Van Der Graaf were one of the more challenging prog rock listens back in the day. This is from another record that narrowly missed burning up in the Malibu House fire. Sounds like it could be off any number of David Bowie’s pre-Ziggy efforts.
Fool’s Mate is the debut solo album by Peter Hammill of progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. The title is both a chess and tarot reference. It was produced by Trident Studios’ in-house producer John Anthony. The album was recorded in 1971, in the midst of one of Van der Graaf Generator’s most prolific periods. Hammill used the album to record a backlog of songs which were much shorter and simpler than his Van der Graaf Generator material, and declared on the original album sleeve: “This isn’t intended to be any kind of statement of my present musical position, but at the same time, it is an album which involves a great deal of me, the person, basically a return to the roots.”
Fool’s Mate includes one of Hammill’s most celebrated love songs, “Vision”, which he still performs regularly in concert to the present day. Guest musicians on the album included the members of Van der Graaf Generator, members of his label mates Lindisfarne, and guitarist Robert Fripp.
The UK music press was generally very positive about Fool’s Mate. Melody Maker saw “one of THE albums of the year”.
The cover was designed by Paul Whitehead who at the time was the favourite cover artist for Charisma bands Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator.
In 2005 the album was issued in remastered form by EMI Virgin Records, supplemented with bonus demo recordings of several songs.