Tuesday, 20 January 2015

peter hamill and all that might have been

Ever since his first solo LP's back in the early 70's Peter Hamill albums have always thrown down the guantlet to the listener. He makes no compromise to popular trends in rock or easy toe tapping sing-a-long. Peter Hamill demands your attention or you just pass by without a clue and a bitter taste in the mouth. Ever since the first albums with Van Der Graaf Generator Hammill told stories that on first listening were utterly baffling yet compelling. By the time you'd heard them a few times you sort of new what he was saying but still couldn't explain it clearly. But the story felt important just the same. None of these have lost their impact as the years have passed.
And so it's gone on through the decades. Peter Hammill never fails to mystify yet thrill the listener. There is absolutely no one like him in rock music and probably never will be again. His tales are too personal to ever be copied, covering a Peter Hammill song is virtually a no go because nothing can be added to them and it's as sure as eggs you aint gonna improve them. Yet his influence on other name musicians has been unexpected and influential. Bowie to name one, John Lydon to name another. But once you hear they've name checked Hammill it sort of makes sense.

And so in November a new set of Hammill's solo recordings were added to that ever demanding body of work. No fuss. No fanfare. A Hammill album seems to just materialise from nowhere. And this is as ambitious a project as he's done. It's a single album which also comes as 3CD boxset with 14 full length songs and an instrumental CD. The group is guitar, keyboards and drum machine and Hammill plays the lot. The unmistakeable vocals are all over the place, double tracking his lead vocal, multi tracking the backing ones, the prog rock vocal no one else has dared to sing. It's difficult and demanding and about as dynamic piece of contemporary rock as can be heard today.
Here is the thrilling drama he calls "Inklings, darling" from the album '…all that might have been'. Give it a few listens and you'll understand what it's all about. Maybe.

P.S. The video has been put in place by uploader PolSet2 who likes to put his name over everything but we'll forgive him that as he's got more Peter Hammill and some Van Der Graaf on his channel.