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Peter Hammill

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Peter Hammill Fireships album cover
3.56 | 151 ratings | 8 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Will Find You (4:43)
2. Curtains (5:43)
3. His Best Girl (5:00)
4. Oasis (5:37)
5. Incomplete Surrender (6:38)
6. Fireships (7:21)
7. Given Time (6:32)
8. Reprise (4:18)
9. Gaia (5:32)

Total Time: 52:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitar (1,6,7), keyboards (1,3,5,6), piano (2,7,9), bass (6), percussion (1,4,6), strings & winds (5), co-producer

- David Lord / keyboards (2,4,7), orchestration (2,9), bass & percussion (4), strings & winds (7), samplers (8), co-producer
- John Ellis / guitar (5)
- Stuart Gordon / violin (2-6)
- David Jackson / soprano sax & flute (4), alto sax (6)
- Nic Potter / bass (1,3,5)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Ridout

Cass Fie! Records ‎- FIEC 9103 (1992, UK)

CD Fie! Records - FIE 9103 (1992, UK)
CD Rockport Records / Rough Trade - 388 7003241 (?, Germany)
CD Fie! Records - FIE 9103 (2006, UK) Remastered

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

PETER HAMMILL Fireships ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PETER HAMMILL Fireships reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Yet another intriguing album from Hammill , at least from the artwork point of view and for a long time, I thought there was a link with The Roaring Forties and its intriguing artwork also, but thankfully Fireship is a much better album than TRF. The main obvious difference is that the drumming is not quite as awful as on the other album, but it still is a very basic straight-ahead boring sound. Actually this remark is valid for a lot of Hammill's albums where Guy Evans is absent. And I would never thought I'd say this one day, but actually I wish Hammill would've used drum machines rather than ask drummers to play this poor and unimaginative. Oooops, I think he actually does on this one... ;o)o)

Aside from this remark (I specify again this is valid for many of his records), the album is rather above the average compared to his entire discography, but again the same remarks also applies to this album regarding the choice (dare I say the relevance?) of the tracks: half of them would've gained their inclusion elsewhere. Hammill's usual collabs of the time are again present (Potter, Gordon and to a lesser extent Ellis and Jackson), but the difference with this album is David Lord with his kb, strings orchestral arrangements and he even gets a co-writing credit and a co-production credit. Not that his contributions are changing anything under the Hammill Sun, as the tracks are still generally slow-paced allowing for some interesting ambiances (start of Incomplete Surrender), but again this album fails to take off. I realize that Hammill's songs (with generally extremely profound and personal lyrics) are not designed to "take-off", but we can only be slightly disappointed when the tracks speed up slightly, the level of decibels slightly rise above the quiet-mark, only to be cruelly deceived when the track falls back down to its previous levels. Exception must be made of the lengthier title track, which does temporarily raise the tone of voice, but it is unfortunately marred by awful drum programming sounds.

Not anymore than essential than his other records from the era, the least we can say is that Hammill's inspirations were not at an all-time high in the early 90's. Best discovered after his 70's and early 80's (and even his 00's) albums.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars The good thing with Peter Hammill, is that you never know if you're going to get some brilliant music or average one (or is this a bad thing ?). What's for sure is that I far much prefer the man being surrounded by other musicians than playing as a true and desperate solo artist.

Not that it automatically leads to a masterpiece but at least those efforts were more attractive to my ears. Old friend Jackson is back here again, which is always a relief as far as I'm concerned. But, again: it is not always a guarantee of a great release.

This album holds some excellent numbers, as the wonderful "Curtains". Fully Hammill. Fully Graaf. All the emotion of the great man sweats every second of this song. Dark and low tone voice, discreet instruments backing his so special voice. My fave of the album. A passionate number. And I like passion.

It is funny but each time that I listen to the man, he often manages to thrill me. It is probably due to his special voice which attracts me so much. And the story is now going on for almost thirty five years. With the Graaf or in solo. The magic operated many times. A pure and simple song as "His Best Girl" is another example of the feeling Peter can convey.

Unfortunately, this album is not so performing throughout all the numbers. "Incomplete Surrender" being rather difficult to bear and "Fireships" as well as "Given Time" are just average.

In all, this album started quite well, but my interest dropped rather rapidly and the second part of "Fireships" doesn't match at all my expectations of this "solo" album. "Reprise" being probably the most boring song from this work.

This second half conveys too many extremely tranquil songs. Too tranquil, actually.

I am so sorry that Peter didn't pursue in the direction that this album starts. As such, two stars is the highest rating I can think of.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Ever since 1986, Hammill got into a habit, a habit of releasing a ballad album and a rock album in turns. Fireships would serve as a decent ballad album while the ensuing The Noise is supposed to satisfy our need for 90's Hammill rock.

You wouldn't believe it when hearing the lame opener I Will Find You, but this album has actually turned out to be quite an interesting batch of tasteful and intimate songs. With Curtains, His Best Girl and Oasis, he actually has 3 excellent mellow songs in a row. And my enjoyment does not only depend on his new-found inspiration, Hammill must have gotten him self a midi-upgrade for Christmas as he accomplished a really warm and lush sound.

If it wasn't for a nasty key change in the chorus, Incomplete Surrender could have continued the high quality standard. On the title track, Hammill has another clumsy try at using the drum machine. Skip. Given Time is better, with a little guitar picking to accompany the mellow melodies. Not bad but the whole affair is starting to get a bit drowsy. If the opening of Reprise doesn't awake you from the sleepy feel that must have overcome you by now then nothing will. Loud midi-violins that must have escaped the final mix of Usher are guaranteed to wake you up again. For just 20 seconds, before the songs quiets down again and the album finds its final rest with Gaia.

Around 23 minutes of nicely textured mellow ballads. Not enough for 3 stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars Peter Hammill is a long-time favourite of mine, but his vast and many-sided solo discography is challenging to get to know thoroughly. Several of the 80's and 90's albums are partly familiar to me via PH compilations. Fireships and the next one, The Noise (1993) together demonstrate the dichotomic ways in Hammill's creativity. While the latter is noisy and rocking, Fireships concentrates on the softer side. Sadly Hammill's idea of "BeCalm" series of albums didn't materialize further. Of his collaborators only multi-talent co-producer David Lord and violinist Stuart Gordon appear on most tracks here. Two other Graaf mates, bassist Nic Potter and flautist/saxophonist David Jackson, have smaller contributions.

The opener 'I Will Find You' is one of the most unoriginal pop ballads Hammill has ever recorded. The freshness soon wears out as the banal love song just keeps on repeating the same. 'Curtains' is a deeply emotional slow-tempo song featuring piano and a string arrangement. 'His Best Girl' is another highlight, extremely delicate and moody song with interesting lyrics about a possessive relastionship. 'Oasis' has a Middle-Eastern flavour on soft percussion and soprano sax (slightly reminding me of Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack). Not quite as moving as the two songs before it, but still very good. 'Incomplete Surrender' continues on the slow and delicate route. A bit too extended at nearly seven minutes, and at this point the listener starts to feel sleepy.

The title track grows from the sonic sparseness la Out of Water (1990) to the edgier and more synthetic sound of Roaring Forties (1994). Even the use of drum machine is justified, to give some variety to the mellow album. 'Given Time' is a slow ballad in which the elegant electric guitar sounds are colouring the sparseness nicely. Also the final song 'Gaia' is in a very slow tempo, and the sonic delicacy builds up to cathartic passion. Cinematic, deeply emotional and perhaps a bit syrupy. All in all, Fireships is pretty well executed set of mellow and passionate songs. Those listeners wishing for more edginess may feel disappointed (and narcotic), but if you're fond of Peter Hammill at his calmest, this is definitely an album worth checking out.

Latest members reviews

5 stars What can one say? This is simply beauty, lean power, eerie, and one of the best efforts by Mr. Peter Hammill. He hits the mark with his vocals, lyrics and production, which must have been shaped with the talents of David Lord. Art song, by art song, you're taken down a path of (of course with H ... (read more)

Report this review (#1080808) | Posted by tmay102436 | Sunday, November 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Work announced in 1991 "Fireship". It makes to the serene silence by the orchestra and the becoming it work collection of profundity. It is an album of a voluminous style. The violin of Stuart Gordon is beautiful.One of his best works of the 80s and the 90s.I love this album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#47270) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just Out of water Fireships appeared on the horizon and this is my absolute beloved among the PH solo albums. It is very intimate, but on the other hand, it is not about 'I' and 'my' and 'me' but instead about 'we'. Sometimes it is difficult to perceive Hammill's music just because it is too p ... (read more)

Report this review (#18749) | Posted by | Saturday, October 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The intimate side of Peter Hammill: most of the raucous elements of his sound are kept away on this one: only romantic yet uncanny atmospheric, melodic songs, with saxophone (D. Jackson), violin and orchestral layers. One of his best works of the 80s and the 90s... Recommended! ... (read more)

Report this review (#18746) | Posted by | Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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