also an additional disc that, while somewhat challenged on audio finesse, captures the rough-edged squall that it must have been. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Skin

Release info:

1986—Virgin—CDOVD 344

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars and keyboards

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums and percussion
David Jackson—saxophones
David Coulter—didjeridu
Stuart Gordon—violin
Hugh Banton—perfect mad cello
David Luckhurst—an alternative vox

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A tight, intelligent and stirring work, admirable considering that so many of his contemporaries had been swallowed up and eviscerated by the '80s. On this he covers the stunning "Four Pails", written by old ex-Van der Graaf Generator mates Chris Judge Smith and Max Hutchinson. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

and close as this

Release info:

1986—Virgin—CDV2409

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—keyboards

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Something of an experiment, in which the entire album was composed and performed solely by Hammill on keyboards, this holds some truly inspired music—"Too Many of My Yesterdays" and "Other Old Clichés" for instance—but the lack of instrumental texture begins to pall. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

In a Foreign Town

Release info:

1989—Fie! Records—FIE 9108

Availability:

Currently unavailable

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

It's a strong, sharp album, and the songs are certainly accessible, but the reliance on drum machines and samplers and the re-treading of old ground rob this of a lot of its soul. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Out of Water

Release info:

1990—Enigma Records—CDENV 1003

Availability:

Available from Sofa Sound

Ecto priority:

For fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion

Guest artists:

John Ellis—guitars
David Jackson—saxophones
Nic Potter—basses
Stuart Gordon—violin

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Anaemic and rather aimless, despite the presence of old band-mates, this has an all-too heavy mix of sentiment and melodrama, which drown out the otherwise intelligent lyrics. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Room temperature live

Release info:

1990—Fie! Records—FIE 9110

Availability:

Available from Sofa Sound

Ecto priority:

For fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—guitars, piano

Guest artists:

Stuart Gordon—violin
Nic Potter—bass

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A ragged and weary live set, recorded during a North America/Canada tour, with Hammill accompanied by Stuart Gordon on violin and old Van der Graaf Generator mate Nic Potter on bass. Hammill's voice sounds strained, while excessive noodling and a funereal pace slow the songs down into a sagging, tuneless torpor, in risk of stalling altogether. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Fall of the House of Usher

Release info:

1991—Some Bizzare—SBZ CD 007; 1999—Fie! Records—FIE 9121

Availability:

Available from Sofa Sound

Ecto priority:

For fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion

Guest artists:

Sarah-Jane Morris—vocals
Andy Bell—vocals
Lene Lovich—vocals
Hervert Grönemeyer

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A rock opera based on Poe's short story, this was a long-running project, a collaboration with old Van der Graaf Generator mate (and treasured eccentric) Chris Judge Smith, who wrote the libretto. It certainly boasts an interesting cast (want to hear Erasure's Andy Bell duet with Hammill? You got it!), but...is just...so...bad, confirming every doubt you'll ever have had about rock operas. There are a couple of bright spots, but it sinks beneath the weight of melodrama and pretension. Apparently, the 1999 re-release, which Hammill completely rearranged and remixed, is much better. I can only take his word for it. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Fireships

Release info:

1991—Fie! Records—FIE 9103

Availability:

Available from Sofa Sound

Ecto priority:

For fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion, strings, wind

Guest artists:

David Lord—strings, percussion, keyboards, Nic Potter—bass Stuart Gordon—violin David Jackson—saxophones, flute John Ellis—guitar

Produced by:

Peter Hammill and David Lord

Comments:

There are a couple of more than decent tracks in here, but overall this is a dour, middle-aged and over-orchestrated album. Worryingly, Hammill declared it the first in a "Be Calm" series. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Noise

Release info:

1992—Fie! Records—FIE 9104

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Nic Potter—bass
John Ellis—guitar
David Jackson—sax, flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A far heavier, noisier album than he's done in many a year, this shows signs of his old energy, edge and wit resurfacing. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

There Goes the Daylight

Release info:

1993—Fie! Records—FIE 9106

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Stuart Gordon—violin, guitar, backing vocals
Manny Elias—drums
Nic Potter—bass

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

An energetic enough live outing, but the songs lose something in their translation to the basic guitar and drums format, and the sinuous and sinister rhythms of songs such as "Empress's Clothes" get ironed out into something far more straightforward and banal. In the end, this is actually rather dull. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Roaring Forties

Release info:

1994—Fie! Records—FIE 9107

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Nick Potter—bass
Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—sax and flute
Simon Clarke—Hammond organ

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

The songs may be overlong, but they have an astonishing energy and a drive behind them that indicates that the old fire is burning in Hammill once more, and once more he sounds as if he's very much enjoying his work. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Peel Sessions

Release info:

1995—Strange Fruit—SFRCD136

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Graham Smith—violin

Produced by:

Nick Gomm, Peter Watts, John Etchells, Tony Wilson

Comments:

A selection live radio sessions for the mighty John Peel stretching from 1974-1988, this is as good an introduction to Hammill for the curious as any, presenting stark, simple arrangements around his powerhouse of a voice. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

X My Heart

Release info:

1996—Fie! Records—FIE 9111

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Essential

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest artists:

Stuart Gordon—violin
Manny Elias—drums and percussion
David Jackson—saxes and flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A gem of an album: Slow burning anger mixed with a barbed melancholia and Hammill's still-powerful, emotion-wracked voice make for great listening, and a lesson for all of his contemporaries in maturing with dignity, intelligence and power. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Wow! I liked Roaring 40's but X is possibly one of his finest crafted releases ever. I've always wished he'd do more a cappella numbers, and "A Better Time" is a good start. This is a wonderful album. (foghornj@earthlink.net)


Everyone You Hold

Release info:

1997—Fie! Records—FIE 9117

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Stuart Gordon—violin
Hugh Banton—organ
David Lord—keyboards
Holly & Beatrice Hammill—soprano vocals on "Phosphorescence"

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A slow, languorous, often ponderous effort, more of a throwback to his Fireship mode and therefore disappointing after X My Heart, but the overall effect is still haunting, and "Phosphorescence" rates as one of his most achingly beautiful compositions (his daughters help out on backing vocals. Ahhhh). (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

The Union Chapel concert

Release info:

1997—Fie! Records—FIE 9115

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Guy Evans—drums, percussion, MIDI pads & samples, blue drums
Hugh Banton—organs
Manny Elias—drums
Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—saxe, flutes, soundbeam
Giles Perrin—guitar, blue drums
Mat Fraser—blue drums
Patou Soult—blue drums

Produced by:

Peter Hammill & Guy Evans

Comments:

The record of a one-off concert with Hammill and his Van der Graaf Generator drummer, Guy Evans, which took in solo material all around, improvisations and, finally, a full-blown Van der Graaf Generator reunion. A night, as Hammill said, of "serious fun", and while you really had to be there, this is the next best thing. It's a bit of preaching to the converted, but you don't get better sermons than this. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

This is very interesting, featuring various musicians at various points during the concert, many new renditions of older Peter Hammill material, culminating in a "one song one-off reformation" of Van der Graaf Generator for "Lemmings". Great stuff if you're into this sort of thing. (foghornj@earthlink.net)


This

Release info:

1998—Fie! Records—FIE 9118

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars and keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—saxophones and flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Almost excellent, fatally flawed. This contains material ("Stupid" and "Always is Next") that rates among Hammill's most exciting and interesting work, as well as slightly more becalmed songs of dreamy beauty and intelligence. The final track, however is "The Light Continent", a 14-minute tuneless dirge that goes nowhere forever. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Typical

Release info:

1999—Fie! Records—FIE 9119

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, piano, guitar

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

A belated outing for these 1992 live gigs around Europe, in which it is purely, totally Hammill, switching from keyboard to guitar and back again. He still has a tendency to deconstruct the rhythm of some of the songs to almost breaking point, and while there are moments of indulgence and some ham-fisted playing, the sheer passion and intensity he brings to his vocal performances leave the listener in awe. Stay hanging on for the very hidden tracks at the end of the second disc, which are more than worth it. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

none of the above

Release info:

2000—Fie! Records—FIE 9122

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

For fans only

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Stuart Gordon—violin
Holly & Beatrice Hammill—soprano vocals

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Arguably his worst album (well, it's got my vote), which manages to be cloyingly sentimental, obvious, tuneless and dull. The faux Latin groove of "Somebody Bad Enough" make the toes curl, as does the boyband wistfulness of "Astart". (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

what, now?

Release info:

2001—Fie! Records—FIE 9123

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Manny Elias—drums
Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—saxophones and flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Once again, Hammill staggers back from the brink and delivers a stunning album of delights. Some of the songs are a bit obvious, but otherwise he's very much back on form. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Clutch

Release info:

2002—Fie! Records—FIE 9127

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, lute

Guest artists:

Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—saxophones and flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

As with as close as this, this seem more like an exercise, a collection of songs composed and played solely on guitars. It contains some sterling stuff, but also material that's laboriously obvious, as Hammill decides to tackle the headlines (paedophilia, religious fanaticism, anorexia) and brings little new to the respective subjects, while "Once you called me" fulfils the toe-curling sentimentality quotient. Worth getting, however, for the good stuff, which rates among his best. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Incoherence

Release info:

2004—Fie! Records—FIE 9129

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Peter Hammill—vocals, guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Stuart Gordon—violin
David Jackson—saxophones and flute

Produced by:

Peter Hammill

Comments:

Something of an intellectual exercise, an album that—although composed of 14 separate songs—plays as one long, seamless piece based on the theme of communication. Admirable ambition, admirable sentiments and undoubted intelligence and passion, but the DIY production buries the potential under tinny keyboards, and it sorely needs a rhythm section to drive it forward. There are many fine aspects to this album, but it does leave the nagging feeling that it could have been a lot, lot better.
     Shortly after completing this, Hammill had a heart attack, from which he has recovered. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Further info:

Hammill has the habit of turning up in odd places, most noticeably doing vocals for Robert Fripp's Exposure (his "Chicago" is a vocal tour de force) and backing vocals on Peter Gabriel's 4 (Security in the US). He also has performed onstage with Italian prog-rockers PFM, as well as punks The Stranglers, as well as opening for Marillion, who were fans: Their Script for a Jester's Tear had, in its cover artwork, the cover of Hammill's Over. When Pere Ubu's Dave Thomas performed an all-star concert in London a few years ago, Hammill was sitting in on guitar. He has collaborated with Roger Eno on The Appointed Hour in 1999.


Thanks to adamk for work on this entry.

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