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Van Der Graaf Generator - Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans) CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

2.12 | 42 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars In 1984, following the split up of legendary VDGG, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, and David Jackson found their way into a studio and churned out a bunch of tracks that eventually were released unofficially on a bootleg known as "Gentlemen Prefer Blues". Inevitably, with the rise of interest towards the band, the moniker VDGG with the 3 members was too irresistible and the tracks were mastered and picked up by Thunderbolt (The Magnum Music Company) and given the title "Now and Then". It really is a weird oddity to hear VDGG sounding like this but it is not half as bad as the avant kanoodling on their improvised material, namely "ALT".

"Now and Then" consists of mostly instrumental material that feature Jackson's awesome sax taking centre stage with the occasional flute solo. The music is upbeat mostly and bright such as the jumpy rhythms of 'Tropic of Conversation' and the Caribbean influenced 'Spooks'. 'The Liquidator' and 'Tarzan' are highly unusual, as they come from a different VDGG era, but they are quite pleasant. 'Tarzan' is a jazzy saxy thing with a steady tempo and some thunder claps. Hammill actually wrote these pieces and his presence is a definite improvement. His vocals on 'The Liquidator' are very welcome, and it is far superior to the other tracks contained therein. This song in particular is taken from the 1973 and 1974 sessions in the intertestamental period between "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff". They are not new to this compilation however having been fleeced from the "Time Vaults" album.

The jazzy instrumentals are nothing like the odd prog of the VDGG studio releases but are nevertheless nice background music. 'The Epliogue' in particular is just a smooth jazz filler that would work in a late night cabaret club. I would love to hear it playing as I walked in the doors of a swank restaurant with a hot date draped on my arm. Really this atmospheric music is not something to return to on a regular occasion, unlike other VDGG albums. It is definitely something to savour for completists, but I doubt it will trouble anybody's collection if they did not own this.

The weirdest pieces are definitely 'Gentlemen Prefer Blues', a sax improvisation, and the chilling experimentalism of 'The Main Slide', that is dissonant atonal fractured sounds without any structure. Overall the album is definitely a collectors only item but not the starting point for those who are intrigued with this astonishing progressive band.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |


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