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Peter Hammill - Over CD (album) cover

OVER

Peter Hammill

 

Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 225 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Over, Peter Hammill, 1977

It's quite hard to write about Over in a positive way... which is odd because I love this album. Commenting on the musical variety, technical qualities and details of the album seems demeaning to its raw emotionality and vice versa. It's Hammill's most personal album, which some will probably find either difficult or distasteful, and for me, it's his most powerful. Over is about sustained moods more than bursts of fire, and while reviewers here have picked up a lot on the darker and more miserable side of the album, I personally think its appeal lies also in its hopeful, ironic, self-deprecating, speculative and resigned content and if you acknowledge the one element without the other, the overall effect will probably be quite depressing.

The vocals are, of course, extraordinary and innovative. Aside from some of Hammill's best lower-register work and higher-register work, this contains his most obviously powerful conventional performance. I have never heard anything like the singing on any of the songs here before and the detail, emotion and harmonies in each performance are without parallel. The production of the vocals matches up to this. The music is individual to the pieces and remains excellent but, in isolation from the vocals and lyrics would be somewhat pointless.

Crying Wolf ? from the first notes you can feel the fragility of the album. Some of the many particular musical features of this song are the dense layering, Guy Evans' delicious hi-hat (I think) work near the opening, the various awesome low-in-the-mix keyboards and the vocal development of the main riff. Hammill's guitar solo as usual is strictly devoted to the mood and not to impressing people.

Autumn: the versatility of this album is not solely in the personnel and style but also in the kind of perspective offered. The speculative mood of Autumn enhances a simply exceptional self-duet from Hammill (the vocals sound so old).

'I simply don't know what it all means... this pointless passage through the night, this Autumn time, this walk upon the water.'

Time Heals is the most immediately eye-catching thing on the album and there are a couple of extraordinary live versions out there as well so I'll try not to over-introduce it. Guy Evans and Nic Potter's rhythm section is unshowy and supportive and yet entirely unique to this album.

Alice (Letting Go)... the album's most stripped down singer-songwriter piece. Deliciously bitter and well-produced acoustic sound (which is something, I confess, that the very charming In Camera's pieces didn't have), extraordinarily heart-rending and detailed vocal contrasted with almost spoken bursts. The jolts of directness in the writing are something that makes this album and in particular this song so unique and honest, 'cause I don't wanna just be your friend.'

This Side Of The Looking Glass... if you have ever doubted Peter Hammill's ability to sing extraordinarily well in a conventional manner, you should listen to this song and repent your sins. The orchestration is rich and individual and a unique excursion by Hammill into territory unknown for a striking centrepiece to an individual album.

Betrayed has a much more ferocious and snarling Graham Smith as well as some utterly acidic acoustic guitar. An especially angry, desperate and despondent piece but so well executed as to be of interest to anyone who doesn't find that notion unbearable. The conclusion is wonderful.

(On Tuesdays She Used To Do) Yoga features the single most evil sound I can think of (and I have no idea what it is but you'll know it when you hear it). The echoed vocals are heart-breaking and the writing has both menacing edges and ironic ones to its basic honesty.

Lost And Found is the album's catharsis, and its fragile yet definite optimism is entirely crucial to understanding the album. It is amazing.

Well, I'm sure I've said this about three or four Peter Hammill albums by now (In Camera, ) and I'll probably say it about a couple more, but the thing about those many times I say that the vocals on a particular Peter Hammill album are in my honest view the best ever is that A) trust me: I mean it and B) I feel that the vocals on Over are so amazing for different reasons to those on Hammill album y or z. Hammill's ability as a singer to emote and to communicate emotions in different ways is now so self-evident to me that I can neither really recall the bemusement with which I first heard the quirky vocals of Sleepwalkers nor can I really fathom those who as a rule find his vocals unpleasant either in general or especially on this album.

So, five stars. Though Over is probably only going to be a life-changing album for those who are already self-avowed fans, it remains one of the site's most extraordinary albums and should come early in the Hammill collection expansion process.

Rating: 15/15, or thereabouts Favourite Track: Lost And Found, I think

TGM: Orb | 5/5 |

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