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Peter Hammill - Room Temperature Live CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill


Eclectic Prog

3.36 | 44 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars The former Van der Graaf Generator front man's solo output was/is never easy to digest and this album containing selected live recordings from concerts in the USA, Canada and England certainly seems to have a life of its own, a rather dark life. Hammill doesn't just sing, he wails, whispers, screams in equal measures, invites you to listen closely one second only to attempt an attack on your eardrums the next. This is music from deep inside, true soul-(searching)-music, an acoustic mirror image to Van der Graaf's angry 'Still Live' set.

With a sparse backing band (the overwhelming and sometimes slightly overbearing Stuart Gordon on violin and the marvelously inventive Nic Potter on bass) the proceedings get off to a rather subdued start with some of pH's great ballads, which comes to an abrupt end with a racy rendition of 'The Comet...': "What can I say when in some obscure way I am my own direction" - if you still follow the direction the performers take after this you are truelly in for an unforgettable ride into your/Hammill's own private heaven/hell. 'Patient' gets another long, almost psychedellic face-lift and you almost believe the audience is not just listening but sucked into the happenings on stage. At times Gordon and Potter seem almost lost as to what Hammill gets up to next, but this only adds to the authentic atmosphere. Disc Two kicks off with the prog'n'roll of 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever' and 'Skin'. The original studio recording of the latter was at best a meddled affair, this version however shows perfectly that Hammill is a first-class songsmith, who sometimes simply misjudges the format of his creations. This could probably be said for most of the tracks on the second set, the performances of 'Hemlock', 'Our Oyster', 'After the show' all outclass the studio versions. 'A way out' is a simple yet majestic work, giving its structure even more space in this semi-acoustic rendition. We are then treated to a grand finale with some of Hammill's greatest compositions, ending with 'Modern', still, always and truelly modern music for the head.

There are no middle ground with Hammill's voice: you either love it or hate it and on 'Room Temperature' you will find arguments for both sides. This is certainly no 'easy- prog' listening, quite on the contrary, even if you love the man's work you will find it difficult to sit through the whole album in one session, but try and have a go, put it back on your shelf and pick it up a few weeks later and try again. It will be worth your while.

| 4/5 |


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