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Van Der Graaf Generator - Present CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.61 | 497 ratings

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Peter Pan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The music of Peter Hammill has accompanied me for nearly 30 years now, published solo or in various combinations with VDGG, The K Group, The Noise. Noone other has influenced me quite as deep as this extraordinary artist with his music and with his lyrics of high literature quality. With the exception of a few compilations and one or two live recordings I own and know every published album.

With Peter Hammill's solo albums there have always been some weaker ones. Is it a wonder for a time of 35 years? There are some albums I listen to over and over again for literally decades like "The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage" (1972), "Over" (1976) and amongst the newer ones "Fireships" (1991) or "X my Heart" (1996). And some I hear once or twice and keep them in the shelve for the next 10 years until I try again.

Over all in my opinion no other contemporary pop artist offers this deepness and complexity in his music and words. The vocals are still unreached.

The various band releases after VDGG also had different quality. In my opinion "Present" doesn't belong to the best VDGG albums. It's interesting but not overwhelming. I miss the typical PH-like melody lines in most of the tunes. Some of the songs even of CD 1 have improvisation like charakter like the whole CD 2. Two exceptions: "Every Bloody Emperor" and the excellent "Nutter Alert" which alone are worth the purchase. The dramatic "Nutter Alert" is the more breathtaking the more I listen to it. Hugh Banton plays the distorted organ in the old Canterbury style like I haven't heard it for a long time. Will be an all-time VDGG classic. [In the reunion concert on 6th May 2005 these two songs - and only these two new songs - were part of the new VDGG playlist.]

My advice is to purchase and compare PH's last solo album "Incoherence" (recorded 2003, published 2004) which I like much better with its high musicality, its compactness and inner unity. Topic and melody line of "Emperor" are lent from "Incoherence". Once again a great cover and booklet design by Paul Rideout.

Peter Pan | 3/5 |


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