Van der Graaf Generator / Peter Hammill S& D, C or D?

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I never really got into them, they were too prog-rock for my taste I guess. But still there is something about Hammill, his voice and lyrics I think.

The only VDGG album I own is Vital Live, which has its moments but I find there is something goth, megalomaniac and bombastic (the orchestral sound with the violin, sax and keyboards maybe) in there I don't like and can only take in small quantities.

The only Hammill solo I have is In a Foreign Town which I rather liked if my memory serves me well.

Which are the albums to keep/purchase?

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Monday, 7 October 2002 09:55 (nineteen years ago) link

i bought the 4cd box set -- in the booklet hammill and co. go on about how good everything sounded when they went about re-mastering the tracks that were included -- so you get "a plague of lighthouse keepers" but not "man-erg" or "lemmings" (ok interesting but ancillary live version of "lemmings" -- well you still can't hear the words or the organ or the sax very well however well the live version might have been re-handled)

you get half'n'half re-mastered or live versions of the supposedly crucial tracks so you get all but the best song off "H.." as bbc alternative takes, 4 of the 5 songs of imo least interesting "world record" as studio re-masters, most of "still life" half live and half studio, almost half live of "godbluff" and too little or nothing of early and late albums

the re-mastered studio versions do sound very good if you want to hear all the home-made fuzz/wah/boo noises added to the super-customised organ or the 2 saxes played through effects pedals operated via elbow as fashionable '70s mo-width belt -- the lyrics are crisp too -- re-mastering seems to have given the tracks back their crucial resonant pulse-wave-modulation bass, the heavy malevolence that the cd re-issues i'd sampled lacked and that everyone admitted vinyl couldn't do justice to in the first place with a track like the 22 minute "..lighthouse keepers"

so buying the admittedly handy vaguely career spanning box-set is a catch-22 since individual cd re-issues do not contain the re-mastered versions.. yet ? when ?

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 10:35 (nineteen years ago) link

george, I can see how their recordings could benefit from re-mastering.

I consider VDGG seriously flawed (mostly by bombast), but at one time I was pretty crazy about them. The only thing I have much interest in hearing occasionally is "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers," which I think has some really gorgeous moments.

Solo Peter Hammill has held up even worse for me. I think the beginning of "Black Box" is beautiful, but then he has to go and express all the conflicts and complexities of modern life, through lots of changes of direction, and the whole thing is ruined. (In fact, it sometimes sounds as though he wants to make a mini-epic like "A Plague. . ." every time he records a song.)

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 7 October 2002 11:23 (nineteen years ago) link

yes that is the problem -- songs like ".. lighthouse keepers" have great sections in them -- i really love the first third of it, but some of the other sections could be skipped -- a glaring opportunity for the use of cd sub-indexing missed, as the piece was chopped up quite formally into sections a,b,.. anyway so that some songwriting credit could go to the band (if for no other reason, says the booklet)

the organ sounds as though you're inside it, ie it doesn't sound in the least bit tinny or dinky, as the old cds and lps sometimes do -- songs like "arrow" have their own special devices and appeal and again benefit from the re-buff, sounding menacing and harsh despite the "jazz-rock" first impressions

why include three gloom ballads from hammill (from "H ..") at the expense of "the general and his war room" when that song with secret guest fripp would have rocked best given the same treatment ? (ok, the mandatory hit studio track "killer" does sound a bit droney and dated but it's still fun and the re-mix gives it real wollop)

if you listened to old versions of this bands music they sound silly/heavy, cf: the sparce array of remixes on the box,
which whilst maybe wacky, gloomy, dated, eccentric, hammillesque etc.. all sound heavy in a way that maybe explains why the band was such a hit live (big in italy), heavy as a result of "mad scientist" hugh banton evolving four increasingly powerful versions of his organ over six years, each with numerous wah, growl, fuzz, sub-oscillate etc. capacities, some of the time whilst starring as engineer for the organ manufacturer itself

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 12:08 (nineteen years ago) link

duh, him, he, hugh banton worked for the organ manufacturer himself, during the bands 72'-'76 hiatus

it amuses me somehow that johnny rotten would claim any positive influence on his vocal style from anyone, let alone that he claimed hammill, a semi-retired prog rock band's head meglomaniac -- if the sex pistols et. al. hadn't come along, maybe we'd look back on prog rock quite differently

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 12:17 (nineteen years ago) link

"Killer" is the sort of song that leaves me frustrated and ambivalent. There is something really good there, but in its case, it is all wrapped up with something else that I find a turn-off. I am left with a feeling of "This has a lot of potential." But it's a little late for it too just have potential. (In the case of that song there is also the near-nostalgia factor of its reminding me of when I used to listen to it a lot in high school and college.)

I do like those organ sounds. It seems that more could be done with those particular prog. textures, but then I'm sure there are other things which work with similar sounds but which I just haven't heard.

I would really like to like this music, since it does offer some distinctive sounds, but mostly it doesn't work together as a whole for me.

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 7 October 2002 13:11 (nineteen years ago) link

I've just gotten the box via mp3 and might give it a listen at work tomorrow. Unfortunately the box doesn't have the one Pete Hammill song I've always wanted to hear the original of -- "Vision." Marc Almond covered it on his second solo album, and it's turned into one of his standards, regularly in his live sets from then to now. His performance is incredibly powerful and heartfelt, and I've torn myself up over the lyrics more than once when thinking about things that might have been (and maybe should have been?). So I've always wanted to hear the original, like I said -- one day.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 7 October 2002 15:34 (nineteen years ago) link

"Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" is awesome.

sundar subramanian, Monday, 7 October 2002 19:38 (nineteen years ago) link

Van Der Graaf Generator are for the most part just about flawless IMO. I mean, you have this band who consist of a singer who thinks he is Roderick Usher, a deranged saxophonist who wants to be Roland Kirk, and who delights in playing 2 saxaphones at once through a fuzzbox, a church organist and one of the best rock drummers ever, WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? I don't think VDGG were flawed by bombast. ELP, perhaps, yes, but not VDGG.
I would say that "H to He Who Am the Only One", "Pawn Hearts", "Godbluff" and "Still Life". The live album "Vital" is, I think, pretty poor - also, it's quite unrepresentative of the band's "classic" lne up as it doesn't have David Jaxon on it, except as a guest on 1 track. The BBC sessions CD, "Maida Vale" is a pretty good intro as well, if U don't want to go for thee expense of the box set. search the first four that I mentioned anyway, and given that you occasionally see "Vital" for, like 2.99 in HMV's sale bin, I can't even complain about that too much. As for Peter Hammill's solo w3rk, I would probably start w/ "Nadir's Big Chance", "In Camera", "The Future Now" and ". You have probably guessed that for me Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf are TH33 FuX!Ng SH!T. To me they inhabit this place that very few musicians even fucking know about let alone reach. Probably only Magazine and Popol Vuh "do it" for me like hammill & vdgg do. So classic. Hammill was rowr in his younger days as well.


if anyone has a spare copy of "The Long Hello volume 1" on zomart CD theyd like to sell me BTW, contact me off list. I have lost my copy, & want another one bad, like.

N0RM4N PH4Y, Monday, 7 October 2002 20:33 (nineteen years ago) link

My favorites are "Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other", "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff". I think the first side of the latter two is probably the best they ever did. I think "H to He" is overrated. "Killer" has a great riff, but pretty silly lyrics.
"Refugees" is my favorite song by them. There's a great single version of it on the Virgin compilation "I Prophecy Disaster".

Solo Hammill? I like "A Black Box" quite a lot, was disappointed by "Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night". Some of his later albums, like "Fireships" and "Out of Water" are okay...

Joe (Joe), Monday, 7 October 2002 21:52 (nineteen years ago) link

vdgg: still life.
ph: a black box, out of water. plus some people think that his "love songs" album is a good place to start. *and* it's got vision on it! ;)

cecilia, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 02:28 (nineteen years ago) link

Thank you! Finally, the info I needed. :-)

Currently listening to that there box set right now. And very good it is too. The keyboardist is agreeably nuts, but I think the sax guy is even more so.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 15:53 (nineteen years ago) link

haha Cecilia - I wuz right!

the one prog/ex-prog band/dude I can't seem to shake, even though I haven't listened to for years
when I did, top LP picks:

Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts, Godbluff, Still Life and The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (which anticipates postpunk)

Peter Hammill - Nadir's Big Chance and The Future Now
(though there's interesting tracks scattered throughout his albums)

lovely record I still do throw on:
The Long Hello - The Long Hello 1973 instrumental 'solo' album featuring most of the band without Hammill
anyone know if Long Hello Vol.2 is any good?

Paul (scifisoul), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 16:16 (nineteen years ago) link

the only song I've really REALLY liked is "Refugees" which is wonderfully pompous and genuinely melancholy.

dog latin, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 18:08 (nineteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Came across this picture of them nowadays (l-r: Hugh Banton, Peter Hammill, David Jackson, Guy Evans):

http://students.washington.edu/joemcg/vdggnow.jpg

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Hmmm...

http://students.washington.edu/joemcg/vgddnow.jpg

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:04 (nineteen years ago) link

Okay, one more try, and if not, sorry I give up:

http://students.washington.edu/joemcg/public_html/vgddnow.jpg

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:05 (nineteen years ago) link

Aargh! Okay, if you still are REALLY that curious, go to:

www.progressiveears.com

click on "Photos" then "Musician's photos" then "Van Der Graaf Generator nowadays"

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:10 (nineteen years ago) link

three months pass...
the more i listen to the VddG songs on albums "H to .." and "Still Life" the more they seem to hold water as overall fragments of one big song each per album, and i now think this may be the bands strength -- that each album emerged from various concentrated sessions, with components spread across the songs, making a given song on it's own less inspiring than the album experiences, even though they're _not_ concept albums as much as seamlesslessly integrated fragments of an overall musical feeling in each case

cf: "Godbluff" and "Pawn Hearts"; more traditionl sets of long prog songs, "World Record" seemingly a collection of lesser musical bits and pieces

anyway i think their musical logic is as compelling in its own way as 2x-youth period sonic youth, or mid-period Roxy Music if rocking out ten minutes per song -- am just investigating Hammill side projects at this stage, and i don't know about "Least we can do ..",
"Vital", "Aeresol .." and "Quite Zone.." yet -- nice that there's still plenty of material to eat through

george gosset (gegoss), Sunday, 9 February 2003 11:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Geez... VDGG 'Afterwards' = best song evah?

I'm having trouble with this right now. I want to love this song so much. Want to proclaim it the greatest forgotten/failed/alternate uni pop great. Anyone else know it? Anyone have the first VDGG?

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Sunday, 9 February 2003 12:44 (eighteen years ago) link

VDGG is the type of band that I really like, but
do not blame anyone in the slightest for hating.
Also, most of their songs (especially in their mid to
later period) could have worked better as
instrumentals - Hammill's lyrics are only occasionally
interesting; his voice is decent but after the first
two albums he rarely bothered to SING - he just
yelled and ranted, like a small, raging version of
David Bowie.

P.S: Another non-comformist opinion: they only really
got good starting with _Godbluff_. Better drumming,
better songs.

Squirrel_Police (Squirrel_Police), Monday, 10 February 2003 02:41 (eighteen years ago) link

I think I like Peter Hammill even when I don't like him, but I saw a video recording of a performance of his in the 90's, and really noticed his tendency to speed up the rhythm of a line and make a growling jump right off the side of the music towards the end for dramatic effect. He did it so often, I could barely let myself hear the songs. I wish he'd reign that sort of thing in a bit, because I think it hurts the songs - just the lyrics could carry tons of what I'm guessing he's getting at when he does that. I don't know.

tom (other), Monday, 10 February 2003 04:30 (eighteen years ago) link

six months pass...
wow, i love this shit! it reminds me of bowie totally (and also dog man star i guess, and roy budd to an extent). house with no door has that sunderland 4.30am vibe, edge of town, the other people place reprised this for lakeshore MI business maybe.

harsh dawns to come

gareth (gareth), Thursday, 14 August 2003 22:19 (eighteen years ago) link

well, it'a august now, and so with a few more months listening i think i'm agreeing with Squirrel_Police that Godbluff is a staggering demonstration of power

'sleepwalkers' is too pompous (yet somehow that suits the ceremonial bullshit of 'gentlemen's' warfare, 'arrow' so catchy that i've maybe made myself sick of it, 'undercover man' intiguing and leaving me wanting more, 'scorched earth' an absolute gem, with its two harmonic threads merging very sneakily leaving me going "how did that happen ? will have to listen to part of it again" -- my favourite VdGG song

this was their 'comeback' album -- why was this not embraced as the smarter improved side one of led zep iv ? -- more intelligently heavy than the truly pretentious competitors 'the who' -- more coherent lyrically than bowie

i suppose the misanthropic snarl of hammill simply put people off, no matter what the lyrics were about or what the band did -- i have to agree with rock-sci that they _are_ heavily flawed -- what a pity -- a rock band with saxaphones and organ and lyrics (and songs, not 'prog' jams) was just what popular music needed, not more guitars

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 14 August 2003 22:47 (eighteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
but where to go from here? i thought audience house on the hill but not sure

gareth (gareth), Saturday, 17 April 2004 17:57 (seventeen years ago) link

Oh this is great great great! I used to have songs I taped off the radio from Hamill 20 years ago that I liked and yet I never got back around to investigating him or VDGG. Thank you for pointing me this way! I would have totally forgotten on my own, I think.

bimble (bimble), Sunday, 18 April 2004 05:48 (seventeen years ago) link

according to this, the albums ARE being remastered by Virgin,so, hopefully, someday.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Sunday, 18 April 2004 16:25 (seventeen years ago) link

Best wishes to Peter Hammill , I'm glad he's recovering well from his coronary.

Colin McPhee, Thursday, 29 April 2004 20:02 (seventeen years ago) link

I recently acquired a bunch more of his solo albums, but still have to work my way through them. His debut, Fools Mate, is quite great. Completely Van Der Graaf Generator in sound and feel, but the songs are much more down to earth. Hammill tones down (at least on the songs I've heard so far) the bombastic/arch-concept/nihilistic-angst of the tride and true VdGG albums (a plus, in my book).

Now, have to give Skin and X My Heart a play...

Joe (Joe), Friday, 30 April 2004 01:06 (seventeen years ago) link

Is this compilation a good introduction? Here is the track listing.


Van Der Graaf Generator: An Introduction
1. Darkness (11/11)
2. Refugees
3. Killer
4. Theme 1
5. Man-Erg
6. Sleepwalkers
7. Still Life
8. When She Comes
9. Sphinx In The Face

earlnash, Friday, 30 April 2004 08:40 (seventeen years ago) link

Fool's Mate seconded, my favourite of the three Hammill solo records I have. Also really like the first VDGG album, Aerosol Grey Machine, which walks the dividing line between psych and prog. Hadn't heard anything about the coronary, hope the bloke's up and at 'em again soon.

NickB (NickB), Friday, 30 April 2004 08:55 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...
Hah, the bloke was fucking VERY up & at 'em!!

I picked up the 1st set of 3 reissues "the least we can do is wave to each other", "H to he who am the only one" & "pawn hearts". Great mastering job, nice packaging/notes. One of the bonus tracks (on "h to he..." is this thing called "squid1/squid2/octopus" good grief it's mighty. deranged mix of fucked up free jazz & demented doomy church organ, heavy and as gothic as fuck!! it's 15m long too...

Pashmina (Pashmina), Saturday, 4 June 2005 11:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Have you heard the new album? I haven't, but really want to. Also, I didn't know about those reissues - extra songs sounds great!

Pangolino 2, Saturday, 4 June 2005 16:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Good to see the classics remastered! I simply can't keep up/save money for all the reissued goodness these days.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Saturday, 4 June 2005 16:52 (sixteen years ago) link

Is that "Octopus" thing related to the track on Aerosol Grey Machine with (I think) the same name?

Jetlag Willy (noodle vague), Sunday, 5 June 2005 09:05 (sixteen years ago) link

so what are the long-lost second album of Pawn Hearts tracks like?

kyle (akmonday), Sunday, 5 June 2005 21:17 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
Those VDGG reissues are $25 each! Anyone find them cheaper?

As far as solo, I have Hammill's Nadir's Big Chance and Over. I could get The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage, and The Future Now for $8 each at alldirect.com, but since those versions came out in 1990, I'm afraid remasters will pop up soon. Anyone got info on that?

A.S. Van Dorston (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Those VDGG reissues are $25 each! Anyone find them cheaper?

As far as solo, I have Hammill's Nadir's Big Chance and Over. I could get The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage, and The Future Now for $8 each at alldirect.com, but since those versions came out in 1990, I'm afraid remasters will pop up soon. Anyone got info on that?

A.S. Van Dorston (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:15 (sixteen years ago) link

i haven't seen them cheaper, no, and so I've only bought Pawn Hearts, but the improvement in sound quality was really worth it. I'll pick up the others as money permits

kyle (akmonday), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Hammill's solo debut, "Fool's Mate" is a very fine record, indeed. Kind of like a pop Roy Harper; and "Child" is a song to truly send shivers down your spine. There's a smattering of music-hall in a few of the songs, as well as a brilliant final number, which is rather cheery, yet turns agonisingly dark, ending on a sustained, droning guitar chord.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 4 September 2005 13:19 (sixteen years ago) link

I think the final chord (which is also the opening chord of the album) is played by a keyboard of some kind. Fool's Mate is a great introduction to Hammill's solo work, tho more playful than a lot of his later stuff.

I Ain't No Addict, Whoever Heard of a Junkie as Old as Me? (noodle vague), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:02 (sixteen years ago) link

Looks like on amazon.co.uk, Fool's Mate also got the reissue treatment, but not any of the other solo albums. If CD Wow would start carrying them, I'd consider gettingthem all.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:26 (sixteen years ago) link

Could be a synthesizer of some sort, I suppose, though the sound is close to a guitar.

I'm sure others will get the re-issue treatment in due course - to be hoped for, anyway.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:39 (sixteen years ago) link

The re-releases are coming in batches, fairly chronologically I think. You can check Sofa Sound for more info.

I Ain't No Addict, Whoever Heard of a Junkie as Old as Me? (noodle vague), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:42 (sixteen years ago) link

I was recently sent a copy of The Future Now, which is really enjoyable.

Sundar (sundar), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:43 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm still waiting on FOPP selling them for £7.

Last Of The Famous International Pfunkboys (Kerr), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:56 (sixteen years ago) link

Just noticed these are available at Netflix:

Inside Van Der Graaf Generator (2005)
Progressive rock pioneers Van Der Graaf Generator opened doors for groups including Genesis and Pink Floyd and remains one of the most influential yet unappreciated bands of the genre. This inside look features rare archival performance footage, plus critical reviews and in-depth analysis of the band by former Van der Graaf members Judge Smith, Nic Potter and David Jackson, as well as a team of prominent music critics and rock journalists.

Van Der Graaf Generator: Godbluff Live (2004)
Recorded on September 27th, 1975, prog rock legends Van Der Graaf Generator take to the stage to deliver some astounding rock sounds. Recorded on a tour of France, the show concentrates on the "Godbluff" album.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:22 (sixteen years ago) link

The recent reissues are gonna be Americanized by Astralwerks/Caroline in October or thereabouts, for substantially less money. I'm holding off.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:43 (sixteen years ago) link

I always thaought the sound at the opening and closing of Fool's Mate was a sine wave generator of some sort (maybe a synth).

And on a side note, I have a VHS of a VDGG tribute band called Van Der Graf Jr. that was shot at Barnsdall Park's auditorium, where today's Arthurfest is occuring.

nickn (nickn), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:58 (sixteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I reviewed the first batch of Astralwerks-distributed reissues to come out on October 4.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Monday, 19 September 2005 11:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Good interview

imago, Saturday, 3 November 2018 12:35 (three years ago) link

Amazing footage of them performing "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" (all 24 minutes!) on Belgian TV in 1972:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asPDvjUYFy4

grawlix (unperson), Monday, 5 November 2018 14:51 (three years ago) link

Wow

The nexus of the crisis (Sund4r), Monday, 5 November 2018 16:25 (three years ago) link

I love that clip. Hammill's toast the camera at the end. :)

jmm, Monday, 5 November 2018 16:31 (three years ago) link

Happy 70th big guy :)

frogbs, Monday, 5 November 2018 21:28 (three years ago) link

Fun fact: Peter Hammill guested onstage with The Stranglers in 1980... there's a version of 'Tank' that has Hammill on vocals and Robert Fripp on guitar.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 5 November 2018 22:02 (three years ago) link

As for VDGG, of course I rate everything from the first LP up to World Record highly.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 5 November 2018 22:03 (three years ago) link

whoa, HB dude haha

imago, Monday, 5 November 2018 22:17 (three years ago) link

Yes, Hugh Banton dude.

Alma Kirby (Tom D.), Monday, 5 November 2018 22:41 (three years ago) link

this could turn into an "is your child texting about Van Der Graaf Generator" meme quickly

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Tuesday, 6 November 2018 03:41 (three years ago) link

My wife who, in general, is very tolerant of whatever noise I'm blaring around the house (the Fall, P Ubu, "Lulu", skronk-jazz, etc) but VDGG is on the strict "no play list", haha

chr1sb3singer, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 18:19 (three years ago) link

six months pass...

only halfway through it but this collaboration album with Isildur's Bane is pretty awesome and not at all what I expected

frogbs, Thursday, 16 May 2019 15:28 (two years ago) link

how so?

imago, Thursday, 16 May 2019 15:36 (two years ago) link

I haven't heard a note from Isildur's Bane but I kinda assumed they were just another neo-prog band (I just looked 'em up...they're not), so I was pretty surprised by how modern and chaotic it sounds. Plus it's odd to hear Hammill's voice processed like this. My only gripe is that it's not produced very well.

frogbs, Thursday, 16 May 2019 16:03 (two years ago) link

am going to have to break down and buy this since it doesn't seem to be on streaming services.

akm, Thursday, 16 May 2019 18:48 (two years ago) link

four months pass...

A few UK gigs for VdGG just announced, with European dates to come. This may well be the last VdGG tour, so interested parties should make efforts to attend.

van dyke parks generator (anagram), Wednesday, 25 September 2019 05:21 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

The vers of "Still Life" on Vital is so good

chr1sb3singer, Tuesday, 14 April 2020 18:36 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Man, Flight (from 'A Black Box') is sooo damn great.

Maresn3st, Friday, 15 May 2020 21:33 (one year ago) link

Flight was my first experience with Peter Hammill. Hadn't yet witnessed VdGG although I knew the name from the Chrysalis inner sleeves on my Genesis lps. A Black Box had just been released and a campus radio programmer decided to play its entire second side. I remember being blown away by just that single listen for a few days afterward. Wished I'd taped it b/c the album was import only in Canada and not easily found. It took me another year before I could locate a copy and hear it again. In the interim, I'd picked up a couple of other Hammill solos from the same era (The Future Now, pH7) but none brought the same effect.

A Black Box is still my favourite of his, alongside Sitting Targets and This.

doug watson, Saturday, 16 May 2020 11:34 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

Interested to know how this turns out.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 1 November 2020 00:16 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

A really interesting Swedish TV performance with PH in '74 has just surfaced, some fans opted to buy the license to the footage after being given the nod by the man himself - who says he cannot remember doing it - to share on FB.

https://fb.watch/4bzKWtk4Hu/

Maresn3st, Friday, 12 March 2021 20:58 (eight months ago) link

Swiss actually

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Friday, 12 March 2021 21:19 (eight months ago) link

Ooops sry

Maresn3st, Friday, 12 March 2021 21:34 (eight months ago) link

That's a fascinating discovery. His piano playing alone is a little too crude to capture the subtleties of the songs, a guitar number in the middle might have broken it up a little.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 13 March 2021 03:38 (eight months ago) link

Dunno, have you heard his guitar playing?

fuck this for a game of soldiers (Matt #2), Saturday, 13 March 2021 09:44 (eight months ago) link

Yes, he's not a great guitarist. His piano playing is his piano playing, that's what he does! Anyway, these performances are not that different from the recorded versions, which are very much based around his piano, crude or not.

Woke For Luck (Tom D.), Saturday, 13 March 2021 09:58 (eight months ago) link

Right, but without backing vocals, Mellotron, etc. his piano style can get monotonous. The Silent Corner stuff is also at an unrelenting pitch of intensity; I saw him twice in 2008 and the mix of songs from throughout his career helped create variety in mood and playing style.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 13 March 2021 15:27 (eight months ago) link

two months pass...

Enormous 20-disc VdGG box set just announced for autumn release:

https://store.udiscovermusic.com/*/*/The-Charisma-Years/70JW0000000

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Thursday, 10 June 2021 19:04 (five months ago) link

CDs of his late 70s solo albums are dwindling away, I hope they're reissued soon, I haven't heard anything past Over, it's been a long time

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 10 June 2021 19:46 (five months ago) link

Wish they'd abandoned the CDs-in-cardboard-slits approach and give the discs solid mini-LP sleeves. Packaging- if not content-wise the Bowie boxes do this best (hardback in line with spines).

The remastering of these albums c.2004 was on the loud and harsh side, so hopefully the new versions will be less so.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:12 (five months ago) link

Oh, looks like there are 3-disc sets for each album getting the 5.1 treatment (H to He, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff, Still Life) with both mixes on CD and blu-ray, plus bonus tracks on the CDs.

And yeah, a Hammill box would be useful.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:34 (five months ago) link

The remastering of these albums c.2004 was on the loud and harsh side, so hopefully the new versions will be less so.

Ha, holy cow yeah they were and yes a Hammill 70s solo box would be great cuz I always feel like I have everything and then it turns out he's got ANOTHER solo jawn

chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:47 (five months ago) link

Oh good I’m glad the album are getting individual releases!

brimstead, Thursday, 10 June 2021 22:30 (five months ago) link

albums

brimstead, Thursday, 10 June 2021 22:30 (five months ago) link

two months pass...

This is a weird one, why shoot a video for this song? Did they think they could get a hit single with it? And who are the motley crew of people watching?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxWoYmb3MKw

"Bobby Gillespie" (ft. Heroin) (Tom D.), Tuesday, 24 August 2021 21:31 (three months ago) link

It might have been shot as part of a TV appearance, I guess it's the most likely song on World Record to appeal to a casual viewer.
The ending revealing the people watching foreshadows the "Shout" video by Tears for Fears a bit.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 24 August 2021 21:50 (three months ago) link

those crowd shots are a real trip, everyone seems a little uh...unsure about these guys

frogbs, Tuesday, 24 August 2021 22:49 (three months ago) link

Masks surely the obvious single off World Record

he ain't perfect but fuck me he's a rheillee (imago), Tuesday, 24 August 2021 22:56 (three months ago) link

Giant box set alert!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/814RENuri8S.jpg

CD 1: The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other
Darkness (11/11)
Refugees
White Hammer
Whatever Would Robert Have Said?
Out of My Book
After the Flood
BONUS TRACKS
Refugees (single version) – A-side April 1970
Boat of Millions of Years – B-side April 1970
Darkness (BBC Radio ‘Top Gear’ session 20 Jan 1970)
After the Flood (BBC Radio ‘Top Gear’ session 20 Jan 1970)

CD 2: H to He Who Am the Only One
Killer
House with No Door
The Emperor in His War Room
Lost
Pioneers Over C
BONUS TRACKS
Killer (first version) – Previously unreleased – Recorded at Trident Studios in July 1970
The Emperor in His War Room (first version) – Recorded at Trident Studios in July 1970
Lost (BBC Radio ‘Top Gear’ session 12 Oct 1970) – previously unreleased
Killer (BBC Radio ‘Top Gear’ session 12 Oct 1970) – previously unreleased

CD 3: Pawn Hearts
Lemmings (including Cog)
Man Erg
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers:
a) Eyewitness b) Pictures / Lighthouse c) Eyewitness d) SHM e) Presence of the Night f) Kosmos Tours g) (Custard’s) Last Stand h) The Clot Thickens i) Land’s End (Sineline) j) We Go now
BONUS TRACKS
Man Erg (BBC Radio One Sounds of the Seventies session – 10 June 1971)
Theme One (BBC Radio One Sounds of the Seventies session – 10 June 1971)
Vision (BBC Radio One Sounds of the Seventies session – 10 June 1971)
Darkness (BBC Radio One Sounds of the Seventies session – 10 June 1971)

CD 4
Theme One (A-side of single Feb 1972)
W (B-side of single Feb 1972)
Squid / Octopus (from Pawn Heart sessions)
Angle of Incidents (from Pawn Heart sessions)
Ponker’s Theme (from Pawn Heart sessions)
Dimunitions (from Pawn Heart sessions)
W (first version) (from Pawn Heart sessions)
Theme One (original mix) (from Pawn Heart sessions)
Man Erg (BBC Radio One John Peel Concert 23 Sep 1971)
W (BBC Radio One John Peel Concert 23 Sep 1971)
Killer (BBC Radio One John Peel Concert 23 Sep 1971)
Refugees (BBC Radio One John Peel Concert 14 Dec 1971)

CD 5: Godbluff
The Undercover Man
Scorched Earth
Arrow
The Sleepwalkers
BONUS TRACKS
Scorched Earth (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 3 July 1975)
The Sleepwalkers (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 3 July 1975)

CD 6: Live in Rimini 9th August 1975
A Louse is Not a Home
(In the) Black Room / The Tower
Forsaken Gardens
Lemmings
Scorched Earth
Man-Erg

CD 7: Still Life
Pilgrims
Still Life
La Rossa
My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)
Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End
BONUS TRACKS
Gog (live) – Recorded at the Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor, Wales 10 May 1975
Still Life (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 1 April 1976)
La Rossa (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 1 April 1976)

CD 8: World Record
When She Comes
A Place to Survive
Masks
Meurglys III (The Songwriters Guild)
Wondering
BONUS TRACKS:
When She Comes (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 11 November 1976)
Masks (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 11 November 1976)
Part One (Approx. 35% of) Meurglys III (The Songwriters Guild) – B-side of single Oct 1976 – Previously unreleased on CD

CD 9: Live at Maison de la Mutualite, Paris (6 Dec 1976 – previously unreleased)
Arrow
When She Comes
Masks
Still Life
Lemmings
Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End

CD 10: Live at Maison de la Mutualite, Paris (6 Dec 1976 – previously unreleased)
Meurglys III (The Songwriter’s Guild)
Gog
Sleepwalkers
Killer
Man-Erg

CD 11: The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
Lizard Play
The Habit of the Broken Heart
The Siren Song
Last Frame
The Wave
Cat’s Eye / Yellow Fever (Running)
The Sphinx in the Face
Chemical World
The Sphinx Returns
BONUS TRACKS
Door
Ship of Fools (B-side of French single from Sep 1977)
The Wave (demo version)
Cat’s Eye / Yellow Fever (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 24 October 1977)
The Sphinx in the Face (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 24 October 1977)
(Fragments of) A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers / Sleepwalker’s End (BBC Radio One John Peel session – 24 October 1977)

CD 12: Vital (live album)
Ship of Fools
Still Life
Last Frame
Mirror Images
Medley: A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers / Sleepwalkers

CD 13: Vital (live album)
Pioneers Over C
Sci-Finance
Door
Urban / Killer / Urban
Nadir’s Big Chance

CD 14: H to He Who Am the Only One (New stereo mix)
Killer
House with No Door
The Emperor in His War Room
Lost
Pioneers Over C

CD 15: Pawn Hearts (New stereo mix)
Lemmings (including Cog)
Man Erg
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers:
a) Eyewitness b) Pictures / Lighthouse c) Eyewitness d) SHM e) Presence of the Night f) Kosmos Tours g) (Custard’s) Last Stand h) The Clot Thickens i) Land’s End (Sineline) j) We Go now
BONUS TRACKS
Theme One (new stereo mix)
W (new stereo mix)

CD 16: Godbluff (New stereo mix)
The Undercover Man
Scorched Earth
Arrow
The Sleepwalkers

CD 17: Still Life (New stereo mix)
Pilgrims
Still Life
La Rossa
My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)
Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End

Blu-ray #1: ‘H to He Who Am the Only One’ and ‘Pawn Hearts’
BOTH ALBUMS IN HIGH RESOLUTION 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX / NEW STEREO MIX / ORIGINAL STEREO MIX
H to He Who Am the Only One
Killer
House with No Door
The Emperor in His War Room
Lost
Pioneers Over C
Pawn Hearts
Lemmings (including Cog)
Man Erg
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers:
a) Eyewitness b) Pictures / Lighthouse c) Eyewitness d) SHM e) Presence of the Night f) Kosmos Tours g) (Custard’s) Last Stand h) The Clot Thickens i) Land’s End (Sineline) j) We Go now

Blu-ray #2: ‘Godbluff’ and ‘Still Life’
BOTH ALBUMS IN HIGH RESOLUTION 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX / NEW STEREO MIX / ORIGINAL STEREO MIX
Godbluff
The Undercover Man
Scorched Earth
Arrow
The Sleepwalkers
Still Life
Pilgrims
La Rossa
My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)
Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End

Blu-ray #3: The Video Vaults
Darkness (‘Beat Club’ – German TV 23 June 1970) – previously unreleased
Whatever Would Robert Have Said (‘Beat Club’ – German TV 23 June 1970) – previously unreleased
Lost (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Killer (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Octopus (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Theme One (‘Pop Shop’ Recorded 23 March 1972 for RTBF, Belgium) First official release.
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (‘Pop Shop’ Recorded 23 March 1972 for RTBF, Belgium) First official release.
The Undercover Man (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Arrow (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Scorched Earth (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Sleepwalkers (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Wondering (Charisma promotional film 1976) Previously unreleased
Cat’s Eye (Charisma promotional film) Previously unreleased
Van der Graaf in Concert (The Kohfidisch Open Air Festival, Austria 17 June 1978 recorded by ORF TV). Previously unreleased

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 4 September 2021 00:30 (three months ago) link

how are the new remasters?

frogbs, Saturday, 4 September 2021 01:46 (three months ago) link

shit, apparently they're pretty good

frogbs, Saturday, 4 September 2021 02:51 (three months ago) link

It's already out? I should get this

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 4 September 2021 08:54 (three months ago) link

is any of this being released separately. Can't afford the full box.
Did prefer the previous remasters to the original cds but I think a lot of people didn't .

Stevolende, Saturday, 4 September 2021 11:43 (three months ago) link

Yeah there are separate reissues of H to He, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff & Still Life.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Saturday, 4 September 2021 12:12 (three months ago) link

if they pressed those on vinyl they'd make a killing - VdGG albums are pretty hard to come by

frogbs, Sunday, 5 September 2021 02:49 (three months ago) link

Yeah, vinyl reissues of those four are planned.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Sunday, 5 September 2021 05:12 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

Listening to Still Life now, I'm taken aback by how good it is to hear Peter's voice again (it's been several years since my last Hammill) but getting the CDs out the packaging of the new reissues is a bitch, I ripped the cardboard by accident.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 19:27 (two weeks ago) link

still life is the best one! that 20cd box set it up on streaming things!

kurt schwitterz, Wednesday, 17 November 2021 19:50 (two weeks ago) link


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