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Peter Hammill

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Peter Hammill In A Foreign Town album cover
2.86 | 110 ratings | 8 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hemlock (6:30)
2. Invisible Ink (4:19)
3. Sci-Finance (Revisited) (4:22)
4. This Book (5:14)
5. Time To Burn (3:44)
6. Auto (3:58)
7. Vote Brand X (4:03)
8. Sun City Night Life (4:34)
9. The Play's The Thing (4:54)
10. Under Cover Names (4:19)
11. Smile (5:18)
12. Time To Burn(Instrumental) (3:44)

Total Time: 54:55

Bonus tracks on 1988 Restless & 1995 Fie! releases:
11. Smile (5:18)
12. Time To Burn (Instrumental) (3:43)

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, producer

- Stuart Gordon / violin (1)
- Paul Ridout / sound creation (MIDI, electronics)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Ridout with Armando Gallo and Hilary Hammill (photos)

LP Enigma - ENEVLP 512 (1988, UK)

CD Restless Records ‎- 7 72337-2 (1988, Canada) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Fie! Records ‎- FIE 9108 (1995, UK) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PETER HAMMILL In A Foreign Town ratings distribution

(110 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

PETER HAMMILL In A Foreign Town reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by slipperman
1 stars Why do so many Hammill fans buy records like this, knowing they aren't all great and that we won't listen to them often? Because between Van Der Graaf Generator and his many solo albums, we know we'll always be rewarded with something worthwhile; even the worst albums usually have a song or two to make the trip worthwhile. 'In A Foreign Town', unfortunately, is the least remarkable album that Hammill has ever been involved with (at least, of the 25 or so that I'm familiar with). I can only recommended it to masochists, like me, who need to hear everything this intriguing artist has recorded. The album is a miserable slog of a journey, bleak and cold tunes made even colder by a sterile recording job. Even the promise of a re-worked V.D.G.G. song, "Sci-Finance", is not capitalized upon, feeling stiff in its dumbed-down new-wave styled production (robotic drums, cheesy guitar sounds, etc.). Things sink much further with "This Book", which I find to be the hardest Hammill-penned song to listen to, flirting too much with new-age adult pop strains for my liking. "Auto" is another offender, hinting at Gary Numan/Kraftwerk sort of stuff, something I can't deal with and something even fans of that sort of stuff probably wouldn't find all that impressive. Most of the other songs arent so much awful as they are faceless. Only "Time To Burn" is up to the man's usual standards, a song with a real depth of wisdom, an introspective downbeat to the rest of the album's more upbeat, dance-able (yes..."dance-able") material. Inexplicably there's an instrumental version of "Time To Burn" at the end of the album, an idea he would later employ to better effect on 1996's 'X My Heart' album with "A Better Time". "The Play's The Thing" is also quite you get two downcast bits of beauty on this otherwise way-too-dippy album.

No, I don't hear a lot on 'In A Foreign Town' that can be recommended to any but the most rabid Hammill completist. Part of the problem is the fact that Hammill generated all of the sounds, as opposed to having real live musicians with real wood-and-string instruments lending a hand. This helps give the album that sterile quality noted earlier, but it also isn't his best clutch of songs either.not by a longshot.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars "In A Foreign Town" is definitely NOT an entry album to Peter's solo repertoire. Peter was experimenting with computer sounds and I'm kind of mixed with the result.

Very much "eighties" oriented (Hemlock, "Auto"), it is very difficult to apprehend. I've tried several times, without great success, I'm afraid. If you're looking to the delicate Hammill, you won't find it here. If you're looking to some VDGG substance, forget it as well.

So, what's left?

Well, not too much, I'm afraid. Some political messages, a couple of covers.And these synthetic sounds almost all the way through. Not too great. Even Peter's voice seems to have changed. It sounds flat, with very little emotion ("Invisible Ink").

Peter does play several instruments on this album and frankly, having him as a percussionist is not the best musical experience you could expect. No highlights, at best a couple of good songs like "This book" and my fave one "Time To Burn" which features some very pleasant background keys. Actually, this song is very emotional and is an homage to the recent deceased Tony Stratton-Smith (the founder of the extraordinary Charisma label).

Even if the album gets better towards its end ("The Play's The Thing") it is one of the weakest that Peter has released so far. And I've reviewed fifteen or so prior to this one.

Only for die-hard fans who are curious to discover each facet of this great man. But he isn't on this album. Just listen to "Under Cover Names" to get the confirmation.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In A Foreign Town would be the most obvious choice if you want to slate a Hammill album. Upon its release it didn't go well with the fans and it's only valued for serving as a reviewer's dummy to try your critical talent on. It's especially useful to test your skills needed to knock an album to death with vicious words and slander!

Well I wonder why that is. Apart from a few questionable sound choices (widely discussed in all other reviews already) and a few dips in the song writing, this is a collection of enjoyable rock songs of the slightly more commercial type, similar to Skin, but far more convincing. In fact, this album should easily please you if you liked Sitting Targets and Enter K. And really, I doesn't sound all that bad.

Hemlock is an epic opener. Brooding synths serve as an intro for a strong tune with great steady processed rhythms. Invisible Ink and Sci-Finance are good Hammill rockers. This Book isn't really great though and hardly survives its cheesy drum computer and weak vocal melodies. It's one of the disappointing moments. Another one would be the inadequate Sun City Night Life.

But with Auto and Under Cover Names Hammill continues to deliver good rock songs. All they need is a real band to execute them really. Time to Burn and The Play's the Thing are new hits in the ever expanding canon of tasteful Hammill ballads.

With some more attention to detail and a bit of self-scrutiny, Hammill could have culled one 4 star album out of the material present on Skin and In A Foreign Town. Instead we're stuck with two unaccomplished albums. 3.5 stars for this one.

Latest members reviews

2 stars I guess some people like this stuff, but dated production and average songs spoil it for me. Perhaps Hammill was feeling left behind by this time and wanted to try out the new ways of music, or wanted to update the do it yourself style that made The Future Now so irresistible. But whatever it is, ... (read more)

Report this review (#453591) | Posted by JackFloyd | Sunday, May 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have always been intrigued by the music of Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator. Peter's music is powerfull, emotional, creative, original, but pretty dark. There have been years that I was waiting for a new album to release. At a certain moment, I realised that Hammills music was mostl ... (read more)

Report this review (#260751) | Posted by mscbox | Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For those of us who make Midi-music, this album was an early inspiration and example of composing and arranging expressively with samplers & sequencers, combined with live guitars. It has some wonderful song- writing, including biting political satire that's more than relevant today (Hemlock ... (read more)

Report this review (#63737) | Posted by RoyalJelly | Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Hammill's "In a foreign Town" is not an album, that you should start your adventure with a PH's creative power. Problem is not with a bad or hard songs that this one include, but rather interpreations. Mr. Hammill write on His page, that using of rythm ("plastic drums") in some tracks w ... (read more)

Report this review (#48463) | Posted by Artur Pokojski | Monday, September 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars OK, this is one of the pH albums I hardly re-visit and perhaps deserves a star less. Very much a child of its time and nowhere as timeless as Peter Gabriel albums of the era it sill has a few noteworthy tracks. Lyrically Hammill is contemplating the acutalities of Our World at the time and at ... (read more)

Report this review (#18107) | Posted by | Friday, October 1, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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