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Van Der Graaf Generator

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Van Der Graaf Generator 68-71 album cover
3.61 | 41 ratings | 7 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Afterwards (4:56)
2. The Boat of Millions of Years (3:49)
3. Whatever Would Robert Have Said? (6:03)
4. Lost (10:27)
5. Necromancer (3:36)
6. Refugees (6:18)
7. Darkness (11/11) (7:24)
8. Killer (8:16)

Total Time 50:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano (6)
- Hugh Banton / piano, organs, percussion (1,5), oscillator (4,8), backing vocals
- Keith Ellis / wah-wah bass (1,5), backing vocals (1,5)
- David Jackson / saxophones, flute, Fx (4,8), backing vocals (2,3,4,6,7,8)
- Nic Potter / bass (2,3,4,6,7,8), electric guitar (2,3,6,7)
- Guy Evans / drums & percussion, timpani (4,8)

Releases information

LP Charisma - 6393 901 (Germany, 1972)
LP Fontana - 9286 002 (Germany, 1975) re-titled "Reflection", new cover art

From the albums:
- The Aerosol Grey Machine (1,5)
- The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (2,3,6,7)
- H to He, Who Am the Only One (4,8)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Prog Network & projeKct for the last updates
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR 68-71 ratings distribution

(41 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I totally agree with Steve's review on this. This was my first VdGG experience and I would recommend to all uninitiated to get the same path. Thereafter you can go to explore "Aerosol", "Least We Can" and "H to He" in that order. Excellent introduction to this unique band, plus containing single-only "Boat of Millions of Years".
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This compilation gives an insight of the early days of this great band.

Two songs from their first album (which will take some time to be released in Europe) : "Afterwards" and "Necromancer" : two good songs but not the best ones from this work (I think "Running Black" and "Aquarian" would have fit better).

Half of this compilation comes from "The Least..." which is fine (although I would have like to see "After The Flood" instead of "Whatever ...". "The Boat..." is a left over from the studio sessions. It is not a bad song (but still is a leftover...). It will be released as B-side of the single "Refugees". "Refugees" is for me, the best song from VDGG (first era), so I can only be happy it sits here.

"Killer" and "Lost" are two great numbers from "H To He". No discussion about that (although The Emperor...). I am not quite sure that this first compilation is very useful nowadays. Maybe at the time of release for songs that were not available but in the meantime "The Aerosol" can easily be found (see my review for this album for more info) and "The Boat" will appear on the remastered version of "The Least...).

Three stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Hair raising stuff

This was my introduction to the strange world of Van Der Graaf Generator. Released in 1972, the album retailed at a budget price, purporting to represent the best of the band up until that point. The tracks selected are taken from the first three albums, but not the 1971 album "Pawn Hearts".

What I particularly like about this collection is the fact that it was compiled by the band. At the time of it's release, VDGG's first album "The aerosol grey machine" had not been released in the UK due to contractual issues. It would eventually appear in 1973, after Hammill had negotiated himself out of the contact he had entered alone. The two tracks from it included here, "Afterwards" and "Necromancer", were therefore rarities as far as UK fans were concerned. Early US versions of the first album omitted "Necromancer", replacing it with "Giant squid". The other rarity here is "Boat of a million years", which originally appeared only as the B side of a single version of "Refugees".

Almost half of each the "H to He. . ." and "The least we can do. . ." albums is here, the total running time of almost 51 minutes making for excellent value for an LP. While the band were never considered to be commercial, it is admirable to find a feast of long tracks included, even the single "Theme one" is overlooked.

As a collection, this album works well on two levels. It offers a superb introduction to this unique group and it stands as a coherent and enjoyable experience in its own right. If only all compilations were put together this well!

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review N 164

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967, by Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith, at Manchester University, but was settled in London. On arrival at London, Hammill and Smith met up the classically trained keyboardist Hugh Banton, who was a brother of one of their friends in Manchester. Later, the bass guitar player, Keith Ellis and the drummer Guy Evans joined them. However, soon Smith left the band, amicably. He felt his presence superfluous.

In 1969, they recorded their debut album "The Aerosol Grey Machine". It was intended to be the debut album of Hammill. After the release of the album, Ellis decided to leave off and was replaced by Nic Potter. Shortly, saxophonist and flautist David Jackson was invited by Hammill to join them. With that new line up, a new sound was established by the band, leaving beyond a more psychedelic musical influence of "The Aerosol Grey Machine" in favour of a more darker and complex musical textures. It was in that context, that the group released their second album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", in 1970. In the same year, the band recorded their third album, "H To He, Who Am The Only One". However, during the recording sessions of the album, Potter quit the band. So, the quartet composed by Hammill, Banton, Jackson and Evans, became on what is now considered the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's line up.

"68-71" is a compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1972. It includes eight tracks released on their first three albums. So, it comprises songs from "The Aerosol Grey Machine", "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other" and "H To He, Who Am The Only One". The first track "Afterwards" was released on "The Aerosol Grey Machine". This is a very simple and nave song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill. It's one of the best tracks on that album. The second track "The Boat Of The Millions Of Years" was never released on any studio album of them. It was written in 1970, the time when they released "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It was probably made to be part of that album but it was only included later on the album, as a bonus track. It was released as the B side of the single "Refugees". This isn't a bad song, but as a leftover, it doesn't represent one of their best moments. Still, it represents a rarity. The third track "Whatever Would Robert Have Said?" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's a good track with different passages and different rhythms. This is one of the most progressive tracks of that album. Still, it isn't as good as some other tracks. So, it isn't one of my favourite songs. The fourth track "Lost" was released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". This is a brilliant track. It's a song about loneliness, lost, love and madness, and it has also very good lyrics. There is a lot of variety in this piece. "Lost" is one of the most depressing pieces ever written by Hammill. The fifth track "Necromancer" was released on "The Aerosol Grey Machine". It's a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and with a good and melodic chorus. I think this is another interesting song. The sixth track "Refugees" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It represents the most sentimental moment on that album. This is a very beautiful song, very melodic and peaceful with a nice flute work by Jackson. It's a song that reminds me very much "Running Back", the third track of their debut album "The Aerosol Grey Machine". This is one of the most beautiful songs ever written by Hammill. The seventh track "Darkness" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's a great opener for that album and is also one of its best tracks. This is a song dominated by the continued presence of the keyboards of Banton and by a very good and strong bass line. It's the song where we can hear, for the first time, the incredible and unique sound of the saxophones of Jackson. The eighth track "Killer" was released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". It's a catchy and beautiful dark song. The saxophones of Jackson and the organ of Banton are present continuously and are very well supported by a brilliant rhythm section by Potter and Evans. This is one of my favourite songs of them. It shows the great atmosphere so typical of their sound.

Conclusion: "68-71" is a good compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator and a great window to their first musical years. It has songs from their first three studio albums that belong to their first musical era, from 1968-1972. However, it lacks to it songs from their fourth and best studio album "Pawn Hearts", released in 1971. The selection of the tracks is excellent and irreproachable. It has the two best tracks from "The Aerosol Grey Machine", "Afterwards" and "Necromancer", three of the best tracks from "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", "Whatever Would Robert Have Said?", and especially "Refugees" and "Darkness" and two excellent tracks from "H To He, Who Am The Only One", "Lost" and "Killer". Although, all the tracks on "H To He, Who Am The Only One", could be part of this compilation, because all are great. The only track with inferior quality is "The Boat Of The Millions Of Years". It's true that it's a good track, but it's inferior to the others. The final result is a good compilation but not an essential purchase.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I was always very fond of this compilation. For many years it was impossible to find a copy of aerosol gray machine in the UK, so this was the only place you could find the Necromancer and Afterwords both excellent tracks. The boat of millions of years was also on the surprisingly rare and even ... (read more)

Report this review (#146711) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Well, I don't know about this one. I never liked compilations especially when it comes to progressive rock. This one includes songs from the first three Van Der Graaf studio albums. All tracks are brilliant but why not get the actual albums? I really think you'll get a much better idea since t ... (read more)

Report this review (#103427) | Posted by sularetal | Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Friends, Owning most VDGG albums and having first seen the band in the early seventies when their tour-de-force sound was as mesmeric as Tangerine Dream's "cathedral" gigs in the UK around that time, I would recommend this album, "as a taster", to anyone contemplating a first-time experienc ... (read more)

Report this review (#7900) | Posted by | Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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