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 Van der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill

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Mr_K
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PostSubject: Van der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill   Thu 16 Apr 2009, 17:13

One of my enduring musical love affairs, this lot. VdGG and Hammill have made some startlingly brilliant and stunningly rotten records, but I loved the fact that you never quite knew what you would get from them. VdGG managed to take prog-rock and twist it into a sometimes brutal, snarling beast full of angst and fury - live performances were almost "grunge-prog" or even "punk-prog"! Dinosaurs maybe, but dinosaurs with nasty pointed teeth! Yet amongst all the "Sturm und Drang" Hammill has written some beautifully poignant & well observed love songs.

VdGG are perhaps best known for the dense, complex album "Pawn Hearts" (trivia: Pawn Hearts was a number one album in Italy for 12 weeks! It is also sampled by Jonny's faves, Porcupine Tree) but I much prefer the later, much leaner sounding incarnation of Van der Graaf. "Godbluff", "Still Life" & "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome" are the key albums for me, I haven't listened to any of the earlier stuff for years now.

As for Peter Hammill's solo work, where to start - the man has released about 30 studio albums, some of which would certainly make it into my top 50, others I would definitely use as ammo against rampaging zombies a la "Shaun of the Dead". For me PH lost his mojo around '83 and never really got it back, although there have been occasional moments of glory since then.
I think that the classic Hammill albums run from 1974's "In Camera" to "Enter K" in 1982 - all very different, but all very good. The earlier stuff is a bit too soft for me although his first solo effort, "Fool's Mate" is quite lovely in places. After "Enter K" the music lacks the spark, the easy brilliance and the fierce focus that makes Hammill's best work so superb to my ears.

I've seen PH live many times and I will admit that his voice is an acquired taste, but he had a riveting stage presence. Totally irrelevantly I once attended "An audience with Peter Hammill" - and he came across as a witty, charming man.

Anyone else into this stuff?
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Glendarian
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PostSubject: Re: Van der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill   Fri 17 Apr 2009, 06:26

I don't know too much VdG but love Peter Hammill's 70's albums too - wonderful stuff as you say. I imagine he'd be wonderful live but never saw him. I haven't listened to those for ages - must dig out my LPs! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Van der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill   Wed 22 Apr 2009, 19:35

Ahh, VdGG. I discovered their stuff around the same time as I got into Yes and early Genesis. Unlike those bands, though, they didn't get too much airplay on the radio so you had to really search for their stuff. Hammill's vocals are an acquired taste (the Hendrix of vocalists, John Lydon called him) but a taste well worth acquiring. A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers is my favourite of theirs (when I first heard The Loneliness Of The Tower Crane Driver I thout it a modern version of that song) as I love the drama of the piece.

I must check out their most recent stuff.

They were indeed an individual voice amongst the prog elite. More people should know of their existence.
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Mr_K
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PostSubject: Re: Van der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill   Thu 23 Apr 2009, 16:56

For Glendarian & KingSwinger.

Some Youtubes I found of VdGG & PH. I hope you enjoy them. I did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pR-f6t4L7Y
VdGG - Undercover Man from Godbluff - live in 2005. Hammill looks ill, but sounds immense

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDmhP6YiN6s
VdGG - Darkness 11/11 - live in 1970 - They're so young.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=721xPm6BADE
PH - If I Could - live 2001, just the man, his guitar and voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHP_tZHyFAg
PH - This Side of the Looking Glass - Live 1981 - with full orchestral backing. Intense.
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