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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Van Der Graaf Generator biography
Formed in 1967 in Manchester, UK - Hiatus from 1972 to 1975 - Disbanded in 1978 - Reunited in 2004

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR is an English eclectic progressive rock band with front man Peter HAMMILL from 'the classic period' that has proven be one of the most important bands of the progressive genre.

In England, 1967 Chris Judge SMITH formed 'VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR', but after his departure it was up to Peter HAMMILL (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Hugh BANTON (organ, bass on organ), David JACKSON (sax, flute) and Guy EVANS (drums) to become one of progressive rock most proliferate and unique bands as well as the first band to be signed to the Famous Charisma Label. The band was named after the scientific instrument 'the Van de Graaff generator', which is used for accumulating high voltage bolts. VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VdGG for short) is known for its extrovert dynamics (ranging from slow, calm & peaceful to fierce & heavy), its intense and emotional 'love it or hate it' vocals by Peter HAMMILL, its celebrated contribution to extended progressive songwriting and its combination of psychedelic, jazz, classical and avant-garde or even acid influences. Moreover, VdGG can be seen as the first band that was to combine the very progressive with the very personal, whereas other bands used to work with abstractions and fantasy. Peter HAMMILL has a talent for singing out intense graving, anger, panic and confusion whilst still being able to sing warm and caring in other passages. The band never really fitted in the symphonic progressive rock subgenre because of its widespread influences and unique style, though the band would have symphonic leanings throughout it's career. Unusual for the time was the focus on organ, drums and sax, whereas in the sixties the guitar and the bass guitar had played a major role.

The band had a leading role in the very first progressive phase releasing high-rated albums from 1970 to 1975. The strong conceptual 'H to He Who am the only one' (1970), the intense and highly innovative and daring 'Pawn Hearts' (1971), the bleak and ever evolving 'Godbluff' (1975) and the matured 'Still Life' (1976) are often cited as masterpieces of the progressive genre. Alongside VdGG there would be a very interesting solo-career for Peter HAMMILL who frequently invited members of the band to come and join on his seventies rec...
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR discography


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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.29 | 673 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.08 | 1106 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other
1970
4.32 | 1728 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.43 | 2274 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.48 | 2155 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.30 | 1575 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.83 | 810 ratings
World Record
1976
3.65 | 693 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.61 | 535 ratings
Present
2005
3.51 | 497 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.43 | 495 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.52 | 253 ratings
ALT
2012
3.56 | 194 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 283 ratings
Vital
1978
4.08 | 139 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.09 | 188 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.70 | 86 ratings
Live at the Paradiso 14:04:07
2009
3.63 | 51 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.84 | 57 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.22 | 50 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.17 | 116 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
4.27 | 15 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.18 | 29 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.27 | 11 ratings
Live Broadcasts - Collector's Rarities
2006
4.02 | 60 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
4.54 | 39 ratings
Live at Metropolis Studios
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 36 ratings
68-71
1972
3.17 | 5 ratings
Repeat Performance
1972
3.19 | 8 ratings
Reflection
1975
2.08 | 5 ratings
Rock Heavies
1978
2.41 | 61 ratings
Time Vaults
1982
3.43 | 65 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.37 | 49 ratings
Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
1986
2.12 | 41 ratings
Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans)
1988
3.30 | 54 ratings
I Prophesy Disaster
1993
3.95 | 70 ratings
The Box
2000
3.32 | 21 ratings
An Introduction
2000
3.28 | 6 ratings
First Generation / Godbluff
2012

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.57 | 18 ratings
People You Were Going To / Firebrand
1969
4.08 | 21 ratings
Afterwards / Necromancer
1969
3.83 | 30 ratings
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
1970
3.38 | 32 ratings
Theme One / W
1972
3.88 | 17 ratings
Masks Part 1 / Masks Part 2
1976
4.50 | 18 ratings
Wondering / Meurglys III
1976
4.16 | 19 ratings
Cat's Eye
1977
1.72 | 18 ratings
The Masters
1998
2.29 | 9 ratings
Highly Strung
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.48 | 2155 ratings

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Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Artik

5 stars Let me start with a statement, that I can't help myself and just have to give it 5 stars. It's one of the best prog bands of all time. And I mean a strict elite club, not even containing Pink Floyd (which I love). Hammill is absolute top vocalist of the genre, one of a kind: theatrical, passionate, maliciously angry, pompous, scary or painfuly beautiful and above all - honest and authentic. The music on this come back album is very intense, and I mean very. On these four rather epic tracks the listener can regonise the band from the previous works (the voice, sax organ and all) but it's kinda stripped down to it's bare emotional components, and I would say predominant mood here is anger. Beautifuly served anger: with shrieking voice and saxophones, with heavy sounding organ and guitar providing ominous motives, based on thundering drums and bass with ornaments from flute. Despite the intermission between the band's releases it's third masterpiece in a row of four. It started from H to He and ended on Still life. I know Godbluff for about 25 years but listening to it leaves me deeply touched, everytime. Like I said - it's a masterpiece.
 Live at the Paradiso 14:04:07 by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 2009
3.70 | 86 ratings

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Live at the Paradiso 14:04:07
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars This double CD set captures the band after they had reinvented themselves as a trio following on from the departure of David Jackson. The quartet had reformed in 2004 and recorded 'Present', yet after touring a decision was made to part company with Jackson and to instead work as a trio of Hugh Banton (organ), Guy Evans (drums) and Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar, piano). This CD captures them in their tenth show as a three-piece, having yet to release any new material, although they were trialling some music which would be recorded for 'Trisector' the following year. This meant the band had to reinvent their music, as apart from debut 'The Aerosol Grey Machine', they always had an additional melodic element either with woodwind or strings, but that was no longer the case. Part of this has been countered by Hammill becoming far more aggressive on guitar, and while they have replicated some parts normally played by Jackson, there are others where they have simply restructured the arrangements.

Opener "Lemmings" shows exactly what direction the band is going to take, while "A Place To Survive" is deliciously fractured and dynamic. Hammill, Banton and Evans started playing together in 1968, and more than 40 years later they were determined to prove that the latest iteration of VDGG were not only valid but were continuing to drive their legacy forward. There is plenty of emotion, both on stage and off, with the delicate piano introduction to "Man Erg" being one of the highlights of a tempestuous double CD set. The Paradiso is often used by progressive bands to record concerts as the crowd is always rapturous, and there is great sound quality to be had, and such is the case here. VDGG have continued as a trio to this day, having released four studio albums to date, yet at the beginning they were looking back into the classic catalogue and producing songs in a brand-new way. Essential for any fan of the band.

 Still Life by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.30 | 1575 ratings

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Still Life
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars The album "Still Life" partly consists of songs recorded during the same session as the previous one in the discography "Godbluff". Both longplays complement each other perfectly. Still Life is not so much a development and continuation of its predecessor as its opposite. The band clearly deviates from the previous style here. The exception is the composition "La Rossa" - one of the two (apart from "Pilgrims") recorded during the session "Godbluff". Well twisted, with the crazy vocals of Peter Hammill and the aggressive sound of David Jackson's saxophone, reminiscent of the heavy and dark atmosphere of the previous album.

The first track on the album is "Pilgrims", which begins calmly - with Peter's organ and vocals. There is a delicate polyphony in places. The melody is a combination of short motifs, not very much of one another. Finally, we have a saxophone solo, but it repeats the melody of the chorus and a part of the verse. "Still Life" - a calm start again, only vocals and organs. Two and a half minutes pass and the other instruments come in. We hear the organ riff. Hammill screams his games, the theme from the beginning returns. The ending is quiet singing and the piano itself. "La Rossa" - a song weird in terms of lyrics . Musically stuck together from various fragments, with a folk cutout after the sixth minute. Later, almost all the time, the vocalist does not sing, but screams. The last minute is a bit jamming instrumental madness. Thematically it is about broken relationships. "My Room (Waiting For Wonderland)" - starts calmly, with drums, bass and soprano saxophone, after a while Hammill sings a pleasant verse and shows us his vocal range. Later he repeats the same melodic theme an octave higher. We have a saxophone solo, followed by a third verse. At the end of the piece there is a longer instrumental part, in which Jackson elicits quite unusual tones from the saxophone, but always perfectly accentuating the atmosphere. "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" begins slowly with Hammill's flutes and singing. After that, we hear the main topic for the first time. The vocalist screams and the subject is mistreated with a new, contrasted part in the middle. For the first time we are dealing with the melody of the finale. It is finally followed by the coveted element of the good old VDGG.

The album differs from the previous ones mainly in terms of its pronunciation. Those were more mysterious and pessimistic, but this one seems - surprisingly - a bit optimistic and cheerful. All in all a fantastic album.

 The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.08 | 1106 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars "The Least We Can do is Wave to Each other" is practically the real debut of VDGG. In fact, the previous "The Aereosol Gray Machine" was supposed to mark Hammill's solo debut even if it contained very interesting ideas that will find full expression in the grooves of this record, almost their entire career: that is David Jackson with his legendary double sax. The sound of the group tends a lot to dark and gothic atmospheres, so much so that the music proposed can be defined as a dark variant of the progressive genre: in fact, Hammill's lyrics often tend to venture into necrophilic and horror themes, a legacy of his love for fiction.

The music becomes angry, exasperated in lyrics devoted to the apocalypse, it becomes a sonorous fury for an elite of listeners who are candidates for "dying humanity". "Darkness (11-11) " is the first great bolt from the blue, a true hymn to darkness, where wind and subterranean choirs create tense atmospheres for Banton's piano and organ. Hammil's singing, previously intimate and modest, becomes, with the entry of Jackson's effected saxophone, a furious cry while Evans' drums accompanies with epic tam-tams all supported by Nick Potter's bass. "Refugees", with strings, violins and flutes, draws us into the melancholy vortex of the soul of those on this earth who prophetically feel like a refugee and a castaway, a survivor of an imminent catastrophe. In this piece Hammil raises his song in idyllic vocalizations full of melancholy for a future, which is heard with prophetic sensitivity as already lived. Then with "White Hammer" suddenly the dismal sound of the organ returns and slowly the unwary listener understands that there is no escape, the lyrics take you back in time to the horrors of the Inquisition, the atmosphere is more gloomy than ever and not very consoling with a delirious ending supported by Jackson's sax and a black mass organ. Organ carpets, become fertile ground for the nervous raids of Jackson's hallucinated saxophone in "Watever would Robert have said?", Where the continuous contrast between electric discharges and moments of vocal emphasis, holds the piece in a very suggestive schizophrenic composition. "Out of my book" is about a certain hopelessness in interpersonal relationships, which, according to Hammill, is based on an elementary insecurity. Hammill's musical ideas are by no means dismissive. The melodies characteristic of him, which are seldom penetrated by dissonance, counteract his depressive-apocalyptic texts. "After the flood" disintegrates into noisy swirls, and then becomes syncopated free-Jazz delirium. An epic song oscillates between snarling certainty and doubtful fear and then gets lost in a chaotic sax, immersed in a chaos of abysmal echoes; while a voice filtered by the voocoder concludes the piece in an apocalyptic gash that leaves nothing behind.

The delirious and gothic "feeling", alternating with quieter and more intimate moments, has always hypnotized me, this album is a great story and is definitely one of the most important albums in rock history.

 The Aerosol Grey Machine by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.29 | 673 ratings

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The Aerosol Grey Machine
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Artik

4 stars The music of the VDGG isn't fully developed on this debut album yet but nevertheless is very strong with very prominent hints of the future not so far ahead. It's proto-prog/prog with elements of psychedelic and Peter Hammill's voice being already a trademark of their sound and quite a phenomenon even if not at his full blown powers yet. The music is ominous at times and quite powerful, as would be typical for this band on their next masterpieces. No saxophone yet. As for the year of release it's one of the most daring album of the day already firmly stearing torward prog greatness, hence 4 stars from me
 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.48 | 2155 ratings

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Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars After "H to He" and "Pawn hearts", "Godbluff" should be understood as a comeback album. However, you quickly notice that there was much more to it than just a revival of old sound and style of composing. VDGG has presented two totally different worlds on two previous albums, and the same thing is happening with this epic. The very genius of the band, especially Peter Hammil, once again delivered a masterpiece that was embodied in the very soul of the progressive rock scene.

The focal point of the album is ambiguous, existentialistic and sometimes very depressing, lyrical violence of Hammill and his associated, eccentric vocal performance. In addition to the above, the musical brilliance of the entire band is there, it sounds and feels if they didn't even take a break and every single element in the sound has been given exactly the right amount of freedom to be able to develop optimally and in a result-oriented manner. Dramatic- hopeless, aggressive , lively and cheerful, all presented in a unique way that only this band can portray.

Tremendous magic of the music and especially the extraordinarily successful interplay of the compositions make this album a true classic.

 The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.08 | 1106 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Dream_Nebula

5 stars This album came out on February 1st, 1970. I always considered this album is be very progressive for the time it came out. Not one bad song on this album. One this album you can see Van Der Graaf Generator progressing towards albums like H to He, Who Am the Only One and Pawn Hearts. All musicians play with perfection here. The lyrics on this album are also great (as usual with Van Der Graaf Generator). Just like other Van Der Graaf Generator albums, this album is dark. But not as dark as their future albums. My favorite song on the album would be After The Flood. This song is just fantastic and really does not sound it came out in February 1st 1970. The track is Refugees is also spectacular. Overall This album is a must hear for any Van Der Graaf Generator fans after they have heard H to He Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff and Still Life. Great album.

Darkness (11/11) - 4.5/5

Refugees - 5/5

White Hammer - 4.5/5

Whatever Would Robert Have Said? - 4.5/5

Out Of My Book - 4.5/5

After The Flood - 5/5

Overall - 4.5/5

 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.48 | 2155 ratings

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Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Dream_Nebula

5 stars After years of planning on listening to Van Der Graaf Generator's Godbluff I finally got along to listen to it. After giving this album multiple listens over the past week. I can assure you that this is one of the best albums ever made. There are very few bands that can capture the sound of Van Der Graaf Generator today because it is very hard to do. The musicianship on this album is just incredible. Every track on the album is pretty much perfect. This album is definitely progressive and would be a lot to handle for newcomers to progressive rock. Overall I would highly recommend this album to everyone who enjoys progressive rock.

The Undercover Man - 5/5

Scorched Earth - 5/5

Arrow - 5/5

The Sleepwalkers - 5/5

Overall - 5/5

 Pawn Hearts by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.43 | 2274 ratings

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Pawn Hearts
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars Van Der Graaf Generator will always be a band that made strange, confusing music, but in that chaos they managed to deliver perfection. After a masterpiece called H To He, Who Am The Only One from 1970, they released Pawn harts in 1971, a milestone album for the band.

A visionary leader Peter Hammill made a statement with this masterpiece trough creative style of composing music combining heavies, his own way of writing melodies (you can say disconcerting and confusing but perfect) and with lyrics that put you directly into this concept.

Pawn harts definitely represent a departure from their previous work, it's a complex and challenging album. Progressive, complicated, and disharmonic these tree epics definitely give you a true meaning of progressive rock genre. Dark, insane, mysterious and dramatic music and themes give it that heaviness and overall it's one of the best albums ever written, it truly is music for your brain.

 H To He, Who Am The Only One by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.32 | 1728 ratings

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H To He, Who Am The Only One
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars VDGG released their third album in 1970 called H To He, Who Am The Only One which features five tracks and my favourite album from the band.

The album tells dark and horror stories starting with Killers saxophone driven opener which kicks off the album to a fantastic start with its masterful instrumental passages which tells the story about murderous fish.

House With No Door is a ballad of the album and it features great flute and piano pieces and it gives a real jazzy feeling.

The Emperor In His War-Room is a two part song and my favourite one. It starts as a slow downbeat tempo, then becomes a exploding eclectic tune with jazz madness and a out of this world sax solo, keyboard technqiues, and Nic Potter's bass lines which go trough out this album.

Lost and Pioneers Over C. continued masterful compositions and beautiful madness that this album delivers.

VDGG with this masterpiece gave a new meaning to vocal preformance, lyrics writing and strange, mad but fantastic new way of composing music.

Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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