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Thought and Hope?

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posted on Jul, 17 2010 @ 03:00 PM

I realise we each have our favourite groups, musicians and in a broader sense, musical tastes, however, reading many of the contributions on ATS recently (many I suspect are from younger members) I would like to introduce a thread on someone who (in my humble) opinion is one of the most adventerous, underrated and honest musiscians – Peter Hammill.

Who the helll?

I’ve just stated who.

But why in philosophy?


I’ve tried to;
a) Be brief;
b) Keep this in chronological order;
c) Provide (what I think) are some of the highlights;
d) Omitted some of the 20 minute long tracks.

Even for those who don’t like the music please listen to his interview – it is so down to earth, so open and honest – covers religion, death….humanity?

Sorry to be a bore but I too hate to deny…..


PH formed a goup called Van der Graaf Generator which after one or two changes boasted; a powerful bass player (Nick Potter), a saxophanist who played dual amplified saxaphones (Peter Jackson), a classically trained organist who immediately proceded to build the biggest and loudest organ he could…hmmm! (Hugh Banton), a dummer that somehow managed to create 15/8 rythms along with more traditonal drumming 4/4 styles (Guy Evans) and Peter Hammill who wrote all the lyrics and whose 4 octave range somehow managed to cut through the rest….mostly…

They played together releasing several albums and twice disbanded with Peter Hammil going solo though enlisting help from his former band members. They reformed in 1975 and then around 1976 ‘finally’ broke up with Peter Hammill again releasing numerous ‘solo’ albums with various musicians including; Graham Smith on electic violin, Dave Jackson, Guy Evans and Nick Potter….
They reformed in 2002 as Peter Hammill said; ‘Before they were all dead.’ (Dave Jackson, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans) but Dave Jackson later left.



Seriously, progressive, powerful… Peter Hammill’s lyrics reflect the inner person’s feeling – very openly and are based on extremely lucid English. Finally, the music complements his lyrics – anger, fear, chaos, confusion, hope…..
I once read that he was one of three people who could terrify their audience… and no sorry…I forget the other two….but if you would like to contribute….?

The Man

Rather than create millions of unread words which would be pointless I have provided two links which I believe sum him up;

1992 Interview

Followed by the same guy – but older….and a lot more mature….!

Performing - Childlike Faith (excerpt)

Has been cited by numerous other musicians and supported Peter Gabriel on ‘So’ (someone had to sing the 4 octave refrains!)

Early Days

Darkness 11/11

An example from the very early days. Kids – if you think its just people wearing funny clothes and the music is moving too slow move on to the next….

Part 2 of Plague of Lighthouse Keepers

Apparently they turned up for a live TV show and were expecting to do a short (c. 7 minute set) instead they were asked to perform half of their latest album (for younger posters - this was a CD but bigger and blacker – and it also had a cover that you could read and ….well sometimes… get lost in). This meant a 20 minute track – which they did….half of which is here.

Theme One

For the English posters – for BBC – originally produced by George Martin - same session as the above…

Sleep Now

Apologies – I can’t find a live performance but this is for recent parents only…. ! All I can say is that as a parent it always makes me cry… even though mine have grown up now….sad but true!

Black Box

The Future Now

For the younger poster…..Peter Hammill in his middle prime….! (A bit like me but more so….)



A very subdued and formal version, in Lille where he had been invited by the French culture something or other…. Actually this must have been very difficult for him as he wasn’t ‘armed’ with a guitar or electic piano – just him – and an orchestra…..



In a Manheim bookstore… Can we really be so super sure…?

More Recent performances (not the songs)

Man Erg (part) 2005

Slightly longer version of Childilike….


2009 - A way Out

Originally performed around the time of ‘Future Now’ (above);
The beauty and feeling of a song he hadn’t sung for some 30 years – it obviously still brought back painful memories for him;


[edit on 17-7-2010 by The Wave]

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