Recorded live in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London in December of 1983, The Margin -- Live captures Peter Hammill in intellectual rock mode, rather than the acoustic style that he is often associated with. Hammill is backed by a superb band, the K Group (which includes John Ellis on guitar, Nic Potter on bass, and Guy Evans on drums and percussion), who are jaw-droppingly tight and technically brilliant. Amazingly, there are absolutely no overdubs found anywhere on the album. And the audience's applause has been erased, so you get the best of both worlds -- the energy and spontaneity of a live concert with the clarity of a studio recording. The album's opener, "The Future Now," contains continuously shifting dynamics, and borders on hard rock. "Porton Down" is quite a departure for Hammill, with its opening bluesy feel (due to Ellis' slide guitar), and is a showcase for the expertise of Evans' drumming. Midway through, the group gets to relax on a couple of lighter numbers ("Empress's Clothes" and "Labour of Love"), before returning to rock & roll ("Sitting Targets"). The Margin -- Live may very well be the definitive Peter Hammill concert album.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato