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Peter Hammill - The Noise CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill

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Peter Pan
3 stars For two periods in his solo career Peter Hammill founded a group you can call a rock band with a classical line-up: voc, g, b, dr.

The first one was the "K Group" in the first half of the 80s, best to experience with the powerful double album "The Margin" (1983).

Ten year later in 1992 "The Noise", which was announced as "Number one of the Aloud series", came with Peter Hammill (voc, g, keyb), Nic Potter (b), Manny Elias (dr), John Ellis (g), and this was nearly the line up of the "K Group".

"The Noise" proved that the classic rock line-up doesn't meet Peter Hammill's talents at least when it comes to writing songs for this framework. The fantastic live album of the "K Group" interpreted Hammill's solo work and therefore cannot be compared to this.

Or was it just a temporary lack of creativity which directed Hammill to a "musical nowhere land" like a critic stated? Most of the tracks of "The Noise" sound strangely uninspired to me. Only the last two songs, "Planet Coventry" and "Primo on the Parapet" attract the attention of the listener. In the 8:38 long "Primo on the Parapet" with its complex imaginative structure and interesting riffs Peter Hammill produces an oppressing atmosphere. The high-quality lyrics are about the work and death of Primo Levi and are worth listening to. The line "So I'll raise this toast to Primo, climbing up upon the parapet" makes you shiver knowing the circumstances of Levi's death. Peter Hammill still plays this song (which is worth owning the complete album) on his tours.

"The Noise" was remastered in 2002. There's hard to see a difference from the cover but the remastered version has a pink CD, the old one had a silver.

For those who are occupied with the work of Peter Hammill a must-have.

Report this review (#80249)
Posted Saturday, June 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Even if Nic Potter and Dave Jackson are present on this work, their presence didn't bring the extra kick I was expecting (but it is not the first time that it happens).

Song writing is not really great, I'm afraid. Peter only doing the minimum service in several occasions. The first two songs obviously, while the title track brings us back in the world of VDGG and pleases me a lot more. Hectic, chaotic, noisy, vomited vocals: you get the picture, I guess.

The man is even flirting with AOR (!) with "Celebrity Kissing" which is not truly my cup of tea. To say the least. You can easily press next. Same applies to the ugly heavy "Where The Mouth Is". Probably the poorest one of this album. But so far, little gems are sitting here.

After another disappointing "The Great European.", I have to say that the next "Planet Coventry" sounds better. More powerful, like in the good old Graaf days, if you see what I mean.

These are the sole moments during which I could bear this album. Unfortunately, such moments are too scarce even if the closing and longest song from "The Noise" is another of such numbers.

This album is definitely not recommended for newcomers (but which Hammill's album is meant for newcomers?). But even as a veteran, I am not convinced by this average album. Two stars.

Report this review (#178916)
Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
3 stars Over the years, Peter Hammill has shown his listeners that he can keep up with current trends in his own clever way, without actually 'selling out'. Around this time, P.H. has divided his albums into the 'A Loud' series and those he perceived as belonging to the 'Be Calm' series (like the previous album 'Fireships'). 'The Noise' is Hammill's 1st installment of the 'A Loud' series, and offers us songs mostly in an A.O.R. vein (!), with the odd 'Progressive' composition that we can come to expect. The musicians helping him out on this one are Nic Potter (Bass), David Jackson (Saxes/Flute), John Ellis (Guitars) and Manny Elias (Drums). Oddly enough, particularly concerning the Drums, the sound of the production suffers from a somewhat 80's hangover, which seems to influence the overall enjoyment of the album, and it's not as loud as it could've been. Side 1 of the record (Greek pressing on 'Chameleon' records, for the vinyl obsessive) features 4, mainly catchy tracks, where I feel Hammill could've had a hit on his hands somewhere along the way - a song such as 'Like A Shot, The Entertainer' is most difficult to erase from the memory after just one listen - indeed Hammill's sense of melody and compositional structure proves he can rival the most commercial artists of the time, but maybe his unique voice hinders him from hitting the motherlode ?? 'A Kick To Kill The Kiss' and 'Celebrity Kissing' are both conventional pieces that have his unique stamp on them, but lack a sense of adventure, therefore rendering them as weaker tracks. Title song 'The Noise' is more like it, the bellowing vox and the 'heavier' arrangement - this is the type of song which gives a nod to his wonderful band VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. On side 2 we have 'Where The Mouth Is', which is a rather straight-forward hard-rocker but the vocal expression is priceless. Jaxon's horns couldn't save 'The Great European Department Store', which has some cool lyrics giving stick to consumerism and the 'I buy, therefore I am' mentality, but musically is another slab of intelligent A.O.R. 'Planet Coventry' features an inspired rhythm jumping between 7/4 and 4/4, and a strong Bass presence from Potter, with a darker feel. A criticism I can find is Hammill's choice of keyboard voicings, which remind me of 'Doogie Howser' for some reason - don't ask.... The entire affair closes with a masterpiece - 'Primo On The Parapet' (8min38) which is a top-notch tune full of dramaticism, intensisty and inspiration, and reason alone to purchase this album. Definately not a 'sell-out' by any means, but perhaps some of the most accessible material one is likely to hear from this phenomenal musician. 3.5 stars.
Report this review (#202642)
Posted Saturday, February 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Urgent! Rock album seeks band. Please contact PH at

I don't understand. Wasn't there really anybody available to flap Hammill around the head and re-awaken his sense for good song writing and inventive arrangements? Wasn't there anyone to force Hammill into a chair and make him sit and listen to that terribly synthetic drum machine sound before releasing this? More then half of the songs would have been decent enough if this been recorded by a live band.

The opener is forgettable though. Well, opening albums was never Hammill's speciality. Hearing this album I must conclude that he also didn't care much about second songs. No, it's not till the title track that this album comes alive. Also Celebrity Kissing isn't without merit, catchy ZZ-Top alike blues rock. Where The Mouth is is a typical example of a song that is in desperate need for a rock band. Uninvolved and tepid here, but with potential though. Primo On The Parapet is a nice surprise. Hammill builds up some real suspense here and gets a reasonable groove going.

All in all, the Noise is a failed attempt at resurrecting Nadir, that so-called punk-rock alter ego of mr H. No, I believe Nadir is still very dead and buried here, under tons of plastic sounds. He ends somewhere around 2.5 stars. Again.

Report this review (#253270)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must be one of the few who really likes this record. After the heavy hand of Usher, and the sometimes cloying aspects of Fireships, I found this refreshing. Some of the comments here regard the lyrics, but songs like "Like a shot, the Entertainer" are both insightful, skeptical, and open to interpretation, and the grooves and playing are compelling. Similarly "A Kick to kill the kiss" is great word play in a great setting. Personally I'd remove "The Great European Department Store", but that's the only song that hasn't resonated with me over many listens.

I believe the problem is how "pop" these songs are compared to previous work, but for me it's the start of the modern Peter Hammill, writing songs and not trying to prove how intellectually sophisticated and different his music is. I find it refreshing, and suggest the listener take on his solo catalog in sequence to see how this pushes Hammill forward in the direction that represent the bulk of his coming work. Put it also into perspective with Foreign Town or Out of Water, which use more obvious/electronic beats that date the music; I find "The Noise" to hold up better over the year as a more organic rock record. It's not perfect, but it's a good and unique record with lyrics that fit into a prog listener's aesthetic.

Report this review (#1885136)
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

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