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

WORLD RECORD

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.80 | 504 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Any energy left in the Generator?

After the absolutely amazing masterpieces Godbluff and Still Life Van Der Graaf Generator [VdGG] quickly came out with a third album to complete their unofficial trilogy after their reuniting. Sporting a slick cover, the classic line-up and a 20+ minute long track this is an album which will no doubt get a lot of attention just from looking at it. But a follow up to two of the band's most renowned albums is going to be something difficult to do, and even though he's considered by many to be a musical mastermind/madman, will Hammil be able to pull it off?

Not quite. While the album does still carry all the trademarks of the VdGG sound but something is missing. What that something is exactly is not really noticeable on the first spin but it becomes painfully obvious with each subsequent listen - this album sounds very tired. Very lackluster. While prior albums (especially Still Life) go from great to amazing thanks to their emotional delivery and electric playing this one just doesn't have that. Indeed, when listening to the album you wonder if the band was really ''into it'' those days when they were in the studio. Hammil muses over the tracks instead of using is bloodthirsty scream and the other band members lull around behind him. While it's not fair to compare this album to prior albums from the band, if every VdGG album were like this they'd be quite the boring group, and indeed, if this were the first album I'd heard by them I probably wouldn't have dug to much further into their discography.

Now, that ranting aside, the album isn't bad, it just isn't exceptional. What we have here is a very average album. Not sub par, but not amazing. Some of the tracks are quite fine indeed, and while they may not be quite so spine chilling as the band is so easily capable of reaching it still manages to make for a pleasant listen. When She Comes is a song that almost makes good use of Hammil's voice, his screaming coming in for a few moments at a time - but he sounds, for some reason, drowned out by the rest of the band his voice not quite accentuated enough to have great impact. Because let's face it - if you're going to be spinning a VdGG album you want to hear Hammil's scream.

Likely the standout of the album is the song that comes closest to achieving what VdGG normally do and that song is Masks. It starts like a kind of twisted lounge song before Jackson steps in to take it for a twist with his sax, Hammil not far behind. Very well done and this is where Hammil actually gets to exercise his voice that we're more used to. A Place To Survive is worth noting because of it's funky pace and sax section while the first half of Wondering has quite the melody but is unfortunately somewhat spoiled by the over repetition of ''wondering...'' coming into the end.

Now everyone is likely wondering (no pun intended) about the longest composition on the album, the monstrous Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild). What we have here is one of VdGG's strongest tracks that could have been made a lot better at points seeing as it feels thrown together sometimes. Still a wonderful song that is 15-minutes of very good VdGG and 5 or 6 minutes of Bob Marley reggae instrumental at the end. While this is a feature that many people often complain about I'll say this: it's good and it's fun if you're not going anywhere. However, if you want the song to simply finish (which you might the fourth or fifth time you hear the song) the ending section gets very tiring very fast.

In the end this one gets a 3. Quite good, but it shouldn't be your start into the VdGG waters. Fans will still find a lot to love in the compositions - perhaps not as much as prior albums, but a lot none the less. A very good record that is not quite as good as we know VdGG to be capable of, this one is also the end of an era where the band (by some miracle) managed to stay together for a string of albums. 3 Earth-sized records out of 5. Not only for fans, but they'll likely appreciate it more.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |

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