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Van Der Graaf Generator - World Record CD (album) cover

WORLD RECORD

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.82 | 706 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars VDGG was a very prolific band in those days : three albums in less than two years (previous two being masterpieces IMO); so can they go on like this ? My answer is that although it is a good album, it is pretty much sub-par to "Godbluff" and "Still Life".

The opener "When She Comes" is a clone of "Sleepwalkers" but not as strong as the original. Weird atmosphere, this track combines Peter's emotional voice and the strenght of the band (Jackson being again in great shape - as usual I should say). It is the best track of side one and probably of the whole. Peter seems to have some problems though with his voice during the finale (starting around minute six). The track ends up in a chaotic maelstrom of great sax and keys. I really like this song.

"A Place to Survive" is a standard VDGG track : more related to their first generation output, though. This long track (over ten minutes) intends to recreate some of their previous highlights but rather fails. No harmony, no feeling. The instrumental last part sounds more to a jam than anything else. "Masks" starts promising with a slow pace and melodious sax intro (sounds a bit like "Us & Them" for a minute). Peter's vocal part is better than on the two previous track. The instrumental middle part is quite jazzy and the finale is again very good : this is a VDGG trademark. Full of emotion. A good track.

B side starts with their second epic : "A Plague ... "being the first one. Almost 21 minutes. Aside the lenght, this track has little to do with its predecessor : it is more accessible and more melodious at times, more consistent and less unrestrained but still complex enough to make this one a true VDDG song like we like. The off-beat rythm is rather catchy.

After a very good intro, there is a very quite passage in which one can hardly hear the vocals and the instruments. Next instrumental part, is again a bit similar to the Floyd sound and turns then into a kind of Spanish inspired tempo : bizarre but interesting combination. After this break, the traditional VDGG sound comes back for a while : torrid Jackson, Banton and Evans before a last vocal intervention full of subtlety.

VDGG will also surprise their fans with the inclusion of a quite lenghty (over seven minutes) instrumental and repetitive reggae section at the end. Lots of bands will be influenced by this music in those days : reggae was really booming since 1976 (at least in Europe). But when 10 CC does it is quite alright. I'm not too much convinced that VDGG needed that (definitely not that long).

All in all this track is good and various (but could be reduced to fifteen minutes) but lacks probably of true great emotional moments (like we had on "A Plague ..."). Vocal moments are also shorter than what they used to be, so the band can expand more its instrumental side and kind of jamming (Hammill joining at the end to play the guitar). I agree with my fellow countryman - Belgian - Hughes Chantraine (I will stick to his first name) about the very good cover version from Germinale in 1995 (on "E Il Suo Respiro Ancora Agitata le Onde" - this album being a very good one in its entirety, but this is another story). Actually I even prefer their version than the original : it is cut from the unnecessary parts and the Italian flavour added to their rendition has more feeling and emotion.

The album closes with the shortest song (still over 6'30") : "Wondering". It is a very nice ballad, full of lyricism and melody, a bit mellowish though (some orchestrations do not really deserves this track). A good closing number.

It seems that the steam has lost power, but honestly I admit that it pretty impossible to write three studio masterpieces in less than two years. Seven out of ten would be the most accurate rating. I will downgrade it to three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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