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Peter Hammill - Roaring Forties CD (album) cover


Peter Hammill

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars I bought this cd a few days ago and I was surprise by the power of the first song Sharply Unclear...the voice of Hammill is perfect and the music is like a mysterious image.This album is strong from the beginning until the end,this is a good example of one of the best compositor of the progressive music of all times.Buy this cd and you will be surprise and happy.
Report this review (#18758)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars A certainly impressive artwork (a map evoking the southern latitude with an explosion) and an equally intriguing album title for what appears to be a concept album. Still a typical Hammill album, that demands a lot of time and attention from the listener as most of his other albums, this one does not unveil its charms easily. Synthesised beats on some tracks brings unease, with the relative poppy "tune" Talk Turkey is far from my favourite, but when real drums are used (Manny Elias is not good to say the least), the general feel does not really improve in the sense a proghead would like it too. I suppose this is the kind of album that Hammill unconditional fans will really appreciate, but to me there are too many evident flaws for me to appreciate and actually dedicate the necessary time to further my investigations past the period of loan of the album. Just in case you are wondering, the 19- min suite is not really much better, a bit more challenging, but hampered by awful drums ruining the whole bloody thing. This is really too bad those drums are so ugly, because I feel that there might be a bit of interesting stuff to dig out from this lenghty track. But this would simply cost too much time for the possible reward. As with almost all Hammill albums, there are moments of pure beauty, but in here they are few and far in between.

Hammill was clearly in his forties (around 46 at the time of this record release), but clearly with this album they were not roaring that much. His incredibly proficient output would gain from a restrained qualitative control. Clearly one gets a feeling the man recorded every single song he ever wrote, regardless of its pertinence or relevance.

Report this review (#77195)
Posted Friday, May 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An excellent Hammill album! The overall tonal pallet of this album is very pleasing to the ear and is very well produced. The drums sound good and so do the well placed guitar work. The first track evokes an almost Metallica feel at the start but then segues into some very restrained yet chaotic singing by the thin man. There are a few tracks which do not quite live up to many more listens (such as Talk Turkey) but the epic is one of Hammill's best featuring a very good usage of odd time signatures and beautiful acoustic guitar. On the whole, a Hammill fan would love this one and it may even be a decent place to start for a new fan. A very good album, not a masterpiece but a solid and extremely enjoyable album.

One standout feature - may be some of Hammill's most tasteful guitar playing.

One detraction - no detractions, I like this one.

Report this review (#165570)
Posted Thursday, April 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have not been impressed with Peter's output from the nineties so far (except maybe the first one ("Out Of Water"). This has caused me some e-mails, and it's funny enough to see that some persons believe I'm too harsh with him, while another one (my dear friend Febus) believes that I'm globally too generous with my ratings for Peter's work in general.

I was enthusiast to listen to this album because the length of the songs makes it possible to develop an idea sufficiently. Provided of course that the idea is good.

And even if this album starts on the rocking side, I must say that both "Sharply Unclear" as well as "The Gift Of Fire" are truly pleasant. Peter seems to be more in peace with himself now. Jackson's input in the latter song is evident even if it is definitely a Hammill song and not a VDGG one (do you follow me?).

The reverse "You Can't Want What You Always Get" (sounds as a "Stones" title, right?), is again on the rocking side, but more chaotic and noisy. The frenetic violin play, the heavy sax, the dark mood is a somewhat oppressive and lacks in harmony to be really catchy. The second part is just on par. This is the weakest song of the whole here.

The contrast is total with the first movement of the epic "A Headlong Stretch". Tranquil and acoustic guitar, subtle and charming vocal part. Almost too sweet.I'm not too sure we can talk about epic here. The seven sections are quite different from one another, and the transitions are rather abrupt.

You can notice this as soon as "Continental Drift" starts. At the opposite of the smoothness of the "Up Ahead". The whole sounding somewhat chaotic and the VDGG feeling can prevail here, although this song falls short of the main reference from the band (in terms of epic). I mean "Plague." of course.

One is fully brought in the Graaf's world during "Long Light" (for three minutes). But even if it's short, it is always a good feeling of course. Now, the most emotional part. "Backwards Man". Peter's vocals are bloody good here. Nervous, tortured as they can be: just a pity that the backing band is not that great. The closing "or So I Said" is also full of emotion.

But my fave from these roaring forties is the quiet and beautiful "Your Tall Ship". A delicate and melodic ballad like the man can produce. He is so lively in his vocals, so passionate, so vibrant, so. Hammill. A great closing track.

Even if this album is not the best one from this great man, it flows nicely and I very much welcome this. A good album in my opinion. Three stars.

Report this review (#179219)
Posted Friday, August 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After the disappointing album The Noise, the 'médiathčque' (library) that I had been systematically ransacking for years, finally gave up acquiring the new Hammill albums. And so did I. It wasn't till 10 years after its release that I gave this album a first listen.

The obvious weak point is the thin sound and the impression that it is made up of VDGG leftovers. On the plus side, we finally hear some real drums. (Not on every song tough, strangely enough). Despite the more organic sound, the album never comes alive. On the whole, it is a very pedestrian pseudo-rock affair again that misses both passion and good songs. At first, the 20 minutes of A Head Stretch had caught my attention, but apart for the striking rhythm and melody of the Long Light part, nothing brings back the old fire. Long Light isn't more then a single and rather painful reminiscence to the better days that used to be.

Despite its title, Roaring Forties is one of Hammill's most inert rock albums. Intriguing album art though.

Report this review (#253409)
Posted Sunday, November 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I haven't heard any of Peter's solo albums between "A Black box" (1980) and this one from 1994. So it is a little surprising to hear the change in his sound. His VDGG mates David Jackson and Nic Potter help out on a few tracks.

"Sharply Unclear" really reminds of THE BEATLES song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", just the guitar and that dark and serious sound. We get orchestral sounds late while piano ends it. "The Gift Of Fire" has this mellow and minimalistic intro then a beat with vocals kicks in. Some sax here too and organ before 2 1/2 minutes. Catchy stuff. "You Can't Want What You Always Get..." reminds me of the opening track with that dark and heavier sound.The vocals come in quickly.The violin before 2 1/2 minutes starts to rip it up. A calm before 6 minutes then we get some sax and drums.

"A Headlong Stretch" is a 19 1/2 minute suite divided into 7 tracks that blend into one another. "Up Ahead" gets things rolling with gentle guitar and reserved vocals. "Continental Drift" is still laid back and the vocals are almost spoken. It does pick up after 2 minutes. "The Twelve" has some sax in it while "Long Light" is heavier with vocals that are more passionate. I'm not much of a fan of "Backwards Man" because it's too orchestral. "As You Were" is good with the acoustic guitar, piano and reserved vocals. It continues into "Or So I Said". "Your Tall Ship" is the closing number with piano, organ and laid back vocals with a light beat.

A pretty good album overall but defintily a step down from his seventies stuff.

Report this review (#402877)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was almost shocked when I saw the - incredibly - low rating of the "Roaring Forties" album, and I'm pretty sure that some of its 'raters' (yeah, those who are willing to do anything that helps them create what's just a semblance of their activity as a matter of fact) have either never listened to it or only done so once. No music lover should forget that any profound progressive rock album requires repeated listens. "Roaring Forties" will hardly grab your attention right away. But give the CD several spins and you will love it to death, unless you're a novice to the genre (and, by saying so, I mean classic prog rock - not neo). Most of the music is deep and is chock-full of the arrangements that are highly intricate and intriguing alike. In other words, this is a 100-percent masterpiece. In fact, only two albums from Peter Hammill's solo discography, this one and "The Silent Corner", always gladden me as much as the best Van Der Graaf Generator albums ("H to He", "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff"). So please do not believe any hasty conclusions. Rely exclusively on your own ears, your own experience, et cetera.
Report this review (#1560565)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 | Review Permalink

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