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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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4 stars What a comeback! It was as if VDGG had never been away. And of course, in a way, they hadn't. The group broke up in 1971, only for Peter Hammill to be joined quite frequently on his solo albums by the other three VDGG stalwarts, David Jackson, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans. The lads eventually decided to reform and made up for "wasting" some of their best years together with this excellent album. The second coming of VDGG may have eventually petered out but every one of the four songs on Godbluff was an important addition to the band's canon.

From its humble origins, The Undercover Man erupts into another one of the haunting, desolate VDGG ballads, with Jackson's fluttering flute and Banton's (ahem) enormous organ defining the sound while a certain Mr. Hammill wails and rails away as only he can. The song eventually becomes a monstrous rocker that sounds like the conclusion of some amazing rock opera ... except that in the case of Godbluff, the fun is just beginning.

As The Undercover Man fades away, a new monster announces itself ... Scorched Earth is a rampaging tune, with Evans let off his leash. Halfway through this discordant angry track, a steady riff establishes itself allowing Jackson and Banton to really cut loose too.

Arrow is a more basic beast that starts off with a bit of a psych jam before evolving into one of the most beautiful, sparse and haunting bits of music VDGG ever recorded (no mean feat, I can tell you!). For the most part of this lovely song, Hammill's vicious vocals are at odds with the pastoral playing of his colleagues. When the band finally breaks its restraint at around the 5:30 mark, the great riffs floating around the song convalese into a engrossing whole.

The concluding anthem The Sleepwalkers is yet another stimulating work that's initially tied to a darting medieval melody played by jackson on flute. When, on the 1:30 minute mark, the melody re-emerges with Hammill sings a verse, it really takes my breath away. Then takes a number of strange journeys, with snatches of music hall, jazz and bossa nova, finally settling down into a breezy riff, which Jackson gradually takes over. Hammill then returns while the original flute melody is hinted at. I admit that I love that melody so much that I think VDGG underuse it, but it's hard to argue with such daring composers.

One is tempted to think that Godbluff gets such rave reviews because VDGG fans were so relieved that the band hadn't lost it, but I do really think this is one of the band's finest acheivements. ... 83% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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