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Van Der Graaf Generator

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Van Der Graaf Generator I Prophesy Disaster album cover
3.33 | 62 ratings | 10 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Afterwards (4:57)
2. Necromancer (3:36)
3. Refugees (5:24)
4. The Boat of Millions of Years (3:50)
5. Lemmings(including Cog) (11:37)
6. W (4:26)
7. Arrow (9:46)
8. La Rossa (9:50)
9. Ship of Fools (3:46)
10. Medley (Parts of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" and "The Sleepwalkers") (13:32)

Total Time: 70:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Guy Evans / drums
- Hugh Banton / organ, bass pedals and guitar (No 1 to 8)
- David Jackson / saxes, flutes (No 1, 8, 10)
- Keith Ellis / bass (No 1, 2)
- Nic Poter / bass (No 3, 4)
- Graham Smith / violin (No 9, 10)
- Charles Dickie / cello, keyboards (No 10)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to m@x for the last updates
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR I Prophesy Disaster ratings distribution

(62 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR I Prophesy Disaster reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My introduction to the VDGG's world! I immidiately enjoyed Refugees very much, I was pleased by Necromancer and Afterwards then.... impressed by Arrow and La Rossa!! In the first moment these last two have disturbated my musical awareness a lot! But something strange started to gnaw my was the discovery of that further concept of music!

"...west is where all will someday ends..."

P.s. great compilation because of the rare tracks. But with the new 2005 stunning VDGG's remasters it lacks in importance!

Review by Matti
3 stars Maybe VDGG was just waiting for its real breakthrough in my musical history in '96 ('Plague' had impressed me already in '89 in a radio series on prog), but borrowing this compilation launched it anyway. Firstly, 'Lemmings' that I had 5 years earlier unsuccessfully tried to get into now simply amazed me ("what choice is there left but to try..." Goosebimples!), and I loved to catch again the rarity 'The Boat of Millions of Years' of which radio taping I had lost long ago.

The CD starts with two fantastic outtakes from the debut Aerosol Grey Machine: the whole album was a disappointment to me later that year, but 'Afterwards' is one of the finest soft & straight pop songs by Hammill, and 'Necromancer' has magic to match its name. Fresh, emotional ballad 'Refugees' (from Least We Can Do...) has nearly embarrassingly high thin vocals but is one of the best known VDGG songs.

'Arrow' was my introduction to Godbluff album: it has that manic singing style close to terrified screaming that I had disliked in Hammill (and partly still do), but to this thrilling piece it suits gorgeosly. David Jackson's unique saxophone playing shines here. 'W' is a low- key song with interesting lyrics - wait a minute, Hammill's lyrics are ALWAYS interesting, but this time they keep the song from being just boring.

'La Rossa' is the key(?) track from Still Life, aching with sore emotions. But nearing ten minutes, I don't consider it among the best long VDGG tracks. The closing track (from the live album Vital) combines parts of 'Plague' and 'Sleepwalkers' but I prefer studio versions of both: this is somehow blurry and has lost the deep atmosphere of 'Plague'.

Probably this compilation works well as an introduction to VDGG's world as it covers many periods and styles, but I'd rather recommend their originals to grace your prog collection (the new editions even have the rare tracks too).

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The third VDGG compilation in a row. This one covers the period from "The Aerosol Grey Machine" to "The Quiet Zone". Quite difficult to summarize on one CD. As for the previous two compils, I will compile this review as well, taking excerpts of my reviews for each individual album.

We get two numbers from their first release : "Afterwards" sounds a bit psychedelic but nave. Peter's voice is already the one we all know. Quite in the mood of the era I must say. This song announces great ones like "Refugees". Good piano from Banton. This is a nice, relaxing song (VDGG will not produce a lot of this type throughout the years).

I'm not that found of "Necromancer" : this is a very bizarre track with scary lyrics (as Peter will write an awful lot - I wonder where he got such a dark inspiration, although ...). The Necromancer says : "I live in the black woods, where you dare not even Speak my name, If there is evil in your heart and you will come near to me, You will lose your sane". There will be a better version available in "The Box".

Two other ones from "The Least..." sessions : "Refugees" and "The Boat" (a studio leftover). "Regugees" was already present on "First Generation". Since it is my preferred VDGG one I will not complain.

Two from the "Pawn Hearts" sessions : "Lemmings". Do you know these animals that follow each other until they fall into the precipice and die ? Peter will start the song in this way :

"I stood alone upon the highest cliff-top, looked down, around, and all that I could see were those that I would dearly love to share with crashing on quite blindly to the sea..." and "What course is there left but to die ?". We are again into the darkest themes in which death is very welcome.

This song is average. Not very powerful (at times very, very quiet : like KC in "Moonchild"), somewhat jam-oriented and jazzy. A bit disappointing. Second one is : "W" (another studio leftover).

"Arrow" from "Godbluff" : is a very complex song, wild at times and difficult to enter into. Great drumming from Evans and very strong sax from Dave (this guy is really great). This is the most reminiscent track of their first era.

"La Rossa"from "Still Life" : is a more classic VDGG, harder and darker with a very powerful band supporting Peter. It is the first song in which he seems tortured as he used to be. More keys than usual and Jackson more in a background mode (but this is valid for the whole of "Still Life"). It works pretty well, though. The finale is extremely powerful : the band being really strong. A great track but the less accessible of the album.

One song from "The Quiet Zone" sessions ("Ship Of Fools" - the third leftover here). Then the live Medley "A Plague..." from their "Vital" effort.

As you have noticed, except "Refugees" which is IMO the best VDGG song (and one of the most emotional all time, all genres) the track selection is not so rich as in both "Generation" efforts. They could have added songs as "White Hammer" or "After The Flood" from "The Least..." as well as "House With No Door", "The Emperor" for "Lost" form "H To He"to replace existing ones.

I would not highly recommend to buy this one (I did not - just compile it from their original catalogue). Not that it is a bad album, but the occasional fan for which this has been released should better stick to the very good "Scenes From First and Second Generation".

Three stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good Introduction of VdGG to Newbies

This is a classic band which I had not paid enough attention with for quite long until I found their "Still Life" album. I knew that the band was great & unique in which they tried to replace the wild and distorted sounds of electric guitar with Hammond organ. Wow! What a fabulous idea, don't you think? They proved to be successful with their musical philosophy and approach. The sound of organ not just make a replacement of guitar but it then became the trademark of Van der Graaf music in addition to Hammil s voice.

As the CD sleeve puts it, this compilation is complimentary to previous Virgin s compilation under First Generation and Second Generation titles - as an alternative for newbie on VdGG music. It starts from the band s initial effort Afterwards which appeared in the band s debut album "The Aerosol Grey Machine" in 1969. The opening track blends nicely poetry, music and unique vocal quality. This song represents the era where at late sixties the psychedelic music swept the pop music in UK with bands like "Pink Floyd" under Syd Barett era. The sound of piano makes it so clear. It flows to Necromancer from the same album. Each song provided here represents the music of its era. My favorites include "Arrow", "La Rossa", and "Ship of Fools".

The key of VdGG music is probably the emotional and theatrical voice of Peter Hammil, combined beautifully with soaring and jaw-dropping work of Hammond organ played skillfully by Hugh Banton and dynamic sax work by David Jackson. Look at "Ship of Fools" which I think it's the best track of this compilation. The way Hammil sings at the opening part is truly awesome because he can wonderfully combine his baritone voice and tenor at the same time. It's not just that! He can bring his voice with great accentuation and nice flow combining high and low points skillfully. This track is the best to demonstrate Hammil's vocal virtuosity. Banton provides his shots beautifully throughout the song through making fills as well as providing rhythm section when Hammil sings. David Jackson's role is more on providing harmonies with organ as well as music fills with his sax work. I also love how drum is being performed in this track.

Overall, I would say that this compilation serves its purposes for introduction to VdGG for newbies as well as a summary of VdGG musical journey for die hard fans of VdGG. Because the content stems from the band s initial efforts and various eras, please get prepared with differing sonic quality from one track to another. It is typical in any compilation CD, isnt it? Keep on proggin ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Van der Graaf Generator compilation is never a bad thing as the band had so much to offer and choose from to fill up an album. I sat down with this compilation simply to hear all these tracks compiled in a different way than the album releases and to re-familiarise myself with some of the lesser known tracks. The first thing one notices is the almost maddening patience the band has as it introduces each of the tracks. But there are always moments of brilliance with each track as the pace ranges from slow to breakneck, and the time signatures change throughout, not only with the instruments but with Hammill's incredible vocal delivery. It is pleasant to listen to these cuts taken from the classic albums such as the choices from the debut 'Afterwards,' and 'Necromancer' that demonstrate the innovation in the early years.

'Refugees' is a treasure from "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", though I definitely prefer the brilliant 'Darkness (11/11). 'The Boat of Millions of Years' was a rarity until its release as a bonus track on the remaster of the aforementioned album.

We move then to some tracks from the masterpiece "Pawn Hearts", including genius composition 'Lemmings (including Cog)'. Here, it is easy to see why this band are musical pioneers and boundary pushing visionaries. The track begins innocently enough, "I stood alone upon the highest cliff-top, looked down around and all I could see were those that I would dearly love to share with crashing on quite blindly to the sea." David Jackson's saxophone soon turns it up a notch and we are treated with the maelstrom of sound and verbal music psychosis that is quintessential VDGG. 'W' follows that is a track that never made it to the album but it is nice to hear it here.

"Godbluff" is well presented by the dark, brooding menace of 'Arrow'. Hammill's vocals are more tortured and raspy on this track and are a surprising contrast to the smoothness on the other tracks. The track begins with a percussion and saxophone improvisation that reminds one of the early King Crimson years. The track relies highly on saxophone and Hammond but the understatement of the bass is admirable and knits it all together perfectly.

'La Rossa' is one of the gems from "Still Life", a wonderful composition with an antithesis of intense atmospheres and entrancing beauty; Hammill absolutely blasting out with an emotive delivery. Jackson is a revelation on sax and the organ grinds powerfully throughout, along the drums and bass motifs. This track is truly a wonderful foray into the dark netherworld of VDGG. Ear splitting vocals and ambient keyboards are the order of the day and Hammill is a master of the insightful existential lyric. This is him at his existential best as he indulges in caterwauling along genuinely off kilter melodic jazz dissonance.

'Ship of Fools' was an unreleased single but now represents the bonus track from the remastered "The Quiet Zone/ The Pleasure Dome" with raucous servings of heavy guitar, and intense vocals full of angst and rage. It is perhaps the heaviest that the band gets, and shows a new direction that the band took during this era of 1977.

'Medley (Parts of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" and "The Sleepwalkers")' is the 13:32 treasure from the live "Vital". I always loved this version from the live performance and at least this compilation does include some of the ingenious "Pawn Hearts" epic. It is not as good as the epic of course but still nice to revel in. The way it segues into "Godbluff"'s 'The Sleepwalkers' is a stroke of genius and again it is great to hear those quirky melodies again. It begins softly and then launches into the maelstrom of sound and verbal music psychosis that is VDGG. The Hammond and sax take us deeper into the abyss and VDGG really let loose with wild staccato riffs and a monstrous finale where everything just explodes into a paroxysm of uncontrolled mayhem. It's a killer track and moves from romanticism with piano elegy only to explode into a doom-laden soundwave with wild saxophones screaming over unfriendly sounds such as Dickie's keyboards and Guy Evan's off-kilter percussion. Potter's bass is booming on this live album and is one of the real drawcards to hearing the whole concert. 'A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers' was the first track I had heard from this amazing band that tells the story of an eyewitness who sees the unspeakable as he feels his body fading in a storm while voyaging on a doomed ship; It reminds one of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 'The Sleepwalkers' is zombies rising from their sleep to wreak terror upon the unwary; both work together as a grande guignol visceral excursion into the macabre.

Overall, this is a terrific compilation but is missing some of the indispensable VDGG tracks. I like the way it features unreleased tracks at the time and still retains some of the masterful tracks that made this band such wonderful progressive legends. There is nothing new to offer those who own the VDGG remastered CDs but still is better than the average VDGG compilations as it features all of the years to the present date of release; from debut to "Vital".

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review N 182

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 while their members were studying at Manchester University. The trio was composed by Peter Hammill (vocals and guitar), Nick Pearne (keyboards) and Chris Judge Smith (drums and wind instruments). However, soon Smith left the band, amicably, by feel superfluous on it. In 1969 Pearn was replaced by Hugh Banton. After that, the band acquired a bass player, Keith Ellis and the drummer Guy Evans joined to them too.

Some line up changes and some changes in the style and sound of the group would stabilize Van Der Graaf Generator in the beginning of the 70's. Financial difficulties in 1972 undermined the group's career and in the late of the 70's, Van Der Graaf Generator went through several exits and entrances of old and new members and the result was the split of the group. However, the classic line up of Hammill, Banton, Jackson and Evans would return in 2003.

'I Prophesy Disaster' has ten tracks. The first track 'Afterwards' was released on 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. This is a very simple and na've song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill. It's one of the best tracks on that album. The second track 'Necromancer' was released on 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. It's a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and with a good and melodic chorus. The third track 'Refugees' was released on 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'. It's the most sentimental track on that album. This is a beautiful song, very melodic and peaceful with a nice flute work. It reminds me 'Running Back', of 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. This is one of the most beautiful songs written by Hammill. The fourth track 'The Boat Of Millions Of Years' never was released on any of their albums. It was written in 1970, the time of the release of 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'. It was probably made to be part of that album. It was included later on that album, as a bonus track. This is a good song, but as a leftover, it isn't one of their best tracks. The fifth track 'Lemmings (Including Cog)' was released on 'Pawn Hearts'. It has powerful vocals with different harmonies and strange vocal passages, and musically, it has parts with extended saxophone work, keyboards and guitar passages. The track is pretty calm but contains some long musical dissonant parts. Still, is very pleasant to listen to. The sixth track 'W' was never released on any of their albums. It was written in 1971, the time of the release of 'Pawn Hearts'. It was probably made to be part of that album, as a bonus track. This is another leftover. It's a soft song with some interesting lyrics. The seventh track 'Arrow' was released on 'Godbluff'. It's the most aggressive piece on that album. Musically, it's very complex and strong, with a very aggressive vocal work by Hammill. This is a track in the vein of the classic band's repertoire. This is a track that makes the transition, between the previous musical era, ended with 'Pawn Hearts', and the new musical era started by 'Godbluff'. The eighth track 'La Rossa' was released on 'Still Life'. It's an epic tale about a desire fulfilled. This is a very powerful song, is the hardest rocking song on that album and is one of my favourite songs of the group. It's a real highlight of that album. The ninth track 'Ship Of Fools' was never released on any of their albums. It was written in 1977, the time of the release of 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome'. It was probably made to be part of that album. It was included later on that album, as a bonus track. This is the third leftover. It's a rage and angst track with heavy guitar playing. This is one of the heaviest things they ever made at the time. It's good but not very impressive. The tenth track 'Medley (Parts Of 'A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers' And 'The Sleepers)' is a medley of two different tracks from two different albums. 'A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers' was released on 'Pawn Hearts' and 'The Sleepwalkers' was released on 'Godbluff'. This medley was released on 'Vital'. This is a good track but I prefer the complete studio versions of the songs. Anyway, I'm not a great fan of 'Vital'.

Conclusion: 'I Prophesy Disaster' is a good compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator. It has songs from six of their eight studio albums, released in the 70's. The songs taken from 'The Aerosol Grey Machine', 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' and 'Pawn Hearts' are from their first musical era, 1968-1972. The songs taken from 'Godbluff', 'Still Life' and 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' are from their second musical era, 1975-1977. But, it lacks to it songs from two of those albums, one from their first era, 'H To He, Who Am The Only One', and other from their second era 'World Record'. The selection of tracks is excellent. It has the two best tracks from 'The Aerosol Grey Machine', 'Afterwards' and 'Necromancer', one of the best tracks from 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other', 'Refugees', one excellent track from 'Pawn Hearts', 'Lemmings', one of the greatest tracks from 'Godbluff', 'Arrow', and one of my favourite tracks from 'Still Life', 'La Rossa'. The tracks that never were released on any studio album from them, 'The Boat Of Millions Of Years', 'W' and 'Ship Of Fools' are all good tracks but its quality level is slightly inferior. The closing track 'Medley' is also good but I prefer the complete studio versions of the tracks, surely.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I think that this compilation is a good compilation but I am not secure that 'I Prophesy Disaster' be indicated for a newbie. Certainly this compilation present three moments of great importance: 'Refugees' that is better in this single version that in album version, 'The Boat Of Millions Of ... (read more)

Report this review (#221217) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This collects together some of the more difficult to obtain singles and tracks although most fans will probably have all this material in any case. This compilation seems to lose direction half way through and adds tracks from the end of their career to tracks from the beginning in this sense ... (read more)

Report this review (#92036) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Work announced in 1993 "I Prophesy Disaster". It is glad that the tune of the single is collected. As for "Refugees", the arrangement such as the fade Inns and magnificent strings and cembalos is different. "The Boat Of Millions Of Years" was collected to CD for the first time. Good, but non-e ... (read more)

Report this review (#47242) | Posted by braindamage | Monday, September 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My introductionary VDGG album. I recommend it highly for anyone who just wants to check out the band for possible further listening. It showcases the band well and it also has the rare "W", probably my favourite VDGG song ever (I find it similar to King Crimson's "I Talk To The Wind") ... (read more)

Report this review (#8072) | Posted by | Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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