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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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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A four-year hiatus removed VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR from of the front ranks of progressive rock, but this album returned them to prog rockers' consciousness, many relieved the band had reformed and had managed to stitch something credible together. In my view this is a solid rather than a remarkable album: gone is the over-the-top extravagance that endeared 'Pawn Hearts' to so many adventurous listeners. In its place is a tightly focussed band, far more competent musically, but at the cost of their point of difference, their crazy soul. Exactly the same tendency is exhibited in the lyrics, where the abundance of metaphor (sharks, lighthouse keepers, killers, lemmings) is abandoned in favour of standard prose.

For both these reasons I find this period of VDGG's output, while extremely accomplished, far less satisfying. 'The Undercover Man' underwhelms, there is nothing scorching about 'The Scorched Earth', and 'Arrow' misses its mark, despite an excellent opening freeform section and some creative singing. Only during 'The Sleepwalkers' does the album awake, if only briefly. Much of the music here is subtle, particularly on the first side. VDGG doing subtlety? Fine - but I miss the raw intensity. Four excellent tracks adorn 'Godbluff', but I have never been able to shake the feeling of disappointment when listening to this album. And certainly it did not drag progressive rock in new and darker directions, as can be said for VDGG's early career.

These four gemstones are polished, but they are only semi-precious. Worth listening to, but not a patch on 'Pawn Hearts', which is all diamond, though some of it is rough.

russellk | 3/5 |


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