Release Date: 1973

Track Listing
1)  German Overalls
2)  Slender Threads
3)  Rock and Role
4)  In the End
5)  What's it Worth
6)  Easy to Slip Away
7)  Dropping the Torch
8)  (In the) Black Room

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Member: jargonking (Profile) (All Album Reviews by jargonking)
Date: 11/16/2003
Format: CD (Album)

Chameleon is among the best of Peter Hammill's early albums and features several compositions that bridge the gap between his roles as band member of Van der Graaf Generator and as a fully fledged solo artist. Most of the band appear on many of the tracks,most notably David Jackson's innovative sax and Guy Evans'insistent percussion.

The opening track details the trials of life on the road on a European tour,a life that,when not performing,is beset with long periods of boredom, petty arguments, homesickness and poverty. Much of the album seems to be PH assessing where he stands in his life at that point...friends that have moved on "Easy to Slip Away", "Slender Threads",the break up of the band "In the End",which direction to take "What's it Worth" and his ultimate place in the grand scheme of things "Dropping the Torch".

The album ends with a kind of last stand for VdGG since "In the Black Room" would not be out of place on Pawn Hearts. All in all this is an excellent album and a good introduction to Hammill as a solo performer. The playing and production are exemplary throughout and it really stands the test of time.

An essential purchase.
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Member: flutie479 (Profile) (All Album Reviews by flutie479)
Date: 6/2/2007
Format: CD (Album)

To try and encapsulate this album into description has its drawbacks for me. Iíve been playing and replaying this one and there are many strong things going on here. I have the compact disc version, Carol 1691-2. The sound seems as though itís not been altered and, for 1973, is pretty remarkable. There are a few Ďeffectsí that date the material, but these donít detract inasmuch as they amplify a sort of spookiness to the music.

The musicians arenít listed anywhere, although Hugh and David are spoken of during the first song; that would be Banton and Jackson respectively; as for the drummer, as referenced by the reviewer above, it is Guy Evans. Each song has Peter with lyrics, and there are no instrumentals. The songs all seem to be planned out, rehearsed, and laid down for posterity.

This is one of the first visits I made in listening to Peter Hammill, but I knew it was too dense for me to deal with. The exercise wouldíve been more like banging my head against a wall because itís not really and introduction to his music as such.

Although this is a solo album, the flavorings of VdGG are present here, not at all times, but in places they accentuate a hidden band theme behind Peter. For the most part this is acoustic in feel even though there are some flourishes when itís anything but!

What interests me about this album is the emphasis with their abilities to capitalize on slow tempos almost throughout the whole affair but itís done in such a way as to make the listener slow down and really listen. It takes patience and a concerted effort to settle into this slowness, but when you get there itís rewarding.

The last song is really three songs altogether and it breaks the mold of all this slowness. There is more of a group effort on the final trio of songs, more in a VdGG bent. The most sound is here, and the most dissonance. Itís almost a tradeoff for Peter to want to break away from this realizing character to one who has a need to live through experience, as though words and realizations arenít enough. He needs to visit the author and the actor simultaneously which inherently comes along with the band.
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