Peter Hammill – Rikki Nadir

8-18-10                     Peter Hammill / Rikki Nadir

Recently, I listened once again to Peter Hammill’s 5th solo album, “Nadir’s Big Chance” (1975) and reacquainted myself with his alter ego “Rikki Nadir” – the rock ‘n’ roller to Hammill’s usual ‘prog rock singer-songwriter’.  I remember that there was even a 45 for the track “Birthday Special” that was actually credited to Rikki Nadir (but kept a “P. Hammill” writing credit).  I am guessing that it necessitated an alter ego for Mr. Hammill to keep up his pace of more solo albums than regular albums with his band Van Der Graaf Generator.

Well, a rock & roll album of 3-4 minute songs it is – as opposed to VDGG’s side-long epic works.  Per it’s 1974/5 recording / release date, it has the sound of 3rd or 4th album Roxy Music, in places – maybe it’s just the use of clavinet?

I am one of the few people that I know that literally did the Van Der Graaf Generator albums in the order of release.  I found “The Aerosol Grey Machine” LP first, in a 99 cent bin – and I tried it because I thought they might be German!  Silly me!  Onto the 2nd album next, “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other” – first a Probe US LP, then a Charisma UK LP.  I opted for copies of the 3rd VDGG LP “H To He – Who Am The Only One” on both US Dunhill and UK Charisma LP’s, too.  Then comes the first Hammill solo album, “Fool’s Mate” – which I now own a re-mastered CD of.  I got the US LP for VDGG album #4, “Pawn Hearts” – and it took me years to get around to obtaining a UK copy, as I noticed that it had one less track than the US issue!  Then Hammill solo albums #2, #3, #4…

By the time “Nadir’s Big Chance” walked down the pike, I already had 4 LP’s ( + variants) of Van Der Graaf Generator and 4 different Peter Hammill solo albums!  This makes Hammil & Co. one of the most prolific of the late 60’s / early 70’s British singer songwriters!  Roughly 8 albums in approx. 7 years!

Hammill’s 3rd & 4th solo albums, “The Silent Corner & The Empty Stage” and “In Camera” had been real favorites of mine.  “Nadir’s Big Chance” nearly didn’t sound like it was being made by the same guy!  Yes, the voice is the same, but – no erratic time changes, no “electronics”, no science fiction subject matter…Hammill’s 6th solo album, “Over” was easily instantly recognizable as the author of “The Silent Corner & The Empty Stage” and “In Camera” – Rikki Nadir has been a fluke, a “one-off”.  And onward I moved.

With as many LP’s as I have, not everything under the sun gets a second listen.  I thought enough of Hammill as an artist to try and obtain all of his original 70’s albums on CD, so when it came time to re-evaluate “Rikki Nadir”, I could just pop it on, while I rested at home one afternoon.  Out poured a flow of “UK 1975” – worthy of any artist working in England at that time.  No, not quite glam rock – a bit more in the direction of Roxy Music, as I previously mentioned.  1975 rock music – from England.  Listen and enjoy.

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3 Responses to Peter Hammill – Rikki Nadir

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    One day, before too long, I should dive into the Hammill pool. I always loved his vocals on Fripp’s “Exposure.” When I was at Harvest Records last Saturday there was a TON of Hammill vinyl, LPs and 12″ singles in the “H” bin. (need anything?) Obviously someone had just dumped a collection. You just don’t see that stuff everyday. Where should I begin. Disclosure: I’ve never heard VDG.

  2. ronkanefiles says:

    To keep from buying too much stuff, I would stick to only UK Charisma original LP’s. For you, I would recommend starting with “The Future Now” (make sure it has the insert) and “ph7” – they are closest to “Exposure” in execution / content.

    For “prog-rock-singer-songwriter”, get “The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage” and “In Camera” (both have lyric sheet inner sleeves).

    If somebody fenced everything, you could also try “Enter K” and “Patience”.

    For VdGG, it’s “Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other”, “H To He” and “Pawn Hearts”, with a down-the-line reformation giving us “Godbluff” and “World Record”.

    All this may not be to your taste, but if there is UK Hammill vinyl available to you at a good price, please try some. If you don’t like them, I’ll buy them off of you (Must be UK Charisma vinyl)


  3. Thanks for the excellent post – really interesting take on PH/ VdGG. Sometimes, I think Godbluff is the best album of all time, with Still Life running a close second, but Nadir was my way in to their world, so…

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