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Baker's Dozen

This Must Be The Plaice: Fish's Favourite Albums
Rev Rachel Mann , May 20th, 2013 05:57

The former Marillion frontman now solo singer-songwriter, picks out the gems in his record collection


Van Der Graaf Generator – Still Life
Peter Hammill is one of the most intimidating people I know. His intelligence is just overwhelming. Every time I meet him it’s like a kid meeting his old school teacher. Peter is such a funny guy because he’s so rooted, so true to himself. Peter’s turn of voice is something that had a real subconscious effect on me as well. I think – without sounding sexist – women in particular either think Peter Hammill is brilliant or they hate him. I’ve had girlfriends who won’t let me put a Peter Hammill record on no matter how pissed they were.

Just as Joni Mitchell uses syllables as part of the rhythmic structure of the music, so does Peter. But I think there’s a latent aggression in Hammill’s stuff - there’s a real scary, dark nastiness in some of the ways he writes and delivers and sings and I kind of associated with that. I empathised with a lot of his stuff he was doing around the time of Still Life – songs like 'Pilgrims' and 'My Room (Waiting For Wonderland)'. Fucking brilliant stuff.

Again, I was torn between picking [Hammill’s solo album] Over – which was an album that I really identified with – and Still Life. He came out and supported Marillion on the Script… tour and he caught Mark Kelly and me at soundcheck fluffing through 'Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers' – just the start – and there he was standing at the side of the stage and it was a school teacher moment. I felt like, "oh fuck, we’ve just been caught smoking!"

It’s Hammill’s very physical singing I love. The way he brings the passion and the feel and just launches into it. That’s one reason why I keep on fucking my voice up. You go out on a stage and you’re in the moment and the adrenaline hits and you’re in the lyric and it’s triggering off all these feelings and all this anger and rage and you just let loose. I learned a lot from listening to Peter sing – from the way that he managed to channel emotions. Still Life I think has got to be the one, if I have to tag one, but I still play the vinyl of Over.