Peter Hammill


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Peter Hammill's seventh album has been recorded with the same lineup as The Future Now (with the singer handling most instruments,David Jackson on sax, and Graham Smith on violin) but yields very different results. The spirit of experimentation that prevailed on the earlier opus has, for the most part, vanished in favor of tighter mainstream songs. After the slightly-too-sweet opening ballad, "My Favourite," comes "Careering," a jerky rocker that fails to convince. The dark "Porton Down" and "Mirror Images" are much better. The latter was part of Van Der Graaf Generator's live repertoire in the group's final months, and this studio version is pale compared to the raw rendition on VDGG's Vital. "The Old School Tie" and "Mr. X (Gets Tense)" attend political and social concerns. The pick of the litter is Chris Judge Smith's "Time for a Change," slightly country and totally charming. "Faculty X" ends the album with a more complex song for the progressive rock crowd (although it hardly concedes to any cliché of the genre). pH7 is a bit lackluster, and doesn't yield its fair share of classics, but it remains an enjoyable album and surely is more comfortable to listen to than The Future Now -- if comfort is something you're looking for.

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