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Peter Hammill

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Peter Hammill Skin album cover
2.88 | 146 ratings | 12 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Skin (4:18)
2. After the Show (4:20)
3. Painting by Numbers (4:01)
4. Shell (4:18)
5. All Said and Done (3:40)
6. A Perfect Date (4:11)
7. Four Pails (4:26)
8. Now Lover (9:47)

Total Time 39:01

Bonus tracks on 1986 Date Rec. CD:
9. You Hit Me Where I Live (single) (4:27) *
10. Painting by Numbers (extended version) (4:43)

* Also as bonus track on 1986 Enigma LP & 2007 remastered CD

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitars, keyboards (Yamaha DX7 synth), Emu drum machine, producer

- Stuart Gordon / violin, viola
- Hugh Banton / cello
- David Jackson / saxes
- Guy Evans / drums, percussion
- David Coulter / didgeridoo
- David Luckhurst / voice
- Paul Ridout / electronics

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Ridout and Peter Hammill

LP Date Records - DALP 400145 J (1986, Germany)
LP Enigma Records - ST 73206 (1986, US) With 1 bonus song placed as track #6

CD Virgin - CDOVD 344 (1986, UK)
CD Date Records ‎- DACD 9.00145 O (1986, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Charisma ‎- FONDCDR 3 (2007, Europe) Remastered w/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PETER HAMMILL Skin ratings distribution

(146 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

PETER HAMMILL Skin reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by slipperman
2 stars I figured it would be fun to review all the Peter Hammill albums that I have, and decided to work backward in time. Right now I'm revisiting many of his '80s albums, and it's been tough. This decade saw Hammill repeating himself too often, certainly more than he does in his more divergent '90s output. 'Skin' appeared in 1985 and possesses all the failures of his other weak albums from this period: thin, brittle digital-age production; depressing and droning vocal delivery; lack of energy. That said, 'Skin' does have a few redeeming moments, even offering a more organic recording approach on stuff like "Four Pails" and "Now Lover". It seems to radically increase in quality during the back half, starting with "You Hit Me Where I Live". "Four Pails" is the most musically spare song on the album, the mood is rich with reflection, acting as a perfect vehicle for Hammill's sober laments. The album ends with "Now Lover", which would've fit on earlier albums such as 'The Future Now' or 'A Black Box'. The first half is a quietly churning bit of tension, opening up in the final half toward the most organic and prog-ish sequence on the album. Beautiful, withering saxophone melancholy is reeled off in the final minutes (I assume it is David Jackson playing, but my vinyl copy doesn't come with any kind of credits).

Your patience with the 5 or 6 bland songs ("Painting By Numbers" being a particularly grating listen) will be rewarded with a few peak moments in the album's later stages. The unremarkable tunes are typical of Hammill's output from this era. If you're a fan/follower, you'll know what to expect when I say that. If you're a newcomer to Hammill, it just means you should probably investigate his much better '70s work before entering his precarious '80s era.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The whole gang is back together for this album. For the good or for the worse?

When one listens to the opener and title track, the first option is definitely the one. Fully eighties oriented with dreadful electro sounds. Peter never compromised so far. But maybe it is just an accident (even if it is repeated with "Painting By Numbers").

It sounds so with the next "After The Show" which is all sweetness and atmospheric mood. Even Jackson on sax is so discreet, as if he wouldn't want his instrument to be heard too much. A very pleasant song anyway.

The intimate Hammill (which is a fine facet of this great artist) is back for "Shell". He seems to be in piece with himself. Composition are more harmonious, even light (!) at times. A temporary end to his tortured style maybe?

But apart from these two good songs, few are really of high interest. But Peter is highly emotional during the beautifully cold Four Pails. Again, full of tact and harmony. Immaculate beauty.

It is a great prologue to the closing and epic number. Now Lover. A very touching and profund piece of music. The most (and only) VDGG oriented. The heavy sax, the complex drumming are back. This song is the most intricate of all on Skin, but even so it sounds accessible. And that's how one might consider this album. Accessible. At least in Hammill's standard.

In all, this album is a good one. Still, these two blunders could have been avoided (Skin and Painting).

Three stars.

Review by Kazuhiro
2 stars This album became the Solo album of the 14th totaling piece for Hammill. The depth of lyrics that a little difficult part and man created might have been remarkable in his work till then. It is ..composition of a good quality tune.. finished in this album by making good use of a technology at that time and machine parts.

Because the tune that listens easily is collected, a few elements of POP and impressions of groping might be given to the fan of hammill. However, the fact that establishes a real recording studio by him in the 80's and develops the creation of the music further is known well. Help of machine parts by the fact and Paul Ridout that he tried to put out the element of the band with this album splendidly expresses the directionality of the album though only the technology of machine parts at that time in this album stands out a little.

And, the point that should make a special mention is true said that Guy Evans and David Jackson also will participate in this album. The fan of Hammill might have expected this album was not a simple work in no small way by their working. The fan also certainly had the opinion that said that it will be a start of groping this work. However, it is guessed that a state-of-the-art technology revolutionized it to the flow of the directionality at which not the work said that it will be easy to listen simply compared with the work before but Hammill at that time aimed coming in succession well.

When this album is applied from the image etc. of the tune of the graceful impression seen in "A Black Box" and "Sitting Targets", etc. , I might feel some advancement and conversions of directionality. It is necessary to catch and it cannot know that the width of the creation of Hammill extended more than ..POP.. element however.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Skin is easily the most disappointing album Hammill had made till then. It's a mixed bag, with horrible attempts at commercial pop and a few good but far from essential songs.

Skin and Painting By Numbers are horrible pop affairs with lifeless drum programming, uninspired instrumentations and cringe worthy vocals. After The Show is something entirely different, a moody ballad with lush and tasty keyboards. Also Shell and Four Pails aren't bad, be it a bit lame and mellow. All Said and Done and Now Lover are amorphous and uninspired songs, devoid of anything memorable. A Perfect Date is a bit better, strong melodies, but again a rather uninvolved arrangement.

It's quite a contrast with the preceding album Patience. Skin is easily Hammill's most inconsistent studio album till that point.

Review by TGM: Orb
4 stars (There's Something Out To Get You) Under The Skin

Ostensibly a half-dozen comparatively conventional pop songs heavy on synthesisers with some odd sound choices, an oddity or two and a rare genuine Hammill solo 'epic' (reason enough to get the album), this album is everywhere looking at the question of identity. While much of the material here is not as radical and daring as, say, Loops and Reels or as atmospherically intense as the K Group stuff, it is of a consistently decent standard and concludes *very* powerfully with perhaps Hammill's two best pieces from the 80s.

Following a three year break from studio work, Hammill has returned with Evans and Jackson as well as a few guest performances, and is heavy on sonic manipulation. While previous reviewers have focussed on the more obvious organ and brass synths (though these are often interestingly wrapped around Jackson's leads) and treated drum sounds, I think the pay-off comes on the bass parts (hitting sounds from the hardcore electronic in A Perfect Date to an almost classical disdain in Four Pails) and the wonderful tingling keyboard sounds on Now Lover.

Skin is an idiosyncratic pop/rock song with howling guitar, aggressive vocals and a neat vocal line. The lyrics are fitting. Synth-brass will probably be a deal-breaker for some, but (despite Hammill's reservations about the playing here) I'm still very fond of Painting By Numbers. Pop song three doesn't quite come off as well as either of those, I think; All Said And Done doesn't really pull together until the end, despite the neat lyric.

Two slower numbers: Shell and After The Show are slower and more atmospheric. On both of them, the detail of (I think, though the former includes some programmed sounds) Evans' part is quite valuable and Hammill's lyrics and vocals are especially haunting. The latter is basically made by Jackson's howling introspective solo; Shell features some of the album's more curious sound choices and lyrics. I'm still not completely sure about the lyrics and opening on A Perfect Date but the rest is solid enough. Hammill's many vocals include some of the lowest leads and maddest harmonies from the album and the use of a guest vocalist is something rather rare for a Hammill album. Anyway, the drum part is way cool, as is the almost Levin-like bass.

Four Pails (written by Chris Judge Smith and Max Hutchinson) is quite possibly the album's best piece. Hammill puts together a one-man choir and a powerful lead, a raw sonic backdrop sometimes drawing on his earlier musique concrete experience, a straight piano (rare on this record) and arranges both classical (Stuart Gordon on violin) and decidedly modern electronic instrumentation. The lyrics are very heavy, and for a cover it fits remarkably well into the album, reaching into both the questions, of identity and of time, that permeate it.

'Four pails of water, and a bag full of salts That is all she was all my lover represented That sounds just as mad As saying she will never die' Cheerful pop lyrics, eh...

Now Lover: dijeridu, treated sax, self-harmonies contrasting with lone vocals, Guy Evans, a searing lyric about sex with suitably mild but intriguing reference to science and philosophy, a drone incorporated into regular music, heavy use of sound treatment and synths of various descriptions... utterly, completely mad. And, start to finish, it's brilliant. Features one of David Jackson's finest performances. Not to be missed.

Rounding procedures off, at least on the remaster, is You Hit Me Where I Live, an obviously spontaneous pop/rock song with awesome vocal and guitar parts. Great song, but I'm not sure it belongs after Now Lover.

Much as the 80s aesthetic and pop structure of a lot of the material here will be an insurmountable obstacle for some, a look beneath the surface of this album shows the arteries and beating heart of a great musician. I personally think this is a damn good album, a rare genuinely experimental prog album from the late 80s by an artist still staking out new ground for himself, and there are at least two songs here that no Hammill fan should be without. 4 Stars. Get it if you don't hate the 80s.

Rating: 12/15, Four Stars. Favourite Track: Four Pails or Now Lover

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I recall being delighted with Peter Hamill's signing with Enigma Records in the mid 1980's. In those years, there was a dearth of progressive artists on the US major labels. Rush was in the midst of their least progressive period, King Crimson had come and gone again, Yes was in their Rabin lineup...

EMI/Capitol records was the only label that appeared to be using prog artists as anything but loss leaders, bands to use as tax write-offs. EMI had Marillion, Ozric Tentacles, Jethro Tull, and Peter Hammill.

While this album doesn't rank up there with Hammill's best, it's not bad. I actuall prefer this one over the more introspective albums that followed on the label. I think Hammill needs side musicians to give his music a feeling of completeness. When he records with just himself playing guitar of keyboards, I find myself imagining the parts added by David Jackson and Hugh Banton on his earlier releases. Both players are here, along with others, most notably Guy Evans, who plays better drums than Hammill does, when he tries it.

The music here is simple but draws the listener in. Hammill's usual slightly angular way of arranging the instruments works well. Most of the lyrics are more in the romantic vein than I prefer from Hammill, but at least they are as personal, and as usual, sung like he means them. And he never goes into that screechy mode that can sometimes be off-putting.

My copy, the US Enigma LP, has You Hit Me Where I Live, which apparently was left off of some versions. That's too bad. I think it's the best track of the lot.

3.5 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars Musically this is probably one of Peter Hammill's least distinguished albums, but Hammill's lyrics nevertheless raise the best moments on this album to impressive heights. In particular, 'After the Show' is a brilliant meditation on performance and identity, neatly juxtaposing the lines 'He'll be d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1107910) | Posted by jmeadow | Sunday, January 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The 80's were difficult years for prog. It is seen (heard) in the reviewed album, "Skin" by Peter Hammill, which (an album) is infected by the mainstream tendencies and synthetic sounds in songs like "Skin" or "Painting by Numbers". However, Hammill always has been out and beyond the time, dep ... (read more)

Report this review (#80393) | Posted by Fassbinder | Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's very strange for me, but "Skin" isn't a popular album. There are a lot of critical voices, unjust in my opinion. "Skin" is still fresh album with some gems inside like "After the Show", "Shell", brilliant "Now lover" and one of my Mr. Hammill's favourite "Four Pails" for instance. Judge's ... (read more)

Report this review (#46830) | Posted by Artur Pokojski | Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I think previous reviewers are being a little harsh here admittedly not one Hammill's best works but nevertheless there is some worthy material here.The metaphysical musings of Four Pails is worth the price of this album alone add to this Shell and All said and done and you have worthwhile lis ... (read more)

Report this review (#18093) | Posted by dougiejs | Sunday, January 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This is the first VDGG/pH recording I was truly disappointed with. There is not one single track that stirred my emotions. Also, where previous work has been viseral, this recording is forced lyrically. Only for those of us that must have everything Peter Hammill does. ... (read more)

Report this review (#18092) | Posted by | Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I'm giving this two thumbs down. What was the great man thinking? Apart from "Four pails of water", "After the show" and "Shell" the content is uninspired, pop driven dross. Surely he didn't expect die hard fans accustomed to challenging offerings like "A Black Box" or "The Silent Corner of the E ... (read more)

Report this review (#18091) | Posted by | Saturday, January 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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