Peter Hammill

In a Foreign Town

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Although not considered one of Peter Hammill's best by longtime fans, 1988's In a Foreign Town does contain some worthwhile material. Produced by Hammill himself, the album is far more upbeat than most of his past work, and sounds like mid-'80s Genesis at times. But it may be one of Hammill's most musically varied albums; just give a listen to the new wave sound of "Invisible Ink" (one of the album's catchiest and strongest tracks), the Talking Heads-like "Sci-Finance (Revisited)," and the Adrian Belew/King Crimson sound of "Auto." But the anemic '80s production of the material tends to take away from the compositions; it's the complete opposite of earlier Hammill releases, where he kept things more straight-ahead. The song "Under Cover Names" contains completely un-Hammill-like, cheesy Miami Vice keyboard sounds. The only track where the Peter Hammill-of-old resurfaces is on the stark piano/voice composition "The Play's the Thing." If the one-dimensional production was replaced with more interesting sounds, In a Foreign Town would have turned out better, since there was still plenty of strong Hammill songwriting present.

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