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PETER HAMMILL

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Peter Hammill biography
Peter Joseph Andrew Hammill - Born 5 November 1948 (Ealing, West London, England)

Peter HAMMILL is one of the most unique and influential voices in prog. He was the pivotal figure in VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VDGG for short) who formed in 1967 at Manchester University. His obsession with lost love, lost faith, time, space and existence itself are the cornerstones of both his work with the band and his solo albums. He was also their principle songwriter. The classic line-up was the HAMMILL, Banton, Jaxon, Evans combo which produced the peak "Pawn Hearts", "Still Life" and "Godbluff" albums. He has since brought out at least 30 solo albums, marked by lyrics of the utmost insight (usually) and a total refusal to compromise. Their complex music, as often brutal as it was lyrical, fitted somewhat uneasily into the once and then niche of Progressive Rock. An interesting figure whose albums certainly merit investigation..!

The first of a classic trilogy in progressive rock history, "Chameleon"... and its companion pieces "The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage" and "In Camera", are as good if not better than many of the VDGG albums. FOR FANS OF PETER HAMMILL...!

See also:
- Van Der Graaf Generator
- The Long Hello
- Isildurs Bane

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PETER HAMMILL discography


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PETER HAMMILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 389 ratings
Fool's Mate
1971
4.03 | 424 ratings
Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night
1973
4.31 | 968 ratings
The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
1974
4.14 | 446 ratings
In Camera
1974
3.79 | 325 ratings
Nadir's Big Chance
1975
3.96 | 382 ratings
Over
1977
3.51 | 252 ratings
The Future Now
1978
3.65 | 246 ratings
pH7
1979
3.93 | 284 ratings
A Black Box
1980
3.54 | 207 ratings
Sitting Targets
1981
3.71 | 177 ratings
Enter K
1982
3.68 | 167 ratings
Patience
1983
3.14 | 96 ratings
Loops & Reels
1983
2.67 | 46 ratings
The Love Songs
1984
2.88 | 150 ratings
Skin
1986
3.49 | 151 ratings
And Close As This
1986
2.86 | 110 ratings
In A Foreign Town
1988
3.32 | 124 ratings
Out Of Water
1990
3.42 | 115 ratings
The Fall Of The House Of Usher
1991
2.96 | 70 ratings
Peter Hammill-Guy Evans: Spur of the Moment
1991
3.57 | 155 ratings
Fireships
1992
2.78 | 102 ratings
The Noise
1993
2.32 | 53 ratings
Offensichtlich Goldfisch
1993
3.28 | 108 ratings
Roaring Forties
1994
3.21 | 106 ratings
X My Heart
1996
2.44 | 74 ratings
Sonix
1996
3.43 | 103 ratings
Everyone You Hold
1997
3.44 | 102 ratings
This
1998
2.73 | 56 ratings
Roger Eno & Peter Hammill: The Appointed Hour
1999
3.92 | 97 ratings
The Fall Of The House Of Usher (New Version)
1999
2.81 | 78 ratings
None Of The Above
2000
3.26 | 87 ratings
What , Now?
2001
2.74 | 62 ratings
Unsung
2001
3.57 | 91 ratings
Clutch
2002
3.74 | 126 ratings
Incoherence
2004
3.54 | 114 ratings
Singularity
2006
3.32 | 115 ratings
Thin Air
2009
3.60 | 87 ratings
Consequences
2012
3.51 | 87 ratings
Peter Hammill/Gary Lucas: Other World
2014
3.64 | 59 ratings
...All That Might Have Been...
2014
3.67 | 57 ratings
From The Trees
2017
3.29 | 31 ratings
In Translation
2021
3.60 | 5 ratings
In a Foreign Town / Out of Water 2023
2023

PETER HAMMILL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 59 ratings
Peter Hammill & The K Group: The Margin
1985
3.36 | 48 ratings
Room Temperature Live
1990
3.76 | 40 ratings
There Goes the Daylight
1993
3.68 | 39 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1995
3.24 | 21 ratings
Tides
1996
3.34 | 31 ratings
The Union Chapel Concert (with Guy Evans)
1997
4.31 | 53 ratings
Typical (Solo Performances)
1999
3.91 | 49 ratings
Veracious (with Stuart Gordon)
2006
3.50 | 22 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII
2009
4.00 | 15 ratings
PNO GTR VOX - Live Performances
2011
3.89 | 18 ratings
Live At Rockpalast - Hamburg 1981
2016
3.40 | 10 ratings
X/Ten
2019
3.83 | 6 ratings
Not Yet Not Now
2019

PETER HAMMILL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.85 | 15 ratings
In The Passionskirche - Berlin MCMXCII (video)
1992

PETER HAMMILL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 12 ratings
Vision
1978
3.79 | 5 ratings
The Essential Collection
1986
4.00 | 4 ratings
Enter K / Patience
1986
3.00 | 3 ratings
Il Rock - De Agostini (n. 62)
1989
3.00 | 3 ratings
Peter Hammill
1990
3.98 | 19 ratings
The Calm (After The Storm)
1993
3.35 | 18 ratings
The Storm (Before The Calm)
1993
3.06 | 11 ratings
Past Go - Collected
1996
3.13 | 8 ratings
After The Show (A Collection)
1996
3.00 | 3 ratings
Ο Άγγελος Του Παράξενου
1997
2.40 | 10 ratings
The Thin Man Sings Ballads
2001
3.50 | 2 ratings
Fools Mate / In Camera
2003
3.34 | 13 ratings
Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances
2012
4.20 | 10 ratings
Not Yet, Not Now
2019
2.50 | 6 ratings
The K Box
2019

PETER HAMMILL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.38 | 8 ratings
Red Shift
1973
2.46 | 7 ratings
Birthday Special / Shingle Song
1975
2.44 | 6 ratings
Crying Wolf
1977
3.20 | 5 ratings
If I Could
1978
1.50 | 7 ratings
My Experience
1981
3.40 | 5 ratings
Paradox Drive
1982
3.00 | 4 ratings
Film Noir
1983
2.34 | 10 ratings
Just Good Friends
1985
2.60 | 5 ratings
Painting by Numbers
1986
1.75 | 4 ratings
A Fix On The Mix
1992

PETER HAMMILL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Future Now by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.51 | 252 ratings

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The Future Now
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Fercandio46

4 stars Something turns on in the brain when faced with the right stimulus...and when a note sounds that seems to "misfit", an alert takes us back from any lethargy in which we might be immersed, it is the door to another way of feeling, less linear if If you like, something like that happens to me with this album. Breakthrough within his own style but with classics of pure Hamillian strain such as "If I Could", "Still In The Dark" or "The Future Now", where he unearthed once again his love for that English classical composer called Henry Purcell. Like him, Hammill created his own Baroque. There are classic periods in life, and others of experimentation, I would dare to say (and this is a personal interpretation) that it is like a kind of trilogy, of which the album that concerns us, "The Future Now", is the first part, "pH7" the second and "A Black Box" the third. All three with nods to the past as well as a flirtation with the future, are a period of transition, but also of search and encounter. Meeting of a life after Van Der Graaf, and therefore uneven, but I consider that not all great works should be homogeneous. There is a new style of recording on this album, a search for updating that can already be seen in the style of recording and singing in "The Second Hand", this is a dark album even within an artist who has frequently delved into those marine depths where light does not reach and whose philosophical inquiry questions the established average. Where post-modernity and antiquity coexist, it is not a door to another world... it is a door to another dimension. Pure melodies recognizable in their meter and cadence are here wrapped in a technological paraphernalia where the use of Electronics, Reverse effects, and Fuzz, either in the dialogues between Hammill's acoustics and Graham Smith's violin, or in the synthesizers creating a twilight psychedelic curtain more than symphonic, they elevate songs like "The Mousetrap" or "Energy Vampires" to another category. With "A Motorbike In Africa" ​​we delve into the depths of this journey, in the most experimental work he has ever done, that period that is only experienced in stages of youth where things are produced that are far from what one will be. Sometimes in these periods the most interesting thing emerges, and this is not only true for art but for life as well, it keeps us awake when human nature tends to do exactly the opposite. You can feel this listening to "The Cut", this entire part of the album with a certain German Krautrock air, crowned by that harmonica that is neither bluesy nor jazzy, but rather apocalyptic of "Palinurus (Castaway)", these last songs on the album They are a unit in themselves...a promise, a road-movie, where do they lead us? There are metaphors of rafts...castaways, a recurring obsession in his work, but he also talks about the "protraction" of doubt!, and how the action of dispelling...something good can emerge from this.
 Over by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.96 | 382 ratings

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Over
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by alainPP

3 stars VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR the underground band you had to listen to to go very far, to the center of the universe... passing through the smelly smoke bark, taking the sinuous and dark paths! Peter HAMMILL his indestructible spearhead goes solo to release some pearls, let's go!

1. Crying Wolf ... yes a voice, a riff, rock, like some Alice COOPER; a break in the two-finger piano solo, yes it can be done better anyway, used; fortunately there is a small final worked to save the impression 2. Autumn follows, that's it your is in deep intimacy; piano and violin in front; a bit of Robert WYATT, a bit of BOWIE for this scratchy voice, a bit of the soundtrack 'the phantom of paradise', good at the time, but today we are entering into the nostalgic of the nostalgic, the one that scares me because with blinkers; yes I know why I walked past without stopping, almost more spleen than ANATHEMA 3. Time Heals continues... on the same basis, piano more majestic all the same, voice still heavy, ready to collapse; yes there was the romantic turmoil, yes but hey we are not going to bring back his bride...and then one is lost... it goes up a notch, the crescendo prepares and starts with a simple and orchestral moment raw, a moment when nothing can be as before, well personally it's defeatist-depressed prog, but prog 4. Alice (Letting Go) for the last attempt at reconciliation, impossible; a title where even gaiety cannot enter, a title that even Jeff BUCKLEY could not have composed just before going to bathe; a raw acoustic guitar title where is highlighted, in the light??? (dark then the light!) Peter's voice 5. (This Side Of) The Looking Glass ... and it continues to plunge even further into the depths, this climate, this land from which no light can pierce! the flute, a symphonic, grandiloquent orchestration, a moment of deep solitude; a little bucolic too but just for the climate before the storm, for the mirror of the pond before the idea of diving into it; well you have to be really fit to... dive into it in this album, even Robert just after falling off his floor had even more energy and hope, 6. Betrayed for the bitterness and resentment bursting out of Peter's mouth, the acoustic guitar alone at his side; the heartbreaking violin comes to help you sink even further into the darkness... those who wanted me to listen to it... wanted me dead, that's for sure! Here it is the voice that becomes the crescendo in a high-pitched mode, then sub-acute then harassed high-pitched...a bit of calm at the end so as not to wither away immediately 7. (On Tuesdays She Used to Do) Yoga continues with a self-criticism of her behavior towards her history; a chiseled note balanced during the phrasing amplifies the power of its deadly, masochistic and dark side, an auto-da-fé, a pamphlet on brutal Love? a melancholy but fresh title here, brightening up the album 8. Lost and Found for the last one... and here I can allow myself to write it... yes there is definitely some LOU REED in these titles, for the torrid melancholy, for the slow and dark phrasing; yes there even more, darkness, ash, opaque smoke, and this long melodic crescendo sinks directly into it.

An album to listen to when you're in good shape, when you want to lock yourself away at home for a few months to forget everything, that's what this album can be used for.

 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 968 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Kabajohnny

5 stars I am writing this article of sorts as a means to explore whether 3 absolutely stone cold classics can 'upgrade' an album from an objective 4/5 to a 5/5. So lets start with some context.

Van Der Graaf Generator have arguably become my favourite band in the last year and a bit since I discovered them. I just love everything about them and their sound, from Hammill screaming existential opuses, to Jaxon's wailing sax, to Banton's unreal Hammond organ, to Guy Evans ripping the drum kit apart. So it would come as no suprise to anyone that I would delve head first into Peter's solo discography eventually. My first experince was with Nadir's Big Chance, which is pretty lighthearted and accesible compared to VDGG standards. But after that, my sights were immediately set on this one, as I found the album cover very special and kinda creepy. Also I have a thing where I can just kinda tell if I'm gonna like an album just from reading the song titles, which most of times rather uncanningly turns out to be accurate. I was totally prejudiced into liking this album already, as it is literally the most highly rated solo album of the principal songwriter of my favourite band. Context rambling out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

I managed to get through the whole album for the first time on New Years Day, kicking off the year in a proggy fashion. I had attemped to listen to the album in its entirety on two occasions before, but the first 3-4 tracks just exhausted me, which only served to enforce the legend of the 'ultimate VDGG lost album'. And to be honest, I probably needed another month after that to get a good grasp of this album. This is one of the reasons I think prog never became trully mainstream. It is complex music that requires literal effort and time to grasp, appreciate and enjoy , which is one of the things I love about it, and this album has been one of the toughest to crack. I think the fact that it has still got me thinking after 7 months of regularly listening to most of its songs means it has trully succeded in being a thought-provoking statement of artistic expression, which is what Peter and many other prog gods sought out to bless us with. So let's get to specifics.

The three tracks that for me are borderline 11/10 tracks are Modern, The Lie, and of course, A Louse Is Not A Home. From beginning to end, I find them to be flawless. Modern has that strange accoustic guitar driving the song along, a perfect example of a Sofa Sound masterpiece. "Like the inmates of asylums all the citizens are contagiously insane". Amen. The Lie is probably one of the main reasons why I'll get some piano lessons in the next couple of years(along with Pilgrims), those piano parts paired with Peter's stunning vocals are just orgasmic, no other word for it. Then......... what can I say about Louse that has not already been said. 12 minutes of exploring the nature of indentity and how to find your spiritual and literal place in the world, with musical passages that more than rise up to the task. Distorted bass, grand piano and a trully screaming sax perfomance tie together the lyrics with the music. A true epic. Proggy, dramatic, loud, sad, brilliant.

I would not blame you if you were to think that from the way I just praised those three songs , that I feel that way for every single song Hammill has written. As easy as it would be to force myself to believe that, it is simply not the case. While I have not found a song written by Peter that I honestly dislike, I don't have the same fondness for all of them. In terms of this album, the only song is find to be forgettable is Rubicon, it never made an impact on me. Wilhelmina, Forsaken Gardens and Red Shift are great and intersting tracks, just not on the level of the aforementioned three. When I was first listening to the album, Gardens was actually one of my favourite tracks, and while I will still blast it with furious joy, the others just kept getting better. Red Shift has that atmospheric-experimental glow, but I doubt anyone has listened to it on repeat. Great experimental passages and a cool vibe, but that's as far as it goes for songs of that character. Overall I think it is to be expected that a post-VDGG Hammill would let lose on his solo albums and take risks, since he didn't have to live up to the VDGG name and the reputation of being an ever-evolving ruthless and uncompromising prog machine. Regardless, he has always said that he always did what he liked, and never cared about opinions and expectations. But I once again digress.

So let's finally adress the question I posed as the motivation for writing this article. Taking into consideration the tracks that I don't hold so close to my heart, this album is a 4/5 if I'm being honest with my biased Hammill-Superfan self. But I can help, when taking into consideration how absolutely masterful those three tracks are, and how much room for different interpretations the other tracks leave, but to consider this essential listening for anyone with an intrest in uncompromising eclectic prog. It contains powerful lyrics that make you think and have something to say along with the eclectic instrumentation that we've come to love from Hammil and Co.l It belongs in the pantheon of prog, maybe not on the level of Thick As A Brick, Pawn Hearts or Red, but definetely somewhere in the mix.

 Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.03 | 424 ratings

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Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK progresive rock artist Peter Hammill. The album was released through Charisma Records in May 1973. Itīs the successor to "Foolīs Mate" from July 1971, but the two solo albums are bridged by the release of Hammillīs at the time main project Van der Graaf Generatorīs fourth full-length studio album "Pawn Hearts" from October 1971. As a consequence of the pressure of touring Van der Graaf Generator disbanded in mid-1972 and Hammill opted to pursue a solo career. Some of the material which ended up on "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" was originally written to be included on the (not to be) successor to "Pawn Hearts" (1972). "(In the) Black Room/The Tower" was even rehearsed by the band in the months before they split and all members of Van der Graaf Generator plus ex-member Nic Potter (bass) contributed to the recording of "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night".

If you expect that Hammill picks up where Van der Graaf Generator left off with "Pawn Hearts" (1971), you wonīt for the most part get what you expect with "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night". Except for the 10:53 minutes long "(In the) Black Room/The Tower", which as mentioned above was written while Van der Graaf Generator were still active, and therefore sounds unmistakably like that band, "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" is predominantly an experimental singer/singwriter album featuring quite a few tracks where the main ingredients are Hammill singing his paatos filled and dramatic vocal lines over stripped down instrumentation of either a guitar or a piano (sometimes both). A few tracks like "Rock and Rôle" and "Easy to Slip Away" stand out as they feature more "regular" rock instrumentation (drums, guitar, bass), which provide the album with some variation and a slight psychadelic touch.

Hammill has a distinct sounding voice and an extremely expressive delivery, and itīs usually a strength and a great asset to the projects he is involved in, but his original vocal style and the sound of his voice can also be difficult to listen to over a longer period, and when the instrumental parts of at least half of the tracks on the album are as stripped down and raw as they are here, Iīm often left a bit frustrated with the bareness of the backing and lack of climaxes. Tracks like "German Overalls" and "Slender Threads" seem to go on forever and go nowhere. Itīs a harsher evaluation than I had planned, and maybe also a bit too harsh, as I still enjoy parts of those tracks and the relatively anarchistic nature of the songwriting, but just a few more melodic hooks or interesting instrumental parts would have made the songs more complete and listenable.

To my ears the greatest attraction of "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" is definitely "(In the) Black Room/The Tower". Maybe because itīs the most progressive and adventurous track on the album or maybe because it sounds so much like Van der Graaf Generator. Itīs quite the dynamic, compositionally progressive, and well written track, which could well have fit on the last couple of preceding albums by Van der Graaf Generator (not surprisingly since it was written during that era). "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" is a relatively well produced affair, but Iīm not a huge fan of the cold and harsh sound of the guitars or the sound of the drums. So upon conclusion "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" is a bit up an down in quality (and listening enjoyment) and itīs not the most stylistically consistent release either. Itīs through and through the bold sound of Peter Hammill though (and praise must always be given for the manīs unending creativity and uniqueness) and while the album may not be perfect in all departments a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.

 Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.03 | 424 ratings

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Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Hewitt

4 stars Officially this was Hammill's second solo album (his first, Fools Mate, having been released in 1971 shortly before the final first wave Van Der Graaf Generator album Pawn Hearts) but some have argued that it's actually his third, as the first VDGG album was recorded as a solo effort and finally issued as a group album simply due to the machinations of the music biz (and, bizarrely, in the United States only where the group had precisely no fans at the time. Count them Zero!). The man himself, however, in his sleeve notes to the 2006 remastered CD, states that Chameleon was his 'first proper solo album'.

Confused?

Well, what can be said without fear of contradiction is that Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night was Hammill's first release following the break up of VDGG in mid 1972. Having broken up the band who did he ask to play on his solo record? His three old pals from Van Der Graaf, of course, plus part time Van man Nic Potter, so from a certain perspective, Chameleon is a fully fledged VDGG reunion!

For an artist setting out on a solo career this album casts many a backward glance thematically and his former band casts a large 'shadow' across proceedings. There is at least one song written for VDGG and played live in the final phase of the band - (In the) Black Room/The Tower - and there are songs about the band and a sequel to a Van Der Graaf song. A parallel might be drawn with the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. Both records see the artist looking back at his former band and trying to find a way forward. Interestingly, for a man so often accused of being a solipsistic misery guts, Hammill's record is the less self pitying, more outward looking and ultimately more optimistic of the two.

The songs divide into piano led, acoustic guitar led and full ensemble. The opener, German Overalls, concerns an episode when VDGG ran out of money while on tour. It's a sort of diary entry, or snapshot from the touring photo album, driven by thrashy acoustic guitar with a dash of Harmonium and some surreal sound effects. The pianistic psychodrama In The End manages to be about mortality and the end of the band simultaneously.

In fact, themes of break up run throughout the album. The gentle acoustic guitar ballad Slender Threads is a meditation on a former lover and the immensely affecting Easy to Slip Away is a sequel to the VDGG anthem Refugees. That song was about a group of friends in the late 1960s, in flight from the values of mainstream society, but bonded and made optimistic by their friendship. But now the friends have drifted apart and the only sliver of hope is that perhaps one day they will be reunited. The elegiac piano mood is enhanced by mellotron and plaintive saxophone. What's it Worth and Dropping the Torch (the latter solo acoustic guitar and the former acoustic guitar elevated by a 'mellifluteous' Jackson) are reflections on choice and responsibility.

Rock and Role is a full band effort, with PH on electric guitar for the first time in his recording career, and one of the highlights of the record. It sound less like Van Der Graaf and more like a weird jump cut to the warped beat music Hammill would be purveying in the early 80s with the K Group. The grand finale, (In the) Black Room/The Tower, is pure VDGG - epic, barnstorming, packed with incredibly exciting ensemble playing and dynamic contrasts, overflowing with emotional and psychological intensity and finally cathartic, with Hammill ending the record exclaiming ecstatically that he's 'feeling like a kid again'. He's spent the entire album trying to make sense of past experience and now he's ready to move on.

In an early interview Hammill was quoted as saying that his ambition was to become 'the Hendrix of the voice'. Quite an ambition but he certainly made a very creditable stab at it. He introduced an entirely new set of tricks and tropes to the rock vocal repertoire and is on fine, if somewhat thinly recorded form, on this platter: soaring high angelically, growling low menacingly, whispering intimately, screaming frenziedly - and very often all within the same song. Hammill turns the act of singing into a theatrical event. He doesn't so much sing these songs as become them. At this stage of his career he was, if not a non musician exactly, then certainly a primitive, and the songs are essentially created by and around his voice. For all the accomplishment of his collaborators the star instrument on this album is Peter Hammill.

Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night was the start of an intensive recording period for Hammill - four groundbreaking albums in less than two years. These records established many diverse threads, both lyrically and musically, which he has spent the last half century extrapolating. It was also important for a very specific reason as it marked the start of his home recording which was eventually to ensure the continuation of his career as a recording artist. The basic tracks were recorded on a TEAC four track tape machine Hammill had purchased and then worked on at Rockfield and Trident Studios. As Hammill notes the guitar sound throughout the album is somewhat scratchy and the whole production a tad eccentric (well he was on a learning curve, and anyway, technical perfection has never really been his raison d'ętre).

The 2006 CD remaster includes solo live versions of Easy to Slip Away and In the End recorded in Kansas City in 1978 (taken from the bootleg album Skeleton of Songs) featuring a fully unfettered Hammill, and also a recording of a very early Hammill song, Rain 3am, made around the time of Chameleon.

So, an intensely personal album expressing the concerns of a young man (he was a mere 24) at a crossroads in his life. But, as with all of Hammill's best work, the intensely personal is transmuted into the universal. Whether you catalogue it as his second album, third or whatever number you prefer, Mr H is undoubtedly right - the real Peter Hammill solo story starts here.

 Nadir's Big Chance by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.79 | 325 ratings

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Nadir's Big Chance
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Hewitt

5 stars Hammill lets his hair down and rocks out in the mid seventies in the guise of anarchistic eternal sixteen year old punk rocker Rikki Nadir, and somewhere out there in the murk, young Master Rotten hears the siren song.

Nadir's Big Chance is a snarling put down of the cynical machinations of the music biz and the prevailing blandness of the rock scene of the time, a raucous exercise in elemental three chord trickery and, above all, an impassioned celebration of the essential simplicity and joyous swagger of pop music. Beefy punk songs, weepy ballads and soul struts. It's a classic.

So come on everybody - smash the system with a song!

 Crying Wolf by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
2.44 | 6 ratings

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Crying Wolf
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Both songs on this single were taken from Peter Hammill's album Over (1977) in which the artist pours out his anguish and heartache raised by the ending of a long relationship. The fairly well produced album has never been among my PH favourites, although it has some fine songs. Alas, I'm not referring to these two songs.

'Crying Wolf' is a straight-forward rocker featuring the VdGG rhythm section of Nic Potter and Guy Evans. Undoubtedly the song is soaking with soar emotions from Hammill himself, but as a listener I'm left pretty cold. There's not much of musical substance, and definitely no prog flavours in sight.

I don't know if the B sider is an abridged version as it could be, since 'This Side of the Looking Glass' is nearly seven minutes on the album. The tender and passionate vocals are backed up by an orchestra, arranged and conducted by Michael Brand. I appreciate it as an exceptional Hammill performance (he hasn't recorded orchestral arrangements too often), but maybe it's a bit too syrupy, and the melodies could really be more memorable.

2― stars rounded down.

 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 968 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Artik

5 stars One of those rare solo albums which hold the ground with the best efforts of the actual bands of origin. VDGG aura is heavily present, not only due to the unmistakable Hammill's voice and his usual theatrical interpretations, but also his band mebers who gathered here to help their mate. So we have basically all VDGG members present and the songwriting is as strong as on the best band's releases. High points are many: "The lie", Forsaken Gardens","Red shift" and brilliant closer 12 minutes epic "A louse is not a home". The rest is very good too. There is so much to love here for a Van der Graaf fan.
 My Experience by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
1.50 | 7 ratings

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My Experience
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

1 stars -- First review for this single -- Peter Hammill and especially his classic prog band Van der Graaf Generator are among my long-time favourites, but I certainly don't like everything he's done, quite far from it in fact. The majority of the early 80's output is a good example of that. Sitting Targets (1981) does contain some pretty good songs, but the songs in this single -- both taken from the album -- are in my opinion nearly awful to listen to.

'My Experience' is a noisy and punkish song, and it reminds me of Talking Heads but with a harder edge. Not a song I'd wish to re-listen after hearing it once.

'What I Did' is even worse! Noisier and more aggressive. The soundscape is hostile, industrial and cold -- and terribly monotonous. Especially the percussion is like banging one's head against a wall. Good grief. In theory I appreciate the way Peter Hammill was at the time positive towards the punk & new wave movements and let them influence in his own expression, but this is a firm No Thank You for me.

 The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.31 | 968 ratings

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The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Auslander

5 stars This is my first review and I decided that I would review an album that I found via this website. I was passingly familiar with VDGG but had not heard any of Peter Hammill's solo work. This album came to my attention through its high ranking in the Best Prog Albums of all time chart on this site. When reading other reviews I was mildly apprehensive about buying it, but chose to anyway on a whim. I feel some of the reviews do not do this album justice. They speak of edgy sounds and overwrought vocals but seemingly falter when describing the real accessibility of the melodies and singing. When I hear the vocals it sound like Bowie doing a Peter Gabriel impersonation. Lyrically, there is depth but it does remind me of the song structures of early Genesis, so even though it can seem apocalyptic in tone, there is always that element of song craft. Indeed, I even find myself humming the tune of "Modern" quite often. It is unusual to discover an album without a weak track. Even the bonus live tracks are of good quality, innovative saxophone work is another high point on many songs. The deceptively simple guitar playing is of great quality. Sometimes it isn't the amount of notes you play, but the notes in between that carry a song. Hammill seems to be inherently aware of this fact. Yes, it is complex. Yes, it is prog. But, in my ears, this is accessible. This is music that can transcend fashion and fads. It is timeless and a new essential in my collection of favourites. 5 stars.
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