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Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.09 | 182 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The classic VdGG quartet line-up (Banton-Evans-Hammill-Jackson) never got to release a live album during their peak in the 1970s. Instead, we got "Vital", which represented a quite different group (VdG) with different sound (exit organ and saxes, enter violin and electric guitars, especially bass). So, almost 30 years after their break-up, the quartet finally releases a live recording of their entire opening night of the tour promoting their comeback studio effort "Present". An exciting and nostalgic event for sure, the one their fans were impatiently waiting for all these years, and in the hindsight, given that the band would soon to be truncated to a trio, this was probably "the moment" in history to be preserved and cherished, perhaps never to be repeated again.

Performance is excellent, no doubt, despite the fact that they probably sounded much better later on as the tour rolled on. Yet, there is a noticeable weakness in Hammill's voice, due to recent surgery, particularly on older material such as "Refugees" and "Killer" where he struggles unsuccessfully to reach higher notes. Also, Jaxon's sax sounds as if loosing compass on the latter song and seems to improvise too much throughout the album. But, these are minor complaints. The album as a whole shows the band in a strong instrumental mood while Hammill often engaged in a emotions-filled dialogue with the audience during breaks.

The setlist includes well-known songs from their best studio albums (the focus seems to be on "Godbluff" and "Pawn Hearts") from the past, as well as two highlights taken off "Present" album - "Every Bloody Emperor" and "Nutter Alert", the former already being established as a Graaf classic song, in par with their best moments from the past. And "In the Black Room" finally gets to be recorded and released on a VdGG album, having appeared only on the 1973 Hammill's solo record "Chameleon in the Shadow of Night", but being recorded by full band (including Nic Potter on bass!) for a post-Pawn Hearts VdGG album that never was. In short, a historic recording of the "classic quartet" line-up, responsible for creating some of the best, the darkest, the wildest and the most daring music of the entire "prog" scene and beyond!

Seyo | 4/5 |


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