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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 14 2010 at 10:00
Over, Peter Hammill, 1977

StarStarStarStarStar

It's quite hard to write about Over in a positive way... which is odd because I love this album. Commenting on the musical variety, technical qualities and details of the album seems demeaning to its raw emotionality and vice versa. It's Hammill's most personal album, which some will probably find either difficult or distasteful, and for me, it's his most powerful. Over is about sustained moods more than bursts of fire, and while reviewers here have picked up a lot on the darker and more miserable side of the album, I personally think its appeal lies also in its hopeful, ironic, self-deprecating, speculative and resigned content and if you acknowledge the one element without the other, the overall effect will probably be quite depressing.

The vocals are, of course, extraordinary and innovative. Aside from some of Hammill's best lower-register work and higher-register work, this contains his most obviously powerful conventional performance. I have never heard anything like the singing on any of the songs here before and the detail, emotion and harmonies in each performance are without parallel. The production of the vocals matches up to this. The music is individual to the pieces and remains excellent but, in isolation from the vocals and lyrics would be somewhat pointless.

Crying Wolf ? from the first notes you can feel the fragility of the album. Some of the many particular musical features of this song are the dense layering, Guy Evans' delicious hi-hat (I think) work near the opening, the various awesome low-in-the-mix keyboards and the vocal development of the main riff. Hammill's guitar solo as usual is strictly devoted to the mood and not to impressing people.

Autumn: the versatility of this album is not solely in the personnel and style but also in the kind of perspective offered. The speculative mood of Autumn enhances a simply exceptional self-duet from Hammill (the vocals sound so old).

'I simply don't know what it all means... this pointless passage through the night, this Autumn time, this walk upon the water.'

Time Heals is the most immediately eye-catching thing on the album and there are a couple of extraordinary live versions out there as well so I'll try not to over-introduce it. Guy Evans and Nic Potter's rhythm section is unshowy and supportive and yet entirely unique to this album.

Alice (Letting Go)... the album's most stripped down singer-songwriter piece. Deliciously bitter and well-produced acoustic sound (which is something, I confess, that the very charming In Camera's pieces didn't have), extraordinarily heart-rending and detailed vocal contrasted with almost spoken bursts. The jolts of directness in the writing are something that makes this album and in particular this song so unique and honest, 'cause I don't wanna just be your friend.'

This Side Of The Looking Glass... if you have ever doubted Peter Hammill's ability to sing extraordinarily well in a conventional manner, you should listen to this song and repent your sins. The orchestration is rich and individual and a unique excursion by Hammill into territory unknown for a striking centrepiece to an individual album.

Betrayed has a much more ferocious and snarling Graham Smith as well as some utterly acidic acoustic guitar. An especially angry, desperate and despondent piece but so well executed as to be of interest to anyone who doesn't find that notion unbearable. The conclusion is wonderful.

(On Tuesdays She Used To Do) Yoga features the single most evil sound I can think of (and I have no idea what it is but you'll know it when you hear it). The echoed vocals are heart-breaking and the writing has both menacing edges and ironic ones to its basic honesty.

Lost And Found is the album's catharsis, and its fragile yet definite optimism is entirely crucial to understanding the album. It is amazing.

Well, I'm sure I've said this about three or four Peter Hammill albums by now (In Camera, ) and I'll probably say it about a couple more, but the thing about those many times I say that the vocals on a particular Peter Hammill album are in my honest view the best ever is that A) trust me: I mean it and B) I feel that the vocals on Over are so amazing for different reasons to those on Hammill album y or z. Hammill's ability as a singer to emote and to communicate emotions in different ways is now so self-evident to me that I can neither really recall the bemusement with which I first heard the quirky vocals of Sleepwalkers nor can I really fathom those who as a rule find his vocals unpleasant either in general or especially on this album.

So, five stars. Though Over is probably only going to be a life-changing album for those who are already self-avowed fans, it remains one of the site's most extraordinary albums and should come early in the Hammill collection expansion process.

Rating: 15/15, or thereabouts Favourite Track: Lost And Found, I think

---

Yeah, just going to go and edit up the Passion Play review
Next up, no idea I'll go for.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 14 2010 at 10:22
Originally posted by Ronnie Pilgrim Ronnie Pilgrim wrote:

Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

 
Any way you cut it, it's a great album Thumbs Up - if I've time I'll try to edit it up a little tomorrow.

Yeah, not getting paid for these reviews is a bitch, and then to put up with the likes of me....
You actually got a lot more right than you did wrong, and my hat's off to you for all the work.

Because there's another error, and since you offered, here's a rundown of who does the vocalizations on the album:

John Evans
"And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the boney shoulders of a young horse named George, who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."
and
"This is the story of the hare who lost his spectacles." (Spoken line, not the narrative)

Jeffrey Hammond
"The examining body examined her body."
and
The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles the narrative
and
"Steve. Caroline." Shouted at the end of the album during the fadeout

Ian Anderson
All other mouth sounds; whistles, grunts and words sung or spoken

Thanks for your professional courtesy.


Cheers - clarified that mistake (I.e. I meant to say the vocals on the album, not on the story section) and hopefully fixed up the remaining obvious errors... didn't want to change the review too much.

Here's the link for the new version Linked


Edited by TGM: Orb - July 14 2010 at 10:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 13 2015 at 06:41
New review (also how is this on page three approximately five years after my last post) - warning, may offend accountants or economists:

Kraftwerk - Autobahn

If what you want is a mishmash of the synth and sonic innovations accomplished a couple of years earlier by Pink Floyd, ELP, Amon Duul II, Roger Powell and Hawkwind delivered with the dead-behind-the-eyes glaze of an accountant or economist, this is the album for you. Most of the good parts feel like quotations of On The Run or Echoes or bits of Gong's Angel's Egg.

The titular pop-synth epic has the ambience of a terrible crash between two lorries full of skittles. The first part of Cometenmelodie just has nothing happening and the lack of a bottom end really leaves you feeling ungrounded for the glaring synths. I'm not going to spend fifty words review savaging the lackluster electronic drums or the floppy novelty vocals that no doubt gave it its hit status. I hate them. That is my whole opinion on the matter. In terms of the composition I can't hear much going on. Call it 'minimalist' if you like but I just can't hear anything I don't feel like I've heard before. The sonic effects on Mitternacht you can hear done with far more panache in Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast or Echoes and the brief padded chords are as bog standard as you get, leading to a conclusion where nothing happens, which seems to be the motif of this review.

The much lauded sonic innovations here were done earlier and better by artists working in a panoply of genres and there were tempered by ambition and ideas. The only redeeming piece is the closing Morganspazierung which reminds me of the psychedelic music that used to get attached to British children's TV in better days. Even that is kind of spared for its lack of ideas on account of a very short running length.

Rating: 2/15. Go to the source where the water's fresher.
Favourite Track: Morganspazierung
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2015 at 05:53
The where I stand now post

manually changing all the scores is just going to cause loads of confusion with the reviews and I probably don't have time to rewrite them all, so I'm doing a post to kind of state where I am with a lot of the stuff I reviewed five+ years ago for anyone interested. New standard

5 stars - something really special and usually something that's changed how I think about music. You should probably listen to it once even if you don't end up liking it. I really like some out-there stuff though.
4 stars - something exceptional. I think any attentive listener should get something out of it, even if it's not their cup of tea.
3 stars - this album will improve your collection. Usually for best-efforts by bands that weren't really doing something new or brave attempts by bands that were and it didn't really come off.
2 stars - this album might improve your collection
1 star - this album won't improve your collection. Varies between uninspired and terrible.

Let's start with the classics

Genesis

From Genesis To Revelation. 1 star. Pleasant enough; the best material is the bonus tracks. A curio for fans of the band.
Trespass. 3 stars. Curious English pastoral rock that laid the groundwork for where Genesis would go.
Nursery Cryme. 5 stars. A lot of the really innovative stuff is in the little tracks.
Foxtrot. 3 stars. Supper's Ready is glorious and there's a lot of good stuff but the studio version of Watcher Of The Skies and Time Table make for a really weak start to the album.
Selling England By The Pound. 5 stars. The definitive Genesis album where the whole band is working together on something of a classical caliber.
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. 3 stars. A great double-album. The ambition occasionally led to fillery stuff for the stage show, which isn't inherently bad but lacks the tightness of its predecessor.
A Trick Of The Tail. 2 stars. I don't like the mix and don't return to this one much. Light on the song front.
Wind & Wuthering. 2 stars. Not bad per se and a lot of Hackett's finest moments. Your Own Special Way is a real comedown.
Genesis (s/t). 2 stars. Some really superb songs on this. Not worse or better than the post-Gabriel Hackett material.

Yes

The Yes Album. 2 stars. Wakeman really brought the band's whole atmosphere and without it you've got a lot of good material but no real stunning moments. Howe's instrumental is essential.
Fragile. 3 stars. Very patchy but the classics are real classics. South Side of the Sky probably the best thing Yes ever did.
Close To The Edge. 5 Stars. 
Tales From Topographic Oceans. 4 stars. Takes a bit of a different mindset to earlier Yes albums but very rewarding.
Relayer. 3 stars. My opinion of the album's gone up over time. Don't rate the lyrics or vocals that much but Moraz's contributions are stunning.
Going For The One. 2 stars. A good album but there's not much I really really love on it.
Tormato. 1 star. Execrable.
90125. 2 stars. Some gems on this one.

VDGG

The Aerosol Grey Machine. 1 star. Not actually a bad album but I can't see anyone other than a real fan of the band needing it.
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other. 2 stars. Some spine-tingling moments, a bit of laboriousness. Refugees is one of VDGG's best soft songs.
H To He Who Am The Only One. 5 stars. The start of VDGG's roll. It's probably not as tight as the following few albums but emotional highs throughout.
Pawn Hearts. 5 stars. Together with the previous album it set the pace for a lot of RPI. Hammill's vocal on A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers is incredible.
Godbluff. 4 stars. One of the great rock albums of all time and Hammill's transition to the clavinet is really graceful. Arrow is one of my favourite VDGG tracks. I feel like Scorched Earth brings it down a tad.
Still Life. 5 stars. Far and away the most subtle VDGG album. Beautiful stuff and the quality of the musicianship, the recording and the writing is leagues ahead of what any of the big prog bands were even attempting at the time.
World Record. 3 Stars. Great little album, often underestimated. Hugh Banton's engineering skills pay off with a real church organ sound. It feels quite closely related to Hammill's solo work, though oddly he didn't seem to really pick up a lot of the songs for the live bootlegs I know from the next few years.
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome. 4 stars. Hammill's radical change to his vocal approach and the different instrumentation make this album an oddity in the VDG(G) business. Nonetheless many of the songs are fantastic and it's a very bold piece of work.
Present. 3 stars. Really, really unfortunate circumstances have kind of hammered the recording but it's a very enjoyable and odd live album.
Godbluff Live. 5 stars. See one of the finest prog rock bands at their absolute best. The APOLK recording here is amazing.
Present. 2 stars. Hits the VDGG standard and Boleas Panic is a really wonderful Jackson showcase. I'm not sure it brings a load of 'classics' to the table other than Nutter Alert but it's a good album for a VDGG fan.
Trisector. 2 stars. Some great stuff but kind of reliant on a VDGG formula to hit its highlights.
A Grounding In Numbers. 3 stars. Great album. I've never really gotten into the maths concept but Medusa is gorgeous and the three-man lineup manages to hit emotional peaks without any reliance on the formulae left over from the Jackson era. The best work from Banton since Still Life imho.

Peter Hammill

Fool's Mate. 2 stars. Charming little album. Definitely a fan choice rather than a necessity but Fripp and Banton's contributions on guitar and piano and the basic quality of the songs elevates it.
Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night. 4 stars. Despite the slightly patchy recording quality this is one of the great singer-songwriter albums.
In Camera. 4 stars. A lot of astonishing work, I probably don't return to it as much as Chameleon or Silent Corner with their consistent bite but it's just as good objectively.
The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage. 5 stars. Listen to Modern until you understand why it's *not* a VDGG song and all the secrets of Hammill's solo career will be revealed to you. The Lie is one of his best songs and I think the amazing Skeletons of Songs version is a bonus track here.
Nadir's Big Chance. 3 stars. Basically a pop rock album but the songs are all great and the approach was famously influential on British punk.
The Future Now. 3 stars. The experimental stuff is really out there and really astounding. Other bits are a little more lightweight.
pH7. 3 stars. Same as the above, really. Hammill still going off on his own thing and the results are fantastic.
A Black Box. 3 stars. Flight is probably the closest to a VDGG epic he's done on the solo side since In Camera. Really admirable and inspiring how he's just taken over every aspect of doing his own work.
Sitting Targets. 2 stars. It's a good album but I feel the songs are a lot stronger than the performances on here. Ophelia's probably my favourite of his three chord tricks.
Enter K. 3 stars. A lot of great songs, especially The Unconscious Life. The sound isn't quite as unified as Patience.
Loops And Reels. 5 stars. Best analog electronic album ever made in my view.
Patience. 4 stars. Best of the K Group albums by a mile.
The Margin +. 4 Stars. A live summary of a lot of the best pieces from the K Group era, and + contains some really surprising renditions of early solo pieces. Wonderful work.
Skin. 4 stars. A lot of it's maybe not going to hit the taste tonsils of the prog rock fan but I think the songy parts are wonderful and Now Lover and Four Pails are fantastic experimental pieces.
And Close As This. 3 stars. A real oddity. The midi triggering stuff works to mixed effect but the pure piano stuff is incredible. Sleep Now is a standout example of the sincere tenderness people who only know VDGG might not have seen in Hammill.
... I've not heard the next few...
The Fall Of The House Of Usher (re-release). 5 stars. Atmospheric, tense, genuine rock opera business and the vocals and the sound are just beyond belief. A real standout.
Fireships. 3 stars. Very strange one. The aesthetic might put a lot of people off the content, a lot of which is exceptional. I Will Find You is a bit of a chink in the album's armour.
The Noise. 2 stars. The 'loud' rock counterpart to Fireships hasn't fared nearly as well in my estimation. Primo On The Parapet is an *amazing* song but you can hear a better version with Stuart Gordon on Veracious.
Roaring Forties. 2 stars. A slightly precious quality to the lyrics of the rock material here brings it down a little. Better than its predecessor but still just one for the fans imo.
X My Heart. 3 stars. A return to form with Amnesiac as one of my all-time favourites of his. The two parts of A Better Time see Hammill still trying something new and unusual even if it's not the spiky time signature stuff people associate with innovation.
Everyone You Hold + This. I need to listen to these two more. Fine albums.
I don't know None Of The Above, Clutch and What, Now?
Incoherence. 4 Stars. Jackson's presence adds a huge amount to this and the general density and power of the concept make for a definite peak. Probably the most coherent whole album he's done since Usher.
Singularity. 2 stars. I really love the experimental stuff on this and the album's last two tracks are his best. Some of the ballads and rock bits are less strong.
Thin Air. 3 stars. The highs are a bit lower than Singularity's but it's a much more consistent piece and I really like the song bits.

I haven't heard the latest two yet and need to rectify that.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2015 at 06:30
Where I stand now pt. 2:

Tull, Floyd, Rush

Jethro Tull

Stand up - 3 stars. A really great little blues rock album.
Benefit - 3 stars. Probably better than Stand Up. The mix is wonderful and the songs are all kinda little highlights. I'd give it a higher rating if I listened to it more but I don't.
Aqualung - 4 stars. One of those rare rock albums that kinda makes it to the next echelon. The acoustic pieces are some of Anderson's best, the rock stuff is great.
Thick As A Brick - 5 stars. My favourite Tull album and the one you should definitely have. Wonderful band and that flatpicking intro feels like such a statement of Anderson's personality. 
A Passion Play - 5 stars. Everything happening all the time. Can be wearing at first but really rewarding stuff.
War Child - 2 stars. Bit of a climbdown in overall quality but there are some really nice songs on here.
Songs From The Wood - 2 stars. Bizarrely lauded for folk credentials when it's kinda just woodsy. Hunting Girl is the highlight.
Heavy Horses - 2 stars. A much better and more genuine album than Songs From The Wood but I have trouble thinking of it as essential.
The Broadsword And The Beast - 2 stars. Like Warchild, kinda patchy in overall quality but the highs are pretty high.

Pink Floyd

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn - I know I need to give this one more listens. Barrett was a really unique asset and I'm still not sure what I make of him.
A Saucerful of Secrets - 4 stars. Weird and wonderful. Jugband Blues, the title track and Let There Be More Light are highlights.
Meddle - 4 stars. The highs are probably Floyd's best work but it's not entirely consistent.
Obscured By Clouds - 2 stars. A very nice little album but not a lot mind-bending going on. Worth having if you're a fan.
Dark Side Of The Moon - 5 stars. This and Wish You Were Here are basically perfect albums. No collection is complete without them.
Wish You Were Here - 5 stars. Bonus points for Roy Harper's (probably the best English singer-songwriter of his generation) vocal on Have A Cigar.
Animals - 3 stars. Some great material, a tiny bit of waffle, great lyrics. Pigs is the standout for me.
The Wall - 2 stars. A few great songs does not a great album make. The teen angst is strong with this one, the central image is amazing and some people do really get into the whole thing but the ending is just dismal and I think it's a bit overblown for what it is.

Rush

Caress of Steel - 3 stars. I'd love to give it four but I kind of have to accept that it's basically just that I really like that Rush are still trying things they can't pull off here. I really love this album.
2112 - 2 stars. The first half is tinged with an emotional honesty that really gives it colour. Not so keen on the little songs on the second half. Good album.
A Farewell To Kings - 4 stars. Rush's best, I think, at least in terms of having the stuff I like on it.
Hemispheres - 1 star. Weedy and pretentious, especially the follow up Cygnus X-2. La Villa Strangiato is a redeeming piece.
Moving Pictures - 2 stars. I don't really rate this one tremendously highly. It's creative and a lot of it is decent but the songs don't stand out to me.
Permanent Waves - 3 stars. A decidedly good album. Probably where you want to go for prog rock that doesn't feel very rooted in English tradition.
Grace Under Pressure - 2 stars. Quite a nice little album in its own way but not the most memorable thing the trio's ever done.
Snakes And Arrows - 2 stars. Starts out great then kinda loses it. A good rock album and the first few tracks are especially good.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2015 at 12:24
Where I stand now 3: continuing for my own amusement. ELP, Camel, Peter Gabriel, Caravan

Emerson, Lake And Palmer

ELP (s/t). 5 Stars. If you're only going to like one Emerson, Lake & Palmer album it'll be this one or nothing. Great record, standout stuff all around.
Tarkus. 3 Stars. Fantastic title track, second half isn't bad but doesn't entirely live up to it. Nod for most tactless line in rock music.
Trilogy. 3 Stars. The conventional wisdom of highs aren't as high lows aren't as low holds up on this. Good album.
Pictures At An Exhibition. 3 Stars. Soft spot for Lake's 'The Sage' and the album generally holds up well.
Brain Salad Surgery. 4 Stars. Blistering musicianship and a lot to commend it. Great album.
Works vol 1. 3 Stars. Palmer's side is brilliant, Emerson's side is very good, band and Lake sides both perfectly decent in general.
Works vol 2. 2 Stars. A little lighter on great material than vol. 1 but hardly bad.
Love Beach. 2 Stars. Some really good work from Palmer redeems this one a little and there are bits and pieces of good work. Even the terrible stuff is generally so accidentally funny it gets away with it.
ELPowell. 1 Star. I can't even remember anything on this.
Black Moon. 1 Star. Not terrible but not really necessary for anyone except an ELP collector.

Camel

Camel (s/t). 2 Stars. Pleasant enough. Mystic Queen is a highlight. Not loads going on.
Mirage. 3 Stars. A very fine album.
The Snow Goose. 3 or 4 stars. I don't know. Can't really listen to it these days for reasons unrelated to the album itself.
Moonmadness. 1 Star. A pretty do-nothing album with a great little opener. I don't rate it much.
Rain Songs. 2 Stars. Sinclair's presence makes for a pretty nice little album but he's kind of underused.

Peter Gabriel

1. 2 Stars. Good stuff is kind of undermined by the instrumentation. A very good version of Here Comes The Flood is on Fripp's Exposure album.
2. 2 Stars. Admirable intent but sounds like it was recorded in a sock. Suspect the Frippmeister may be partly to blame.
3. 4 Stars. Fantastic innovative album full of complete gems, unfortunately lumbered with Biko.
4. 4 Stars. Fantastic innovative album full of complete gems with bonus Peter Hammill vox, unfortunately lumbered with Big Woman and whatever that prison sympathy ballad is (seeing a pattern?)
So. 4 Stars. Very fine album all around. That opening to Sledgehammer is more prog than us ignorami on this forum deserve.
Us. 5 Stars. Jesus Christ this one is depressing. Bloody brilliant though.
Up. 3 Stars. Many very good things on this one. A few patchier bits. The first two songs are really amazing.

Caravan

IICDIAOAIDIAOY. 3 Stars. Acronym clusterfubble. The mix is a bit daft and unfocused but the music is glorious.
ITLOGAP. 3 Stars. Acronym improving. A really sweet psychedelic record. Not doing much that's hyper-super-new but the execution is immaculate.
FGWGPITN. 4 Stars. Acronym deproving. John G. Perry's bass-work is wonderful and the addition of the strings makes a huge difference to the band. Probably my favourite from the band.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 15 2015 at 15:45
great to see the blog getting cranked up again!! Clap

Sinclair 'kind of unused'?  Hah...that sort of understates it. That was a crime against music that should have been a slam dunk conviction in The Hague and should have sent Camel albums flying from car windows everywhere...

bah...

[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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