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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1998 ratings

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5 stars The fifth album from Van der Graaf Generator called Godbluff swept my feet away. I have been listening to and reviewing the first four album from Van der Graaf Generator during the last half year and except for Pawn Hearts I wasnīt that impressed. I gave the first three albums 3 stars and Pawn Hearts 4 stars, but after listening to Godbluff Iīm sure there must be something I have missed during my listening sessions of those first four albums because Godbluff is a sure masterpiece in my book. Itīs very seldom that I after the first time of listening to an album knows that Iīm gonna give that album 5 stars but it happened with Godbluff. Iīve been listening with disbelief since that first listening session as this album just gets better and better. As a consequence of this awakening I will go back and listen to those first four albums again and make new reviews if neccessary.

The first four albums were all released in the early seventies and after the tour for Pawn Hearts the band was fed up with each other and the record industry. As Peter Hammill says in the booklet to Godbluff: There were made lots of money but the band didnīt see any of them. Does that sound familiar ? Many bands in the sixties and seventies were cheated and never really made money of their hard work which is such a shame, but I guess you have to be an asshole to be a financial manager. The relationship between the members of the band were really bad on the tour for Pawn Hearts and the band members ended up driving in different cars between shows, which says it all. After the tour Peter Hammill told the other members of the band that he would quit and pursue a fulltime solo career. Peter Hammill made a lot of solo albums in the following years but still kept in contact with the other members of Van der Graaf Generator and they also on occasion joined Peter Hammill on stage. So the inevitable happened in 1975: Van der Graaf Generator was reunited and they started writing new material and touring to see how the audience would react to the new songs. After they had played the songs live for a while they went into the studio and recorded what was to become Godbluff ( and actually also some of the songs on Still Life).

The direction of the music has changed a bit since the first era of Van der Graaf Generatorīs career. They have always been a very heavy and dark band but with Godbluff you can include anger and despair. This is so far the darkest album I have heard from the seventies. It makes Red by King Crimson sound light in comparison. To a metal head like myself I can hear lots of the ideas from Godbluff in heavy metal and especially Peter Hammillīs theatrical paatos must have inspired a young Rob Halford ( Judas Priest). Godbluff is not heavy metal by any means though, so donīt let the above mentioned comparisons scare you away. This is seventies prog rock, but with a dark and angry twist.

The album consists of four songs which lasts from 7 - 10 minutes. The Undercover Man starts the album and itīs probably the song from Godbluff that reminds me the most of the first era Van der Graaf Generator. Itīs a really beautiful song which starts subtle and ends in a climax. Scorched Earth is where the aggressive playing and singing starts. This song is so dark and aggresssive that I am just blown back in my seat and the same can be said about Arrow. Peter Hammill uses his voice to the limit on those two songs. The Sleepwalkers ends the album and itīs a bit different and melodic when you compare it to the last two songs. Beautiful is all I can say.

The musicianship is beyond outstanding on Godbluff. The performance these four musicians put on is inspired beyond my wildest expectations. They all shine equally. Peter Hammill with his theatrical approach to singing, Hugh Bantonīs omnipresent organ, piano and bass pedal playing, Guy Evanīs diverse drumming and last but not least David Jacksonīs sax and flute playing which serves as lead and solo instruments most of the time. I promise you that you will enjoy the interplay between these musicians even if you donīt like the music ( shame on you).

The sound quality is definitely worth a mention too as it is one of the best seventies productions I have heard.

I canīt get my arms down. Iīm so happy that I gave Godbluff a chance as it has changed my view on Van der Graaf Generator. Now I understand the praises they get on Prog Archives. This is a sure 5 star album and so far one of the best albums I have heard from the seventies. This is essential stuff donīt let this pass you by.

UMUR | 5/5 |


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