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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1844 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I only discovered VDGG about 10 years ago after digging a bit into Peter Hammill's musical origins. Hammill is the lyricist and vocalist for the band and has a very expressive and theatrical style, not unlike Peter Gabriel, but more exaggerated. I picked up a copy of Pawn Hearts (1971) to check them out. I liked some of it immediately, but struggled with other parts. Shortly thereafter I learned from my archeology that Godbluff (1975) is considered by many critics to be VDGG's greatest album. I bought a scratchy old copy on vinyl , replacing it recently with a CD. There are 4 solid songs on the recording, each about 8 to 10 minutes long. These are well crafted , tight compositions, somewhat different than what I was used to from Pawn Hearts. The sound is definitely of its time, fitting right in with the King Crimson and Genesis sounds of the day, but also exhibits some jazz influence, perhaps coming from bands like Traffic or Soft Machine, courtesy of the sax and flute player David Jackson. If you're looking for a strong guitar sound you have come to the wrong place. While Hamill plays sparingly on the guitar, the real strengths of the work are his turn of phrase and theatrical voice, as well as Jackson's winds. The drumming and keyboards are often excellent as well. The stories in the lyrics hold one's attention, but are typical of the Progressive music in the 70s in that they are dense and sometimes excessive. The album opens with Undercover Man, a moody piece about a relationship (perhaps forbidden) in which Hammill's pleading voices intertwine with Jackson's sax creating a haunting and melancholic sound. The next two tracks both conjour images of Tolkeinesque battles. Scorched Earth is a tale of a warrior on the run, and Arrow, which as far as I can tell is about the failure of a wartime negotiation. Both are a dark and harsh, particularly Arrow, which if you don't like Hammill's screaming can be a long song. The final piece, Sleepwalkers, is the best on the album in my opinion. It has a similar dark mood as the previous two, but is mellower and maintains a kind of nimble energy from start to finish. It's lyrics, which deal with dreams and other-world experiences, are worth a few listens. Which leads me to a minor complaint, and that my copy of this album/CD came with no liner notes or lyrics. Nevertheless, this is an excellent example of the 70s Progressive genre and should be on anyone's list who is interested in the Progressive rock style.
| 4/5 |


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