Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.29 | 1584 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars After Godbluff, could VDGG strike hard again ? Well, let's hear.

As "Godbluff", I purchased it at the time of release. During these ancient times,VDGG was one of my beloved band (I still come back regularly to them, especially with this one).

IMO, it is their second masterpiece in a row. And probably their best record ever.

The title track, as opener, is a brilliant song : good keys, discreet sax and omni- presence of the smooth vocals from Peter : "What have we bargained and what have we lost ? Unlike "Undercover Man", this one is not a crescendo song. It switches straight form light to hard. From the most subtle VDGG moments to the strongest one : great keys and sax. How fabulous is Jackson again.

I can only be disappointed that I will soon see VDGG again after an enormous break in my life (just over thirty years) but without Jackson...(he will not be touring with the band in 2007). Banton is also great during the instrumental break. The "finale" is full of emotion, with Peter almost alone in command (but he is used to this). This is one of my Van Der Graaf all time fave (together with "Refugees" as you might know).

Next is : "Pilgrims" : a fresh, very emotional song full of hope; a bit like "Refugees". I quote : "I've been waiting for such a long time just to see it at last, all of the hands tightly clasped, all of us pilgrims". This quiet song for most of its duration ends in a torrid sax solo with great backings from the band. Superb. I have to admit that VDGG second generation pleases me a lot. Better than "Mark I". Their repertoire turned from quite obscure, frightening, extremely difficult to perceive into an almost light and accessible music (for VDGG standards of course).

"Pilgrims" is a marvelous song. IMO it is probably to best one of their whole career (only equalled by "Refugees"). It is amazing to notice how close they are in their atmosphere but at the same time quite far from each other in terms of release. Thank you guys to delivered such a great piece of music again.

"La Rossa" 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.

"My Room" is the darkest one on "Still Life". Quite desperate lyrics : "My lungs burst to cry: - Finally, how could you leave me here to die ? I freeze in the chill of this place with no friendly face to smile goodbye - How could you let it happen?" Brrrr.

I guess you should not listen to this song if you are in a depressing mode to avoid commiting suicide. Very slow tempo all the way long (the atmosphere of this song is pretty close to the one of the album "Berlin" from Lou Reed).

I would say, typical Hammill lyrics ("Necromancer" style). Scary, bizarre but oh ! so passionate ! Slow, very slow tempo all the way through. If you want to get the shivers on a tropical holiday, put this song on your MP3 player to cool down. Guaranteed. The whole song is harmonious. It has the (very) dark side of their first generation but with no "weird" intrumental passages. So, even if "My Room" is rather morbid, it is another great song.

The closing number "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" combines the best of both VDGG worlds : wonderful melancholic tone (typical of this album), Peter is again very passionate in his rendition, Jackson is absolutely "grand" in the backing sax. But really the whole band (including Evans and Banton of course) is really on par. This wonderful song closes the original vinyll album in such a wonderful way. Fabulous. Another highlight.

So, it seems that it's the fifth highlight so far. And it's the last track. Out of five !

The remastered CD version proposes a live bonus track "Gog" which is rather poorly recorded (specially the vocal parts : Hammill is more eructing/shouting his text than singing it). Not an essential track at all (unless you are a collectionist of their work, like I am) to get this remastered version. Since it is their most accessible album, I would strongly recommend it as an entry one if you are new to VDGG. So, yes. VDGG stroke hard. Definitely! Five stars.

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password


Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.