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Peter Hammill

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Peter Hammill Sitting Targets album cover
3.54 | 203 ratings | 10 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Breakthrough (3:57)
2. My Experience (3:15)
3. Ophelia (3:10)
4. Empress's Clothes (4:03)
5. Glue (3:40)
6. Hesitation (4:07)
7. Sitting Targets (5:22)
8. Stranger Still (4:54)
9. Sign (3:45)
10. What I did (3:39)
11. Central Hotel (4:41)

Total Time : 44:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitars, keyboards (piano, synth), bass, beatbox, arranger & producer

- Phil Harrison / Synclavier (3,8,9)
- David Jackson / saxes, flute (4,6,7,11)
- Guy Evans / drums (1,2,6,7,9)
- Morris Pert / percussion (4,7,10)

Releases information

Artwork: Rocking Russian Design with Ford Motor Co. (photo)

LP Virgin ‎- V 2205 (1981, UK)

CD Virgin Records, CDV 2203 (1989, UK)
CD Charisma ‎- CDVR 2205 (2007, Europe) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy PETER HAMMILL Sitting Targets Music

PETER HAMMILL Sitting Targets ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PETER HAMMILL Sitting Targets reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by slipperman
3 stars One year into the '80s, with 'Sitting Targets' Peter Hammill foreshadowed the dreary material that was to come on the rest of his '80s albums. But this album isn't all bad. It's a mixed bag, divided evenly in half between lackluster songs and highly intriguing ones. He's aided by some impressive supporting musicians, including Van Der Graaf Generator members David Jackson and Guy Evans, as well as Brand X man Morris Pert.

Opener "Breakthrough" offers a tense, paranoid set of upbeat rhythms, Hammill sounding believable as the tortured artist with a lot on his mind. This song is the only one within the album's first half that manages to do anything exciting, the next 5 hovering in that apathetic nether-zone that so much of Hammill's solo material resides in. "My Experience" was released as a single, and it indeed sounds aimed at early '80s radio: robotic, new wave-ish, awful.

It's the second half of this album that provides some challenging listening, songs with depth and fascinating twists and turns. All kinds of noises fly at you on "What I Did", with that oddball VDGG element making an appearance on "Sitting Targets". The entire back half of the album offers only high-quality moments of Hammill's peculiar schizophrenia, maintaining the focus that fans appreciate about his unique musical persona. Even brooding, proto-punk noise creeps in with closer "Central Hotel", harkening back to the 'Nadir's Big Chance' album, but more effective because it's the only song remotely like this on the whole album.

A lopsided and only half-satisfying album. Hammill's voice is getting grittier, less melodic, and that's a trait that makes his albums a little hard to listen to at times (especially if you love to hear the smoother tones that graced most of his solo and band material of the '70s). Nice to hear all the supporting musicians around this album, which helps maintain the human factor that would be lost and drowned in much of the man's '80s material.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars In setting out to review at least one album by each of the prog rock "big N", where N is some number < 10, I have discovered that Van de Graaff Generator is sometimes included in that number. While I never acquired anything by this group, I had been drawn to several solo songs by its leader Peter Hammill. In fact, back when this album was current, I heard and was very taken with the opening cut "Breakdown" and its slow buildup and cut-loose chorus on my campus radio station without finding out who did it. Only when I bought the album on the basis of several other interesting cuts did I rediscover the song with glee.

First of all, this is not easy music to listen to, not particularly melodic nor accessible. Hammill can be harsh, and doesn't so much sing as shout. Yet there is an underlying musicality unfettered by the 1980s sound, quite an achievement given the time of release. Apart from "Breakdown", tracks like "Ophelia", "My Experience", the title cut, and "Sign" all show an uncompromising verve that is propelled by Hamill's guitars and Morris Pert's punchy percussion.

Only being familiar with a small proportion of this man's catalog, I cannot say how this stacks up, except that it has a good number of potent moments and a denseness of sound that stands repeated listening. Not a masterpiece, but certainly no sitting target for critics either.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars A full band for this Hammill solo album. I'm always pleased to see Jackson on the guest list.

Peter entered awkwardly in the eighties with "A Black Box" and I was not expecting too much out of this one. I have to say that the album starts on a good note. More on the rocking side for a while ("Breakthrough", "My Experience"), Peter gets back to a more "normal" mood with the acoustic and dark "Ophelia".

With such a line-up, it was inevitable (and very much welcome) to get some full Van Der Graaf songs. Hectic and hermetic. Here is "Empress's Clothes". Great off-beat and fine percussion work to sustain the wonderful saxing. "Hesitation" is also a track which digs into the band's repertoire.

This album also has its depressive moments, but I guess that they are impossible to avoid ("Glue"). Still, some bits of optimism would not be seen as too much of a compromise.

One of the best song is undeniably the title track. Fine backing vocals add another dimension. Peter could have developed it and make it a bit longer. Excellent instrumental part.

Actually, this album is a pleasant one. I prefer it to his late seventies production. Almost no weak songs (but not too many highlights either). It is only a shame that the charm of "Stranger Still" is ruined by the chaotic final part. but "Sign" puts things back on the good rails.

The first very average songs is "What I Did" (good question Peter!). It seems to come out the first side of "A Black Box" and all those experimentations. Not my cup of tea.

"Sitting Targets" closes as it started. Central Hotel is a rock song again. But Peter is not always at ease with such performance. The riff sounds as a Richard's one. But Peter ain't no Jagger...

I like this album. A good one.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hammill's second venture into the 80-ties. Contrasting to many of his contemporaries, that was not something he felt awkward with. Quite the contrary. His 3 preceding albums had been wilful, highly experimental and intense works, qualities that were highly appreciated in the beginning of the 80's and that got him a strong following among the new generation of artists.

This album is the first in another strong string of 3 albums that are mostly performed with classic rock band instrumentation. On the ensuing albums this band would be called 'the K Group'. On Sitting Targets, half of that band is in place with (surprise surprise) Guy Evans on drums and David Jackson on sax. The album sits somewhere between the experimental side of the preceding years and a more accessible kind of emotive art rock, similar to what Talking Heads, John Cale and David Bowie were doing around that time.

A few tracks could have been better, My Experience and especially Hesitation could have been a lot better. Also What I Did shouldn't have made it unto the album. The remainder is simply excellent. 3.5 stars for mr H.

Review by Warthur
4 stars An accessible yet very successful art rock album from Hammill sees him continuing his blending of New Wave and punk influences with avant-garde and prog ideas. The spine- tingling opener Breakthrough includes some great bass and guitar work from Hammill, the backing band (including Guy Evans and David Jackson - making this three quarters of a Van der Graaf Generator reunion) are tight, and on the whole the poppier numbers (such as My Experience) are catchy as hell, the prickly New Wave numbers like Central Hotel are full of the neurotic energy that pervades Hammill's work, and Hammill even manages to work in a gentle number in the form of the emotive Ophelia. If you liked the two Van der Graaf albums and Hammill's late 1970s solo work, you'll find this one is another winner.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Peter Hammill's tenth solo album sees him once again playing in the New-Wave style popular at the time and used on his late 70s work. Following the dissolution of his band 'Van Der Graaf Generater', Hammill's solo output had increased and this was one of many solo albums released during the 80s. Peo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1020160) | Posted by 201101454 | Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I absolutely love this album! The 80's sound suits the songs quite well and the overall feeling is rather upbeat for a Hammill album at least. Songwriting is strong and makes for a coherent album, unlike some of the man's solo work. Accessible melodies and catchy choruses are no exception on Sitt ... (read more)

Report this review (#165064) | Posted by kaibe | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Having recently purchased the remastered version of this album, I was staggered about how good it still sounds, not only sonically, due to the remastering but musically, and the passion in Hammill's voice is there for all to hear. To suggest as some have, that Hammill merely shouts his way thro ... (read more)

Report this review (#149715) | Posted by Gog/Magog | Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I think "Sitting targets" and "Black box" are the best Hammill albums from 1977-1984 era. FEw of the songs became a basis for live material for K groupp and for Hammill solo concerts - and they're really worth it - Stranger still, central hotel, empresses clothes - these are great songs. This ... (read more)

Report this review (#73055) | Posted by kajetan | Saturday, March 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album features some of the most popular songs of Peter Hammill (close-to-conventional- rock ones), which afterwards became live favourites for the K-Group. It's worth buying anyway, especially for newcomers. Though I do like live versions of these songs more than the studio ones, I would d ... (read more)

Report this review (#17838) | Posted by The Thin Man | Sunday, July 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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