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Record Review Reprint
The first of his "nether period" albums that span the gap between his beat oriented K group work and his later solo output starting with Out of Water. Most definitely the least interesting album Hammill ever made. Mainly bland pop which does not have the spark in evidence on later material on In a Foreign Town, for example. Heaven knows what audience it was aimed at. Vocals are generally good, as you would expect. But melodically, this is so formulaic for Hammill, it always amazes me whenever I pluck up the courage to air it again. The chorus of After the Show is almost passable but the accompaniment is so sickly, it is unforgivable. It even has the reverb rim shots and syrupy saxophone. Painting By Numbers makes me cringe and Shell has so many banal cadences from promising preparations that it is more annoying than anything else. A Perfect Date has sampled hand claps for heaven's sake. Four Pails is analogous to The Play's The Thing on In a Foreign Town: a simple song and much better for it. Not particularly good though. Now Lover has dijeridu before the trend for ethnic instruments has quite reached the puerile zenith it did later in intellectual popular music. Effective vocal harmonies but drowned with that patented 1980s "isn't digital a wonderful thing" sound. Only for people seriously interested in examining all sides of Hammill's output.
© 1996 Phil Kime
Q Magazine, 56-1991, page 96:
Recorded in 1986, when love (and marriage) was back on the menu, Skin is probably Hammill's most accessible, direct album. It's also his broadest statement of intent, mixing up-tempo pop (Painting By Numbers), delicate mid-tempo rock (All Said And Done), brooding, sombre ballads (Shell And Four Pails) and Now Lover, a beautifully measured 10-minute summation of classic VdGG-era dynamics and solo shadings. Newcomers, start here.
© 1991 Martin Aston - Q Magazine
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