Well i finally did it. They didn’t all just magically appear from memory but the journey through the back catalogue yielded surprises, reflection and outright joy. Of course i will have left out certain favourites and no doubt included some lesser known gems.
If by the time i reach the end (and assuming you are still with me – long shot i know) there may be a complete revision needed. I’m not fully done with Do Not Disturb even though some tracks are included. Thanks must also go to the excellent resource at peterhammill.com
100. Accidents (From Enter K (Peter Hammill) – First Released 1982
Although the first entry in the list, this is a track i listen to regularly. It particularly benefits from a good sound system. It comes from the Enter K album which was an offshoot and natural successor to the proto-punk of the Rikki Nadir / Nadir’s Big Chance period. The K Group toured this album along with selections from Black Box and Sitting Targets.
It is quite an experimental song with a sonic heaviness more akin to VDGG, Ironically one of the constants with Hammill is that the casual listener may be lulled into a false sense of security that is often shattered with pieces of this ilk.
99. Rift Valley (From Time Vaults (VDGG) – First Released 1982)
From the collection of out-takes and rehearsals between 1972-75 and first released on cassette in 1982, Rift Valley is typical VDGG. Not sure why it never made it onto a full album but worth a listen if you need a ‘classic fix’.
98. Aquarian (from The Aerosol Grey Machine (VDGG) – First Released 1969)
Objectively the 1st VDGG album is a seminal piece of work. A little rough and ready but it has all the hallmarks and portents of things to come. There are psychedelic tinges (it was the sixties after all), but Aquarian is still listenable and although Banton’s organ sound holds this together it was technically a PH solo record due to contractual wrangles with Mercury. The label, however, would only release Hammill form the contract on the condition that they could release the album as a VDGG work.
97. If I Could (from The Future Now (PH) – First Released 1978)
This one takes me back to the first time i saw PH live at Manchester Apollo in ’78. He was supporting Brand X and put everything into the set. This track stood out for it’s delivery.
96. White Hammer (from The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other (VDGG) – First Released 1970)
The 2nd VDGG album saw a more distinctive (one could say typical of the classic era) sound. Here Jackson and Nic Potter RIP are to the fore. A sonically overloaded closing section leaves room for improvisation when played live.
95. What I Did (from Sitting Targets (PH) – First Released 1981)
An angular jarring affair from the post punk era. Reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s Exposure in parts.
94. Necromancer (from The Aerosol Grey Machine (VDGG) – First Released 1969)
Probably the first widely acknowledged ‘classic’ in the list and a track that has been periodically performed live.
93. Autumn (from Over (PH) – First Released 1977)
First of the ambient ballads and a distinctive tract of work that seems a precursor to much of the post rock and film soundtrack feel that is very prevalent today.
92. Time Heals (from Over (PH) – First Released 1977)
Following on from Autumn, Time Heals has a more orthodox verse, chorus structure with some nice subtle synth work and a sudden change in tempo towards the end. The album ‘Over’ is a recommended introduction to Hammill’s solo work.