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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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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Not my cup of tea, but the music is outstanding

I must be honest, after listening the first disappointing VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR albums,, decided to give "Pawn Hearts" a chance, but even when I found it slightly better than the previous, it was only slightly above the average in my opinion.

After all this failed attempts to like VDGG, when "Godbluff" was released, I wasn't ready to listen it with impartiality due to my prejudice about the band, so bought it, heard it several times (with little emotion) and send it to the box of albums that didn't planned to listen in the rest of my life, where kept gathering dust for a couple of decades.

But last week there was a thread in the ProgArchives Forum asking us to compare this album with the GENESIS masterpiece "Nursery Cryme", my reaction was to vote immediately for the GENESIS album, but after a short debate, decided to give "Godbluff" a new chance, so after several hours re-listening the album, here I am trying to review it.

The album is opened with "Undercover Man"and after a good dramatic soft vocal and keyboard intro, the band manages to wake my curiosity and keep my attention. My first impression is that I'm listening "David Bowie" singing something from his second album, not only because the amazing similarity between David and Peter Hammill's vocal range, but also a more than casual similarity with the "Space Oddity" track.

But lets be honest the structure and performance is impeccable, the song goes constantly "in crescendo" generating expectation in the listener, with radical changes and an impressive keyboard performance by Hugh Banton in the organ. The vocal work is good, (hey I like Bowie) but excessively derivative in the vocal part despite the excellent lyrics. I believe it's a solid track to open the album, by this point, I'm far more interested than I ever was before in any track by the band.

In "Scorched Earth" seems as we were before another vocalist, even when the range can't change too much, the style is clearly original and unique, sadly the song is not remotely as strong as the previous one, I believe "Hammill" and company decide to forget the melody in order to experiment more. Still the complex choral arrangements are simply amazing, unlike GENTLE GIANT, this guys have perfect control over the dissonances. A bit to over elaborate for my taste, but still good, and again Banton proves how good he is.

"Arrow" begins with a jazzy drumming section that starts to morph into something extremely complex and very imaginative and frenetic, but around 1:37 minutes, the change is really dramatic. The music is incredibly mysterious and haunting (as I like) and the progression is just impressive. The guitar work and flute by Peter and Jackson are the stars of the song and the strong vocals are just breathtaking. From this moment the song doesn't change too much and the finale would be much better if they would not had used saxophone that seems out of place. But again a very solid track.

The original version of "Godbluff" (ends with the outstanding "The Sleepwalkers", some sort of Medieval Jazz fusion, but after the first vocal section, you can expect almost anything, from Heavy Rock to elaborate Prog and Jazz. The best track I ever heard by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR.

My version has two extra songs, but as everybody who knows me, I only review an album according to the original version, being that this is the way the authors created it.

When I rate an album like "Godbluff", I always have the same problem. From the start I knew the only really fair rating would be 3.5 stars, but being this impossible in our system, I have to choose between 3 and 4 stars.

In this case I was almost decided to go with 3, but after listening "The Sleepwalkers" and even when I still believe 3.5 is the most accurate rating, I had to go with 4 stars,. because despite the fact that i'm not a fan of the band at all, the album is extremely solid.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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