Thursday, February 5, 2009
Peter Hammill - Fool`s Mate (@flac)
"You have to assume that when Peter Hammill sits down to write music, he has something specific in mind. But, then again, music has a way of making a number of decisions all on its own. Fool's Mate is a set of famously "orphaned" songs, written before and during the original Van der Graaf Generator days that simply did not fit the VdGG style. They are odd even beyond that because this record proves not to be a precursor to "Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night" or any other Hammill solo album, with the possible exception of the short pop song forms found on "Nadir's Big Chance".
Which means, absent even of a Rikki Nadir-like theme, Fool's Mate is really just a collection of great songs, performed with Hammill's characteristic sense of urgency and reflection. What's shocking is just how good they really are, especially considering how early we are in Hammill's career. The observations are typically simpler and more direct than much of his later work, yet sacrifice no insight or originality. Some, like "Summer Song in the Autumn" are quite simply beautiful in both sentiment and presentation. Others might now seem perhaps a bit juvenile -- "I once wrote some poems" was all depth and pain when I first heard it some 30 years ago, today it sounds somewhat affected -- but all in all the music and lyrics hold up remarkably well even when compared to the vast and uniformly remarkable corpus of Hammill's work. Compared to just about anything else, these songs will never come up short.
As for the sound quality, the remastering reveals layers of instruments and voices that weren't even accessible on the original import vinyl, at least not on my stereo at the time. Which is even further proof of the growth in arranging and performing that Hammill and the lads were experiencing during one of their most productive periods. The results are all there to hear.
EAC - CUE - LOG - FLAC - SCANS
Posted by . at 6:17 PM