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Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate CD (album) cover

FOOL'S MATE

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 354 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Fool´s Mate" is the debut full-length solo album by UK progressive rock artist Peter Hammill. The album was released through Charisma Records in July 1971. The material featured on the album was recorded in April 1971 at Trident Studios, London with producer John Anthony. It bridges the gab between Hammill´s main act Van der Graaf Generator´s third and fourth full-length studio albums "H to He, Who Am the Only One" (December 1970) and "Pawn Hearts" (October 1971). Some of the material dated as far back as 1967 and some tracks had been played live by early incarnations of Van der Graaf Generator, but none had made it unto the studio releases of said act.

The album was recorded in three days with the help of fellow Van der Graaf Generator collegues David Jackson (alto and tenor saxophones, flute), Hugh Banton (piano, organ) and Guy Evans (drums) along with other session musicians. Most notably former Van der Graaf Generator bassist Nic Potter and guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson), but also some members of Lindisfarne.

Considering the progressive nature of the two Van der Graaf Generator albums bookending "Fool´s Mate" and the generally long tracks inhabiting those releases, "Fool´s Mate" is a very different listening experience. The album features 12 tracks and a total playing time of 44:28 minutes. None of the tracks are longer than 4-5 minutes in length and they all feature relatively regular vers/chorus structures, so in that respect it makes perfect sense that Hammill chose to release the material as a solo album.

The album features saxophone, mandolin, harmonica, violin and organ/piano in addition to drums, bass and guitar, all of which add colors and atmosphere to the material. The mood varies from quite sombre ("Happy", "Solitude") to harder rocking ("Imperial Zeppelin") to more lighthearted ("Sunshine"). Quite often with a psychadelic touch. The focus of the songs are Peter Hammill´s vocal lines and performance though and as always his paatos filled singing style and distinct sounding voice are an aquired taste. This is one of his more restrained performances though and people who wouldn´t normally enjoy Peter Hammill´s voice and delivery may be able to find this a listenable release.

"Fool´s Mate" is a well produced affair featuring a sound which suits the material well. The album features high level musical performances, and it´s not audible that the album was recorded in only a few days in the midst of an incredibly busy touring and recording schedule for Van der Graaf Generator. When that is said, not all material on the album are equally catchy or interesting. In fact some tracks are slightly forgettable, while others are thankfully a little more memorable. "Fool´s Mate" is upon conclusion a relatively good quality release, but the songwriting could have been more memorable and therefore a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

UMUR | 3/5 |

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