Peter Hammill

Calm After the Storm

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As the title suggests, Calm After the Storm is a companion volume to the simultaneously released Storm Before the Calm compilation. But whereas that set highlighted the fiery operatics for which the (predominantly) 1970s-era Hammill was best regarded, this package takes the opposite tack, and isolates the gentle ballads that have always been a major part of his persona. The 18 tracks here include such undisputed staples as "(On Tuesdays She Used to Do) Yoga" (from Over -- an album that could itself have been included almost wholly on this set) and the sweetly maudlin "Wilhemina," and there's even room for some of alter ego Rikki Nadir's efforts, in the shape of both "Shingle Song" and "Been Alone So Long." Indeed, if there is any problem here, it's that not all of Hammill's ballads can truly be ranked among his best recordings -- both "Birds" and "Not for Keith" were certainly the lowest points on their respective albums (Fool's Mate and pH7), and their presence here would surely distort the expectations of those investigating Hammill's catalog with this as their starting point. Nevertheless, Calm After the Storm has to rate among the most intelligent compilations in the man's voluminous catalog, and if you take it with its sibling volume, the world of Peter Hammill will open wide for you.

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