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Peter Hammill - Over CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 383 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Being the singer of one of the most influential British progressive rock bands ever, Peter Hammill's solo works are not what you should expect from the man who delivered most of the songs for VDGG. Especially the albums that were released after the split up of the band."Over" is released during one of the last VDGG years. It sounds more as an album of a singer songwriter than as a progressive rock release. "Over" is one of the most intense listening experiences you can imagine. Clearly the boundaries of musical styles don't bother Hammill. The listener hears some influences from folk, rock and classical music as well. Being 17 when I heard this album for the first time, I didn't like it at all then. Too less instruments were used besides the voice to hold my attention. I wasn't used to his way of singing either. Hammill is a varied vocalist. His voice is sounding raw, unpolished and very emotional at the same time. Highly original are the vocal harmonies which show many different sides of the man's voice. At first, being not familiar to the work of both Hammill and VDGG, the sound of this album seemed too confusing and chaotic to me. After a while, I slowly began to appreciate the delicate music and lyrics and after another while I started to love this album. This artist is shoddy in his work but in a way this is quite appealing. Emotion can be expressed a lot better in chaotic psychedelics than in perfectly restraint music. Every time this guy performs live, the songs sound different but this makes his gig an exciting experience. I suppose the same thing could be said of the man's records. Sometimes the way the album sounds seems coincidental but at the same time this couldn't be more accurate to express the emotions the album is all about. Some tracks are plain acoustic with only one or two instruments present other tracks do have full instrumentation. In either case the overall feeling is sobriety.

"Time Heals" was the first track to get my attention. Not a surprise this is the most progressive song on this album. It actually consists of a combination of two tracks Hammill wrote some years earlier. First song are making the opening and closing parts out, the second song is the middle section. The opening and closing parts are observations from a distance, the middle part is the story which turned him into a martyr. It's structure is almost like a movie. From a lyrical point of view this is the heart of the album. The main subject is getting over a relationship that's ended. This tale holds the essence of any unfortunate love relationship. Someone wants someone who wants someone else. This idea may be cliché that's common for cheesy ballads, Hammill brings this in a personal, sincere and original way. Therefore this song and album can be used for purposes of emotional therapy. This is the only artist who is capable of touching the essence of feelings which one experiences when dealing with such a matter. Musically "Time heals" has a progressive arrangement which includes the use of a harpsichord and some moogs. This adds a medieval touch to the music. The piano parts carry the most essential part of the music here. A stand out track in the history of prog !

If the lyrics for "Time heals" are the perfect introduction to the main theme of this album, Alice is the essential part. Another plain track with Hammill's voice accompanied by just one acoustic guitar. Without any musical arrangements or poetic language, this is the story how things really happened. It's a great track. You can hear the emotion is Hammill's voice is getting more intense towards the end Passionate is the right term to describe this.

"This side of the looking glass" is another emotional highlight. There's an orchestra present to enhance the melancholy. This shows the romantic side of longing for the presence of a loved one. The beginning of the song creates the same kind of atmosphere like a beautiful summer morning does. Later that morning the sky gets darker..The track may be too melodramatic for my sake but I simply have to admit I love it. Here, Hammill sings very high tones. Years later he would record another version of this song for the compilation album "the love songs".

Hammill's voice is sounding biting on "Betrayed" but the violin parts does lighten the bitter mood. The song starts off quite gentle but soon the lyric turns out to be quite cynical. Smith contributions to this track gives the music an optimistic touch if you don't listen to the lyrics. Not a track to listen to if you're in a happy mood.

The lyric of "Lost and found" is based on the idea that the bad times can turn into good times quite fast. This is my all time favourite of closing tracks. Hammill sounds at ease at the beginning, again there's a sober atmosphere. Suddenly he remembers his last meeting with Alice and his voice is getting more dramatic again introducing what seems like a leftover excerpt from Still Life : la Rossa, one of the highlights of the VDGG- album wich appeared in 1977 as well. To understand the subject of the lyrics better you should listen to the aforementioned track as well. This interesting intermission is followed by some psychedelic sounding distortion guitars which illustrates the chaotic confusion of the mood the man's in. Towards the end the mood is turning to hope again and the tempo is speeding up.

On "On tuesday she used to do yoga" the feelings of depression are nearby by using one simple bass tone that forms a sort of chorus. Besides that this is just another acoustic song with little sound effects. Especially the end of the track expresses the feeling of despair and loneliness perfectly.

Older people who feel themselves useless after their children have grown up and left them. This is the main idea for the lyric of "Autumn" The only connection with the rest of the material is the emotional level. This is another song to include wonderful orchestral contributions. Nice track but maybe it's appearance on this album is a bit misplaced.

"Crying Wolf" is another odd track. Here, the lyric is fitting in, the music doesn't but does it have to ? Musically it sounds as a leftover from Nadirs big chance but this time it lacks rock star allures. Hammill's voice is showing anger but a close look at the lyric tells you he's angry 'bout himself. This lyric deals with the subject of the consequences of too much self pity. Strange idea to include a lyric which deals with this matter on this album in particular. Isn't self pity the source of inspiration for the tracks of this album ? 'Exercises in solitude' is the way Hammill puts it in the lyrics. It's obvious this is the opening track. If this were a book this would serve well as an epilogue.

Usually I don't give much attention to the lyrics in my reviews for this site. But here you can hardly ignore them as they are the most dominate aspect. This may be a blessing if you're dealing with a failing relationship. Listening to this album gives the listener the opportunity to cope with the negative feelings an end of a relationship brings along. It's a curse for listeners who are not in this stadium of their life. This is not music you will play much in every day life. Only few songs can be played without attention to the lyrical subject. However I do like this album a lot. Every track has its own charm and flavour. I consider this as the last great Hammill record of the seventies. I believe it deserve 4 stars for a progressive record, though it deserves 5 as a rock album.

Fishy | 4/5 |


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