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Van Der Graaf Generator - World Record CD (album) cover

WORLD RECORD

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 686 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 54

'World Record' is the seventh studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1976. All the songs were written by Peter Hammill, except 'Wondering' which was written by Hugh Banton and Hammill. When of the recording sessions of the album there were two problems inside the band. The first problem was a lot of tension between the band's members, particularly between the leader Hammill and their keyboardist Banton. The second problem was a Hammill's personnel problem, the forthcoming separation of Peter from his long time girl friend which already shows up on the horizon. The result of this was that it was the last recorded album by this fantastic classic line up of the band until their reunion in 2005. At the end of 1976, following 'World Record', first Banton and then David Jackson departed from the group, having being replaced by their previous bassist Nic Potter that returned to the group to replace Banton, and the new presence of the violinist Graham Smith, ex-String Driven Thing, which replaced the saxophonist and flutist Jackson on their next eighth studio album 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' released in 1977.

'World Record' is a milestone release for Van Der Graaf Generator. It's the album that features extended guitar use for the first time into all their discography, until then. Hammill has outgrown his fear of inadequacy, probably giving to his guitar the space that it was really needed. Jackson makes for yet another time a brilliant musical work with his saxophones and flutes, which became a perfect cooperation with Banton's keyboard work.

'World Record' has five tracks. The first track 'When She Comes' is a song related with Peter's personal love affair. The song seems to relate to how unstable and unpredictable the relationships are, and how we can live with a person, who after all, we didn't know as well as we thought. After all, we have no guarantees of knowing someone, even if we are very close to that person, and so there is the danger of we are alone in the world. It's a fantastic track and one of my favourites too. The second track 'A place To Survive' is probably the most standard Van Der Graaf Generator's track on this album. This song is about of us be alone in this solitary world, after the breakup of a close relationship, and trying to find a place and a way to survive in this hostile world. This is also an excellent track. The third track 'Masks' is a song more in the style of the first song. It's about to show be someone that we aren't, and so fooling the people who live with us. It reminds us the danger of show a face that isn't really ours and because of that we lose our real face and in the end, we truly don't know who we really are. The fourth track 'Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)' is the lengthiest track on the album and is the most controversial, too. However, I really can't see any problem with this song. The song warns of the danger after the breakup of a relationship that we can isolate ourselves from the world remaining only as friends of our personal objects, for personal use, and only just talk to plants and animals, thinking we are gods in our personal world. This is a very lengthy and slow song especially composed for Hammill's guitar, the Meurglys III. Many people complain that the song is very extensive and has a reggae section. Sincerely, I don't see any problem with the size of the song and even with the reggae musical influences. I remember that we are on a site of progressive rock where musical genres aren't compartmented, and moreover we are talking about the sub-genre eclectic prog, which as its name indicates, receives influences from many different musical styles. The fifth track 'Wondering' is the song that ends beautifully the album. It's a hymn with a note of hope and desperate questions. It's an optimistic song with great lyrics supported by a high quality Banton's keyboard work. It brings us the hope that we need after the breakup on a relationship. We can return, arise and survive in this world. It brings also the hope that this line up of Van Der Graaf Generator may return, which luckily has happened, but unfortunately, only in 2005.

Conclusion: By all the problems mentioned above, 'World Record' is, in my humble opinion, the Hammill's most personal album of all the releases of Van Der Graaf Generator. This album is melancholic, helpless, angry, sarcastic, aggressive, dark, and almost brutal, from time to time, and at the same time it's very hopeful and very beautiful too. Why this album must be a masterpiece? Because 'World Record" has everything needed to be a masterpiece. It has some of the most beautiful lyrics written by Hammill and it isn't inferior to almost all of the previous albums of the group. 'World Record' saw Hammill at the peak of his powers, at just the moment when 'Anarchy In The UK', the punk movement, blew apart a largely stagnant rock scene. Forty years later, all we can do is to admire them, and be grateful for the creation of an album like 'World Record'. It worked as an excellent album that closes magnificently one more Van Der Graaf Generator's musical era. It shows why Van De Graaf Generator is one of the best prog groups.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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