Thursday, March 30, 2017

Peter Hammill - 1973 - Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night

Peter Hammill 
Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night

01. German Overalls (7:05)
02. Slender Threads (5:01)
03. Rock and Rôle (6:41)
04. In the End (7:24)
05. What's It Worth (4:00)
06. Easy to Slip Away (5:21)
07. Dropping the Torch (4:11)
08. (In the) Black Room/Tower (10:56)

Total Time : 50:43

Bonus Tracks on 2006 Virgin remaster:
09. Rain 3 AM (from recording sessions) (4:45)
10. Easy to Slip Away (Live) ( 4:47) *
11. In the End (Live) (7:23) *

* Recorded at the All Souls Unitarian Church, Kansas City, on Feb. 16, 1978

- Peter Hammill / acoustic & electric guitars, acoustic & electric pianos, Mellotron, harmonium, vocals

- Hugh Banton / organ, pianos, bass & bass pedals
- David Jackson / alto & tenor, acoustic and electric saxophones, flute
- Nic Potter / bass
- Guy Evans / drums, percussion

"Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" from 1973 can be seen as the first "real" Peter Hammill solo album, the predecessor "Fool's Mate" being a collection of pop songs. With "Chameleon" Peter Hammill digested the split of Van der Graaf Generator.
The first song of the album, "German Overalls", is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard, giving an impression of some of the reasons for the dissolution of the band. "Mannheim: rainy Saturday with no money nor friend; only Tequila can end the boredom. Try to reach London for a pocket of hope (...) What are we doing here?""German overalls" is the first of a few songs to come in which Peter wrote about life on tours. Later he enjoyed touring and standing on the stage, as he revealed in an interview. But the mammoth VdGG tours at the beginning of the 70s seemed to be a horrible experience by many aspects.

After there was no more Van der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill did not lose contact to the musicians, but had to figure out how o record music without a band, without extensive studio sessions in superb locations like Trident Studios in London. This was the birth of "Sofa Sound" and Peter's efforts in the emerging subject of home recording. The backbone of this album are in fact home sessions from Peter Hammill recorded on a TEAC 4-track tape machine, at the time new on the market, and affordable to a musician whose groundbreaking and innovative work with one of the icons of progressive rock music, VdGG, had left him with no money!

In the booklet of the remasterd "Chameleon" Peter explains that there was lot to learn for him in terms of sound, arranging and composing. For mixing and overdubbing attributions from himself (vocals) and from VdGG musicians (organ, saxes, drums) Peter Hammill could book Trident and engineer David Hentschel for a short time.

The songs have a wide range from typical VdGG-style dramatic tunes like "(In the) Black Tower" to solo arrangements with only voice and guitar.

The remastered edition of "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" includes bonus tracks, which sound Peter touts as "strange" and "brutal". But remastering has made them hearable again without "modernizing" them.

"Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night" shows someone searching for his personal and musical future. It offers some nice but unusual compositions. Not everyone's taste but authentic and rewarding.

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