Fool's Mate was released in 1971, and it was the first solo album Peter Hammill ever recorded. The title is a reference in both Chess and Tarot cards. The album was recorded in 1971 in the the midst of one of Van Der Graaf's most creative periods. Peter Hammill decided to record this album in order to include some of his songs that were too short or too simple than the material Van Der Graaf were using for their records.
On the record sleeve there is a note written by Peter Hammill declaring the following: "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."
The record contains 12 songs in total, which in their majority are based in piano and acoustic guitar. There are many wonderfull melodic and sad moments in this record, indicating the personal feelings of Peter Hammill. The lyrics are simpler and not so much sophisticated as they are in his later works, but that doesn't seem to be any kind of problem. (For me at least).
The musicians that helped him in the recordings, are the members of Van Der Graaf Generator, plus a couple of members from the folk band Lindisfane, and with the addition of the guitarist Robert Fripp. (King Crimson).
The UK music press had a very positive approach on Fool's Mate, and a few music magazines named it as the 'The Album of the Year'.
Fool's Mate is one of my most favorite records of Peter Hammill's solo career, and in my opinion the best moments here are the songs: Candle, Happy, Vision & The Birds.
Here you can see the whole playlist of the album, and on the following video's you can listen to a couple of songs.
Fool's Mate (1971)
"Candle" - 4:16
"Happy" - 2:36
"Solitude" - 4:56
"Vision" - 3:13
"Re-Awakening" - 4:01
"Sunshine" - 3:56
"Child" - 4:25
"Summer Song (In The Autumn)" - 2:13
"Viking" - 4:44
"The Birds" - 3:38
"I Once Wrote Some Poems"