Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Van Der Graaf Generator

Eclectic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Van Der Graaf Generator World Record album cover
3.83 | 903 ratings | 50 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. When She Comes (7:58)
2. A Place to Survive (10:00)
3. Masks (6:55)
4. Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild (20:47)
5. Wondering (6:33)

Total Time: 52:13

Bonus tracks on 2005 Charisma remaster:
6. When She Comes (Live) (8:10) *
7. Masks (Live) (7:24) *

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Hammill / vocals, guitar, piano
- Hugh Banton / organs, bass pedals, Mellotron
- David Jackson / alto, tenor & soprano saxes, flute
- Guy Evans / drums, cymbal, percussion

Releases information

ArtWork: A.D. Design with Frank Sansom (Art direction)

LP Charisma - CAS 1120 (1976, UK)

CD Charisma - CASCD 1120 (1988, UK)
CD Charisma - CASCDR 1120 (2005, UK) Remastered by P. Hammill w/ 2 bonus tracks recorded for the John Peel Show - BBC Radio One, November 1976

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry


VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR World Record ratings distribution

(903 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR World Record reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
3 stars The first 3 tracks are pretty strong, but after that it starts to unravel.

"Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)" would've benefitted from some MAJOR editing. The long reggae jam was NOT a good idea as it lapses into tedium very quickly, plus, Hammill should've never been allowed anywhere near an electric guitar (his lead playing is just AWFUL!). "Wondering" isn't bad, but really great either.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 Stars really!!!

After two quickly succeeding masterpieces, VdGG went back in the studio, but this time, they would actually deny the "Never two without three" saying and head for the "Two out of three ain't bad". While still a worthy Graaf album, World Record (with a stunning artwork again on a single sleeve) is clearly a step away from the right direction.

Clearly (and quite unfortunately), it appears that Graaf's inventivity and inspiration had come to the end, and the quartet will once again go their separate ways after this album. The first side of the vinyl is filled with rather short tracks, none of which would've made the cut on the previous albums, but in no way are they fillers, I insist! Just tracks that fail to have as good ideas as before, like if all of them ideas had been used on the previous two albums.

However, on the second side of the vinyl, there stands a monster track Meurglys III (Hammill's guitar spirit) with an incredible descending crescendo, and clearly the highlight of the album. However, the track does overstay its welcome a bit too much as the reggae jam is simply a bit too long and highlights Hammill's (relative) weakness as an electric guitar player, but overall, if this track had been shorter by five minutes, it might have a been Graaf's crowning achievement (with Lighthouse). Please note Italian group Germinale will record an astounding cover, but more succinct) on their second album.

Still a typical VdGG album, just not as strong as the previous five albums, every with will still find this album a must-have. Unfortunately, the group will implode (due mostly to exhaustion), leaving Hammill to suppress the Generator part of their name and find old mate, Potter, keeping Evans and and enlisting Smith on violin, for a drastically different sound. But this isz anot§her story

Review by loserboy
4 stars The mid 70's era VAN DER GRAAF is my personal favourite and "World Record" is a clear mark of genuis from this dark progressive rock band. "World Record" is the third in the trilogy of 1975/1976 "come-back" VDGG albums (following both "Godbluff" and "Still Life") and still contains the classic line-up of HAMMILL-Banton-Evans-Jackson. Again this album is full of dark and deep melodies as told thru the slightly clogged vocals of Peter HAMMILL. The centerpiece of the album is the epic Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild) which stands today as stil one of my most beloved VDGG tracks. All tracks are great and I think HAMMILL's vocals are likely at his best here with even some electric guitar playing !. Some of the melodies on this album are the best they have recorded including the emotional track "Wondering" which concludes this album. I guess at 52 Mins and for vinyl this was a longer play... and well worth it... as I said a mark of genius.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars World Record completed the last trio of the 'classic' Van Der Graaf Generator albums from the 70's although it's not quite up to pair with Pawn Hearts or Godbluff but still very good nevertheless. Musically, it continues the style that Godbluff and Still Life had though perhaps a bit more hit'n'miss unfortunately, but it's rarely boring and it contains several wonderful and typical VDGG hooks. Solid performance both technically and compositionally with the "Meurglys III" suite being a standout here despite it's reggae jam ending wich is not bad at all, just a bit out of place here. If you like either Godbluff or Still Life then pick this one up! 4/5
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record sounds a bit like "Godbluff", with the always VERY, VERY, VERY irritating voice of Peter Hamill: he just kills the music with his monolithic, too loud & angry voice. This record reminds me Jethro Tull circa "Passsion Play" and Gentle Giant circa "Three friends". "Meurglys 3" is very long, maybe too long (20 minutes), but it contains some interesting prog-jazz parts. Many sax parts are well played too, although sometimes irritating. The record ends with the good "Wondering" song, which is among the best VDGG's tracks. The keyboards mainly consist in organ, piano and rare mellotron parts. I prefer "Godbluff".
Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars What happened?

That's what I'd like to know. For all the detractors out there against VDGG, this is the one album I would point to and say, rip this one all you want. Hammill's guitar overdrive and style are questionable at best and the sax and organ have almost no connection and intriguing interplay as found on previous albums.

When She comes somewhat reminds me of Gentle Giant and a tune I might hear on Acquiring the Taste. Some of the organ choices are nice hear and it's already clearly a step down from Still Life or Godbluff, not too bad. Unfortunately, it would get worse.

The awful guitar tone comes into place on A Place to Survive, which I suppose attempts to be exotic and chaotic like some of King Crimson's material, but only serves to be a big mess. Hammill should leave the guitar playing to someone else, or at least find a better tone.

Masks is more guitar I can't stand, an error that might easily be fixed by having the traditional VDGG sax used instead, but I suppose the band wanted to branch out, however this was a branch that was doomed to fall off.

The Songwriters Guild is a dense piece of music that is too artsy. Some parts fit in well, and it has a reggae quality to most of the middle section through to the end, although this could have easily been cut in half and we would have a much more cohesive and enjoyable song. It's fairly clear here that Hammill is really unsure of himself with the guitar.

By the time I get to Wondering, I'm wondering why I have this album. I love VDGG, but this just doesn't do it. The track itself is actually fairly majestic, and might fit well as the ending to a fantasy movie. It's really a fantasy if I'm to put this album alongside the ranks of other classic VDGG works.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars VDGG was a very prolific band in those days : three albums in less than two years (previous two being masterpieces IMO); so can they go on like this ? My answer is that although it is a good album, it is pretty much sub-par to "Godbluff" and "Still Life".

The opener "When She Comes" is a clone of "Sleepwalkers" but not as strong as the original. Weird atmosphere, this track combines Peter's emotional voice and the strenght of the band (Jackson being again in great shape - as usual I should say). It is the best track of side one and probably of the whole. Peter seems to have some problems though with his voice during the finale (starting around minute six). The track ends up in a chaotic maelstrom of great sax and keys. I really like this song.

"A Place to Survive" is a standard VDGG track : more related to their first generation output, though. This long track (over ten minutes) intends to recreate some of their previous highlights but rather fails. No harmony, no feeling. The instrumental last part sounds more to a jam than anything else. "Masks" starts promising with a slow pace and melodious sax intro (sounds a bit like "Us & Them" for a minute). Peter's vocal part is better than on the two previous track. The instrumental middle part is quite jazzy and the finale is again very good : this is a VDGG trademark. Full of emotion. A good track.

B side starts with their second epic : "A Plague ... "being the first one. Almost 21 minutes. Aside the lenght, this track has little to do with its predecessor : it is more accessible and more melodious at times, more consistent and less unrestrained but still complex enough to make this one a true VDDG song like we like. The off-beat rythm is rather catchy.

After a very good intro, there is a very quite passage in which one can hardly hear the vocals and the instruments. Next instrumental part, is again a bit similar to the Floyd sound and turns then into a kind of Spanish inspired tempo : bizarre but interesting combination. After this break, the traditional VDGG sound comes back for a while : torrid Jackson, Banton and Evans before a last vocal intervention full of subtlety.

VDGG will also surprise their fans with the inclusion of a quite lenghty (over seven minutes) instrumental and repetitive reggae section at the end. Lots of bands will be influenced by this music in those days : reggae was really booming since 1976 (at least in Europe). But when 10 CC does it is quite alright. I'm not too much convinced that VDGG needed that (definitely not that long).

All in all this track is good and various (but could be reduced to fifteen minutes) but lacks probably of true great emotional moments (like we had on "A Plague ..."). Vocal moments are also shorter than what they used to be, so the band can expand more its instrumental side and kind of jamming (Hammill joining at the end to play the guitar). I agree with my fellow countryman - Belgian - Hughes Chantraine (I will stick to his first name) about the very good cover version from Germinale in 1995 (on "E Il Suo Respiro Ancora Agitata le Onde" - this album being a very good one in its entirety, but this is another story). Actually I even prefer their version than the original : it is cut from the unnecessary parts and the Italian flavour added to their rendition has more feeling and emotion.

The album closes with the shortest song (still over 6'30") : "Wondering". It is a very nice ballad, full of lyricism and melody, a bit mellowish though (some orchestrations do not really deserves this track). A good closing number.

It seems that the steam has lost power, but honestly I admit that it pretty impossible to write three studio masterpieces in less than two years. Seven out of ten would be the most accurate rating. I will downgrade it to three stars.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So here it comes, the album that completed the trilogy of Van der Graaf Generator's second era. The main virtue of "World Record" lies in the instrumentation, which bears a more powerful vibe than on any of the two preceding gems ("Godbluff" and "Still Life"), but the main shortcoming comes as a real handicap for the opportunity to make a third masterpiece in a row. That shortcoming is the unevenness of the material - yes, the material is not as strong as to comply the VdGG standards regarding energy, drama and sonic adventure. It is not that the material is terrible or mediocre per se, but you cn tell that there is an exhaustion in the musical vision generated in Hammill's mind and portrayed by the band as a unit. Once again, the unit works very well as an ensemble, but definitely it is very obvious that their instrumental interactions are more robust than most of the musical ideas that are perfomed and delivered. The delivery outdoes the delivered item. 'When She Comes' kiccks off the album with a weird intensity built on a crescendo that gets to its first pinnacle for the first chorus, and onwards, we can feel a reasonable yet not especially amazing set of arrangements around the main motifs. The follower 'A Place to Survive' is a real rocker, seasoned with a slight yet noticeable touch of R'n'B: it is a very pleasant number, following a trend not too common for VdGG standards, that is, an energetic rocker based on dual riffs of guitar and organ and expanding on a constant tempo. Sure Hammill did stuff like this in his solo albums, but this is the first time that VdGG patently approaches a less complex side of avant prog. Actually, less complex doesn't mean comfortable, and the guys can really stir things up in a creative wy while the track goes on and on until its final fade-out, 9+ minutes later. The album's first half finds its apex with 'Masks', a typical Hammillesque angry ballad regarding the limitations of the ego - this track wouldn't have been out of place in any of the two preceding albums, with its ceremonious main motif, magical sax flourishes and a nice shift of tempo and ambience in the interlude. 'Meurglys III' is the album's monster track, but unlike other very long VdGG pieces, this one drags and meanders for too long: had it included more lyrics and had the instrumental sections been more concise, VdGG wouldn't have needed to take 20 minutes to say whatever they intended to. The long reggae coda is only a symptom of the band's overall exhaustion: by the time the listener gets here, they can already tell that this suite lacks something big. But tha tdoesn't happen at all with 'Wondering', which has to be one of the most beautiful VdGG songs ever. Originally composed by Banton and with added religious lyrics by Hammill, this powerful, moving manifesto of clever agnosticism at the gates of death delivers an eerie mixture of Gothic-like organ textures and classy adornments on flutes and saxes, giving a proper mood for Hammill's expressions. A great ending for a not so great album - still, "World Record" deserves a good place in a good prog collection.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars It is really evident from the lyrics and mood of this record that Hammill had been going through some personel trauma (relationship). This album is angry, sarcastic, helpless and melancholic, all of which convey Peter's state at the time, but I like the optimistic way in which it ends. That fighting spirit that is found in "Wondering".

The album opens with "When She Comes" a song that lyrically seems to relate to how unstable and unpredictable relationships are. No guarantees. Definitley some sarcasm here in the lyrics. The song opens with dissonant sax as drums and vocals come in. I like the way the dissonant sax conveys the confusion that our subject is experiencing as the lyrics state " think she's eternal, that you think she is everything..." Yes and they are going to live happily ever after right ? Not ! A nice full sound 1 1/2 minutes in. The organ is prominant,and some relaxing sax comes in after 3 1/2 minutes. The original melody is back 5 minutes in. Very aggressive vocals late that certainly suit the lyrics. "A Place To Survive" is about being in that lowest possible place after the breakup of a relationship and trying to fight through it and survive. Again the lyrics are brilliant. I'd like to write down the whole song, it's worth reading them if you have them. The song is mid-paced with the vocals and sax standing out early. The organ arrives and is incredible ! Hammill spits out the words on this toe tapper. This has such a great sound to it, a real instrumental workout for the band. "Masks" is lyrically about being someone you aren't, and so fooling the people you are around. More beautiful sax and organ in this fairly mellow tune. The song gets a little more aggressive after 3 minutes before calming back down after 5 1/2 minutes. Check out the organ late.

"Meurglys III,The Songwriter's Guild" is over 20 minutes in length. Meurglys III is Hammill's guitar, and he reveals in the song that after this breakup that the guitar "...he's my friend, the only one I can trust to let it be without pretense, there's no one else but my guitar...I suppose he'll have to do." I know people complain about the reggae section and Hammill's guitar playing but I think both are perfect for this song. Did I mention that I think Hammill is brilliant ? I'm not the only one who feels this way, and i'll always give him the benefit of the doubt because he's the musical genius. The intro of this song is sort of dark and solemn before we get a full sound. I like it. A pastoral passage of sax, drums and organ continues until the song starts to build 7 1/2 minutes in.The passionate vocals are back after 9 minutes. A crazy uptempo section 11 1/2 minutes in before the reggae melody after 13 minutes arrives. I know people find that this last part goes on too long, but I could listen to it all day. To me it convey's Peter's emotions. That trippy sound reveals the careless attitude of escape, while the raw Neil Young-like guitar is the release that helps in the escape. "Wondering" again features incredible lyrics like "I will arise:in the depths, I will open my eyes; as my breath almost fails me, survive." He's so theatrical here. And later "I will return: as I live, as I breathe, as I burn, I swear I will come through, with my hands stretching out in the dark, with my eye pressed up tight to the glass, wondering if it's all been true." An optimistic song with some mellotron and flute ends this fantastic record.

Another excellent VDGG album.

Review by laplace
3 stars We sometimes forget that there are people out there (and even in our forums!) that haven't devoured the back catalogue of Van der Graaf Generator, so here's a review aimed at newcomers to the band.

World Record, at fifty-three minutes of slightly overstuffed LP, isn't a good example of strong song-writing and is more of a jam album, putting the spotlight on Banton's majestic church organs and Jaxon's octaving sax-play - both shine in an unegotistical manner, playing in ways you barely thought were possible on a rock record but never battling for attention. At the least, you'll appreciate their musicianship, but just as likely, you'll understand why Van der Graaf Generator work; they operate on trust and ensemble play, each musician struggling to provide as solid a base as possible so that the songs don't fall apart for lack of rock instrumentation. This orchestral mood is further developed when Robert Fripp, the Crimson King himself, adds a lengthy guitar solo to Meurglys III (in itself a song about Hammill's guitar, superficially or otherwise...) yet plays it at a volume slightly below the other band-mates so as not to swamp the song.

The Banton/Jaxon/Evans framework opens up a lot of songwriting space, so despite being played on what you could imagine as a rather limited set of instruments, and even though each song drives on at a similar low-to-mid-tempo pace, they all have their own identity, ranging from ballads to reggae-tinged jamathons to Wondering which is unique in the band's repertoire as a sort of alternative English anthem, very solemn and self-effacing in its remarkable refrain.

Although each track is verbose, Hammill seems in a contrary and harsh mood, delivering most of his lines in a uniquely over-enunciating crow-like rasp, exuberantly spilling over into refined punky-goth territory, not even usually deigning to provide a sane melody unless it's a key moment (the chorus of When She Comes retains a little tunefulness, while Masks and Wondering are softer songs that call for the band's restraint and co-operation) at which times he sounds prideful, often zooming up into the upper registers in a glorious and unabashed falsetto. He has an astonishing range together with great composure, but the places he likes to sing most are in between the notes we love.

Hammill's voice may just be the key to enjoying the band's work, or at least its majority - try their reformation double album Present if you want to hear more of their jamming and less of his singing. Still, you'll be missing out on his lyrics, one of the major attractions to VdGG's music. Each song is a poetic excursion into some area of murky human philosophical quandary, whether it be fate, love, loss or isolation and Hammill always seems to find a new angle or lexicon to express them and so never becomes all that repetitive.

While we have a good album here, it isn't considered by many to be the band's finest moment, so if your first impressions of World Record are favourable, you might consider looking into their H to He album if you'd like to hear them rock more, Godbluff if you want them at their wordiest, or Pawn Hearts if you're itching to hear a seminal and ludicrous prog-rock explosion.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Any energy left in the Generator?

After the absolutely amazing masterpieces Godbluff and Still Life Van Der Graaf Generator [VdGG] quickly came out with a third album to complete their unofficial trilogy after their reuniting. Sporting a slick cover, the classic line-up and a 20+ minute long track this is an album which will no doubt get a lot of attention just from looking at it. But a follow up to two of the band's most renowned albums is going to be something difficult to do, and even though he's considered by many to be a musical mastermind/madman, will Hammil be able to pull it off?

Not quite. While the album does still carry all the trademarks of the VdGG sound but something is missing. What that something is exactly is not really noticeable on the first spin but it becomes painfully obvious with each subsequent listen - this album sounds very tired. Very lackluster. While prior albums (especially Still Life) go from great to amazing thanks to their emotional delivery and electric playing this one just doesn't have that. Indeed, when listening to the album you wonder if the band was really ''into it'' those days when they were in the studio. Hammil muses over the tracks instead of using is bloodthirsty scream and the other band members lull around behind him. While it's not fair to compare this album to prior albums from the band, if every VdGG album were like this they'd be quite the boring group, and indeed, if this were the first album I'd heard by them I probably wouldn't have dug to much further into their discography.

Now, that ranting aside, the album isn't bad, it just isn't exceptional. What we have here is a very average album. Not sub par, but not amazing. Some of the tracks are quite fine indeed, and while they may not be quite so spine chilling as the band is so easily capable of reaching it still manages to make for a pleasant listen. When She Comes is a song that almost makes good use of Hammil's voice, his screaming coming in for a few moments at a time - but he sounds, for some reason, drowned out by the rest of the band his voice not quite accentuated enough to have great impact. Because let's face it - if you're going to be spinning a VdGG album you want to hear Hammil's scream.

Likely the standout of the album is the song that comes closest to achieving what VdGG normally do and that song is Masks. It starts like a kind of twisted lounge song before Jackson steps in to take it for a twist with his sax, Hammil not far behind. Very well done and this is where Hammil actually gets to exercise his voice that we're more used to. A Place To Survive is worth noting because of it's funky pace and sax section while the first half of Wondering has quite the melody but is unfortunately somewhat spoiled by the over repetition of ''wondering...'' coming into the end.

Now everyone is likely wondering (no pun intended) about the longest composition on the album, the monstrous Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild). What we have here is one of VdGG's strongest tracks that could have been made a lot better at points seeing as it feels thrown together sometimes. Still a wonderful song that is 15-minutes of very good VdGG and 5 or 6 minutes of Bob Marley reggae instrumental at the end. While this is a feature that many people often complain about I'll say this: it's good and it's fun if you're not going anywhere. However, if you want the song to simply finish (which you might the fourth or fifth time you hear the song) the ending section gets very tiring very fast.

In the end this one gets a 3. Quite good, but it shouldn't be your start into the VdGG waters. Fans will still find a lot to love in the compositions - perhaps not as much as prior albums, but a lot none the less. A very good record that is not quite as good as we know VdGG to be capable of, this one is also the end of an era where the band (by some miracle) managed to stay together for a string of albums. 3 Earth-sized records out of 5. Not only for fans, but they'll likely appreciate it more.

Review by russellk
3 stars The most uneven of VDGG's albums, 'World Record' is an uneasy amalgam of three strong songs and two poor efforts. The sheer surprise of HAMMILL and company being responsible for any composition of such low quality makes this album a difficult listen.

The first three songs, however, continue their strong tradition of songwriting. While not quite up with their brave experiments of the early 1970s, 'When She Comes', 'A Place To Survive' and 'Masks' are excellent compositions, played with finesse and passion. In particular the first and third of these tracks are stellar additions to the VDGG canon.

However, the monstrously overlong 'Meurglys III' is a jumbled mess, spare parts soldered together with seemingly no regard for the shape of the song. Chief among the offending parts is the seven minute reggae jam that concludes the song. It is not foreshadowed in the previous thirteen minutes, and sits on the song like a gerbil grafted to a dog's back. Playful, perhaps? It just seems so inappropriate. These musicians make a passable stab at the reggae sound, but it's borderline cultural appropriation for no visible reason makes me cringe. One should not be forced to press the 'skip' button on a VDGG CD. But I skip the entire song, as even the first thirteen minutes are the sort of foolishness I thought VDGG to be above indulging in. Who needs an ill-conceived song named after one of HAMMILL's guitars? No wonder there was tension in the band, leading to their breakup immediately after this album.

Perhaps 'Wondering' suffers because of its proximity to the awful 'Meurglys', or it might be the oddly ineffective ending. Both, probably. It's perfectly acceptable, but doesn't make side 2 of this record worth playing.

Certainly not essential, this album is barely of interest to anyone but a VDGG fan, and that only for the first three tracks.

Review by TGM: Orb
3 stars World Record, Van Der Graaf Generator

World Record is where a lot of casual VDGG fans seem to get off, and while it certainly isn't as masterful as the previous four albums, and contains noticeably weak moments without all the psychological satisfaction of working out why sounds, lines and choices had been included, it's not at all bad. Despite a couple of feeble moments in the middles of A Place To Survive and Masks, the lyrics are still excellent, the masterful Banton-Evans team is still on top form, and the band hasn't let up on the experimental, exploratory side of their music. An excellent progressive rock album, but not quite a masterpiece.

The jazzy noodlings of a Jaxon flute and a thumping Evans beat introduce When She Comes, a quirky, vicious and highly musical creature, including some very 'bright' and disjointed organ, a smoky Jaxon riff and a bit of rhythmic insanity. The big feature of this one isn't the neat set of lyrics referencing various intellectual figures, but the absolutely riveting harmonies pulled off by Hammill, whether the clever hook of the opening 'slow' or the ferocious, exuberant, block vocals of 'easy targets, easy crosswords, easy life!' The music is fairly cleverly composed, determined to surprise the listener every time they think they know exactly what will happen, and Evans in particular holds down a unique-to-this-album drum sound. Excellent opener, and really quite cleverly done.

A Place To Survive is a rarity. A VDGG song which doesn't have first rate vocals. Regardless, it comes off fairly well because of the gritty organ, occasionally supplemented by a weird sort of bend thing and the sheer tension that the band is able to contain when all focusing on doing that. Hammill's vocals are clearly on the crazed side here, but really, they only occasionally blow away (perhaps if they were mixed a bit more stridently?). A bit of unfortunately aimless jamming hamstrings the middle of the song, and much as the band, especially Jaxon and Hammill, pulls off a lot of cool sounds and some rather interesting organ licks towards the end, the rest of the song has mixed impact. I have mixed feelings on the lyrics too, some rather neat touches, but a few of the word choices are frankly baffling. One of those songs that gets slightly better towards the end (yes, bass pedal solos for everyone + Schizoid Man warbling), wouldn't be hurt by a mix that placed less ubiquitous emphasis on the organ, and a noticeable weak point in the album.

Masks is probably the most songish piece here, with a very distinct riff within which Jaxon gets to throw his various ethereal saxophone stylings, and Banton and Hammill create some absolutely insane block sounds to enforce the basic content of the song. However, here the music, though excellent, is second to Hammill's vocal, a daring, rapidly sung creature, with all sorts of, often hilarious, flourishes. The lyrics, too, are top notch. Jaxon, for once in this album, lays down some of his scraily sax, and the band both manages to create real tension and expectation as well as put down some chaotic everyone-is-doing-something moments. A marked return to form, even if a couple of the tempo changes come across as obligatory and a bit too abrupt.

So far, by and large not at the standard VDGG had been at for the four preceding albums, but the 'epic' (it's a personal song, and containing a lot of jamming, so it doesn't really count) Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild) redeems it almost single-handedly, with a searching Hammill lyric, superb lines (Where I trade cigarettes in return for songs/The deal's made harder the longer I go on!) and a continued musical interest throughout, whether from dark, 'typically VDGG' sections with manic piano, fuzzy guitar and upside-down Banton organ or careful crescendos following a lonely vocal, with accentuating sax. Everyone seems particularly stricken by the reggae section, but it doesn't really 'feel' like one, in that it remains dark and unresolved and fits in perfectly with the rest of the song (goes on too long? Pfeh, it's about a search! It's got to go on too long!). Here, Hammill's guitar is particularly marked, with self-destructive, played-into-the-ground lines, over the absolutely fantastic Banton organ-beat and alongside Jaxon's colourful flourishes. As always, Evans has a unique sound and feel, and fits into the reggae vibe very effectively. An absolute masterpiece of a song, and proof that Van Der Graaf Generator really didn't stop at Still Life. Essential for any fan of Hammill.

Wondering is where the melody really comes back after the warbling guitar rounding off Meurglys III. The song is positive, gradually rises with a swelling, immaculately tasteful Banton organ part and a dreamy Hammill vocal complimented by celestial saxophone runs. The irrationality becomes a part of the reason, a part of the meaning, a part of the joy. It truly is amazing once you get it, albeit emotionally indescribable, a sort of sad elation, reminiscent of Kerouak's 'beat' idea.

Apologies for the rather scattered and not particularly amazing review here, but it's awkward to do. The oddities here are provided by textures and effects as much as by the actual ideas of the songs, and I simply don't have the musical knowledge to express what I'm thinking Banton's doing every time he (in particularly) does something interesting with his organ part. Credit to the bonus tracks, both worthy inclusions, and, in some ways, better than the originals. Anyway, four stars, comfortably, but it lacks the total absorbtion which other VDGG albums achieved.

Rating: Four stars, 11/15 Favourite Track: Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)

Edit: With rating enharshenigung going on, I thought that probably my least favourite of what I consider the classic phase of Van Der Graaf Generator's offerings would be a worthwhile ceremonial sheep. It's still a great album, I really love large bits of it and overall it really moves me, but, unlike its predecessors and successors, there are noteworthy moments I don't particularly like. Given I'm a serious fan, anyway, I thought maybe a three would be more appropriate.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars World Record is the seventh full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Van Der Graaf Generator. After releasing what I perceive as the best albums of their career in Godbluff (1975) and Still Life (1976) I was very interested to learn if the band could continue their very inspired period and follow those albums up with another stunning album. Still Life was released in April 1976 and World Record was released about six months later in October of 1976. A pretty short time interval between albums and knowing that World Record was actually recorded in May of 1976 it seems even stranger. Who would record an album just one month after releasing your last one? well the story is that some of Still Life was actually recorded during the Godbluff sessions and it was finished in January of 1976, so it seems a bit more sensible knowing that IMO. Van Der Graaf Generator was a busy band in those days though and in between relentless touring their recording schedule was busy and it took its toll on the members of the band and World Record was to be the last album in almost 30 years with the classic lineup of Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, Guy Evans and David Jackson.

The music on the album is dark ( even aggressive at times) and complex in structure. Organ, saxophone, flute, excellent drumming and Peter Hammillīs theatrical vocal style are the features that make up this album. As a new thing on World Record, when compared to earlier albums by the band, Peter Hammillīs otherwise sparse guitar playing is very present and at times even a dominant feature in the sound. There are only five songs on the album but it has a total playing time that says 52:13 minutes. The songs are as usual pretty long and Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild is actually 20:47 minutes long. There are two bonus tracks on the 2005 CD remaster which are When She Comes and Masks recorded live at the John Peel Show on the 11th of November 1976. The five regular songs are all strong and intriguing like weīre used to from the band. Thereīs not a moment of wasted time on the album. Expect dark and emotional music all the way through the albumīs playing time but with a little light at the end of the tunnel in the ending Wondering.

The musicianship is outstanding as ever. A great and pationate vocal performance by Peter Hammill and while his guitar playing leaves a bit to desire it shines through that he loves what he does and thatīs sometimes more important than technical skill. Itīs always easy to praise Peter Hammill for his performance on any Van Der Graaf Generator album but the rest of the band is also doing an excellent job too. Beautiful dark moments are created by Hugh Bantonīs organ and David Jacksonīs saxophone while drummer Guy Evans is the glue that keeps things together. A solid and adventurous drummer that one.

The production isnīt as full and warm as on the two previous albums by the band by itīs still a good sound for the songs and I enjoy it greatly.

World Record took me a while to get into like all Van Der Graaf Generator albums have. This is not an easy listening experience ( itīs not avant garde though) but if you like dark and sombre progressive rock this is highly recommendable. This is another unique album by the band and it fully deserves a 5 star rating from me.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars World Record did not get the general appreciation that the previous VDGG albums received. Not even with the fan base. Nevertheless, apart from Wondering, I still find them at the top of their game here.

One of the reasons for the lack of success might be that this must be their roughest album of all. "When She Comes" sound so bleak that you'd certainly wouldn't want to be around when that happens. "A Place To Survive" is without doubt the most brutal track they ever recorded and the 20 minute Meurglys III epic borders on the insane, with it's atonal interludes, crunching rhythms and, (depending on your point of view) possibly the most irritating, but certainly the weirdest and unpolished guitar solo in prog rock history.

"Masks" is maybe the most pleasing track on the album, though that remains a relative thing here. Only "Wondering" can't convince me much but by the time it begins we've already had 47 minutes of VDGG intensity so that's a minor flaw.

Listening to this album again for this review I realized that this is the VDGG album that I have always played the most. So highly recommended to all other lovers of the dark side of the force!

Review by friso
4 stars Van der Graaf Generator - World Record (1976)

The progressive party was kind of over in 1976 and most bands were looking for some sort of adeption to the new age. VdGG continued with a more simplistic approach with less psychedelics and more songlike structures. Still present are the dark Hammil vocals and the windsection with extended solo's of David Jackson. Drummer Guy Evans could have done better on this album, his drums aren't very noticable. This is quite strange, because his drums were great on previous records.

The first two tracks of the album are low-paced, yet energetic rock tracks with fierce vocals of Peter Hammill and long solo's by Jackson. Perhaps the style of these songs is a bit minimalistic, but the songs do work if you listen to them more often. Masks is however the first track to stand out. A great melodic song with nice vocals and a bit more progressive then the previous two songs. Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild is one of VdGG least known epics, but especially the first 15 minutes are very strong! This is the real classic VdGG with intelligent song-writing, outstanding theatric performance and some nice avant-garde influences. The ending section with the reagge like improvision is a bit dull though. Peter Hammill's guitar solo is very strange (perhaps a bit amateurish) and I don't wonder anymore why VdGG never had many guitarsolo's. Wondering, the last of the album is however one of my favourite VdGG songs of all time. This heroic song with gentle classical chord progressions reminds a bit of the nice parts of Man-Erg, though Wondering is more concetraed on the majestic heroic celebration kind of thing.

Recently I changed my oppinion about this VdGG album. It was my first album of the band and it's much easier now to understand this album, now I know most other albums of them. World Record might be perceived as a letdown, but with some extra spins there's a lot to be found under the dust. The dust being the bit bleak recording sound and perhaps the minimalistic opening-tracks. The performance of the band itself is very strong and somehow this album is a bit more relaxing then their other albums. On Masks and side two of the record the band shows it can still right some masterfull material, with the first two songs falling the 'just good' cathegory. Three and a halve stars for this one.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars VDGG World Record - Mediocre and forgettable.

This is the last album I got hold of to complete the VDGG collection and I must admit it is not one of my favourites, having no standout tracks and is quite forgettable. Perhaps it is being unfair to expect exceptional quality on an album during VDGG's difficult years, but they are capable of brilliance and 'World Record' simply never measures up, the bar is lowered considerably. Certainly 'Wondering' is the set piece that makes this a worthy purchase, a single that is more accessible than the average VDGG track. Hammill's vocal style is as full of conviction as ever with existentialist lyrical power, but the music is sub standard.

It begins with the flute driven 'When She Comes' with some inspirational lyrics and a great saxophone motif. The time sig is quirky and fun, but it did not hold my interest as I am so used to with other VDGG tracks.

'Masks' features oboe that is well played and some organ chord stabs are effective. It is a slow track until the guitar riff changes and the melody is reminiscent of other VDGG I have heard. There is nothing new here but this is still a better track than others on this album.

'A Place to Survive' begins with a rhythmic drum beat and a very interesting melody from organ and sax. This is another one of the better tracks with some rasping Hammill vocals and a great instrumental break with scorching blasts of sax and grinding organ.

The epic 'Meurglys III' is indulgent and disappointing, and nowhere near the standard of VDGG epics such as 'Plague of Lighthouse Keepers' which is now my favourite, don't miss this one. 'Meurglys III' goes on and on and on and loses its power midway through. Like the back end of a hospital gown, something is missing, and it feels more repetitive filler than a great multi-movement suite. There are moments but as a whole it doesn't hang together. In particular the instrumental section at the end is great VDGG but it is too little too late.

The album is satisfactory as far as that goes but there is little on offer here that can be recommended over classic albums such as 'Pawn Hearts', 'H to He...', 'The least we can do...' and 'Godbluff'. Indeed even the latest two albums bury this mediocre attempt.

However, here it is, take it or leave it, and if you are a completist you will no doubt need to get this, but it is not a good starting point by any means. I can recommend just about any other VDGG over this. It is a shame that the band were lowered down to this level after such a promising start. They are better than good but I am sorry, although I am addicted to these progenitors of prog, I just could not get into 'World Record'.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars When World Record was released, 1976, Hammill was already very occupied with his solo career, so as a consequence, this is one of his and the band's worst albums. Also in this album Hammill seems to be losing a bit of his magical and fascinating voice that haunted all the previous VDGG albums. Even all the other members don't seem to be so good.

The first two songs are pretty good, they kind of reminded me of their old days, but the other three tracks are mediocre; even he twenty minute piece tends to be boring and flat. The song I hated was the final one, "Wandering"; I found it very annoying and completely useless, I guess because I didn't like Hammill's work at all.

An album of medium level, and easily forgettable. It could have been much better.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For many years I thought "World Record" was the weakest VDGG album. After two previous masterpieces ("Godbluff" and "Still Life") it seemed to me that the band ran out of ideas leading finally to the second break-up of the 4-piece group. But from the present perspective and having re-visited it for several times, it seems that I have not duly listened to this record!

First three songs on the A side of the vinyl are all excellent, ranking among the Hammill's best, with recognizable yet a bit bold sound and more tight performance than on previous records. "A Place to Survive" even survived to this date being a part of the concert set of the 3-piece VDGG reformation of the 21st century.

More problematic aspect of the album can be found on B side, with the epic "Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)" and the closing "Wondering". The former contains one of Hammill's signature lyrics of a lonely, isolated and misanthropic artist whose only true friend is his guitar while there are some groundbreaking musical achievements like the unexpected closing reggae jam or some odd avant-garde jazz elements, but overall the piece is definitely too stretched (20 minutes) and sometimes repetitive. "Wondering" is a lush symphonic ballad which although not too bad is somehow watering down and spoiling the album, delaying unnecessarily its closure for the last several minutes.

Still, there is one important element that separates "World Record" from all previous albums ? prominent use of electric guitar, the instrument that was never a part of VDGG standard musical set! Of course, Hammill never tries to play lead, feeling safer in providing rhythm and percussive elements of guitar but in some moments during "Masks" and "Meurglys III" in particular you can hear some really unexpected guitar noise coming from Hammill's fingers. All in all, even not on par with their classic albums, "World Record" is a worthy listening experience, proving once again that this band cannot really produce bad record.


Review by Warthur
3 stars A transitional album for Van der Graaf Generator, this one, with Hammill's electric guitar playing more of a presence than on any previous album (the album's longest track, Meurglys III, is even named after his guitar!) and his personal issues seep through into the lyrics to an occasionally uncomfortable extent. Recorded extremely soon after Still Life - to the point where the band don't really seem to have had time to nail down the tracks to the extent they usually would - the album was of course completed in the midst of the events that Hammill would later explore overtly on his solo album Over, and the lyrics to songs like Masks suggest a certain amount of personal turmoil.

This would be the last VdGG album until Present to feature the classic lineup, Banton and Jackson leaving after its completion, and I have to say that it's probably a good thing the band got that shakeup when it did - although it's still an album I have a lot of time for, I have to confess that those who are not as much of a VdGG fan as I am may find it significantly less than essential. Aside from the transitional nature of the album, the production has sounded rather off on all the versions I've heard (Guy Evans' drum sound is particularly thin), and there's a sense fatigue about the music which suggests that the punishing recording and touring schedule that VdGG had adopted from Godbluff onwards had taken its toll. Still, though the reconvened VdGG didn't burn all that long, you can't say it didn't burn brightly.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars For some reason, I rarely pick up this album when I want to listen to Van Der Graaf Generator. And I'm not sure why. It isn't bad. In fact, it has some great music on it. When She Comes ranks up there with some of the finest VDGG songs. A Place To Survive and Masks are also fine pieces.

But something happens during Muerglys III (The Songwriters Guild). It begins amazingly. It could have been one of this band's finest songs. It even stays intriguing as it morphs into a Pink Floyd- like extended solo section. Then they make a mistake. As a former member of a band, I understand just how easy it can be to lapse into an extended reggae rhythm. And when you extend it too long, as is done here, it can get boring. And to top it off, Hammill plays a simply dreadful guitar solo doring this section.

And all of this probably detracts from Wondering, which on any other VDGG album would probably fit better. But after the previous debacle, it just comes across as pompous.

A nice start, but a fumble at the end. 3 stars.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 54

'World Record' is the seventh studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1976. All the songs were written by Peter Hammill, except 'Wondering' which was written by Hugh Banton and Hammill. When of the recording sessions of the album there were two problems inside the band. The first problem was a lot of tension between the band's members, particularly between the leader Hammill and their keyboardist Banton. The second problem was a Hammill's personnel problem, the forthcoming separation of Peter from his long time girl friend which already shows up on the horizon. The result of this was that it was the last recorded album by this fantastic classic line up of the band until their reunion in 2005. At the end of 1976, following 'World Record', first Banton and then David Jackson departed from the group, having being replaced by their previous bassist Nic Potter that returned to the group to replace Banton, and the new presence of the violinist Graham Smith, ex-String Driven Thing, which replaced the saxophonist and flutist Jackson on their next eighth studio album 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' released in 1977.

'World Record' is a milestone release for Van Der Graaf Generator. It's the album that features extended guitar use for the first time into all their discography, until then. Hammill has outgrown his fear of inadequacy, probably giving to his guitar the space that it was really needed. Jackson makes for yet another time a brilliant musical work with his saxophones and flutes, which became a perfect cooperation with Banton's keyboard work.

'World Record' has five tracks. The first track 'When She Comes' is a song related with Peter's personal love affair. The song seems to relate to how unstable and unpredictable the relationships are, and how we can live with a person, who after all, we didn't know as well as we thought. After all, we have no guarantees of knowing someone, even if we are very close to that person, and so there is the danger of we are alone in the world. It's a fantastic track and one of my favourites too. The second track 'A place To Survive' is probably the most standard Van Der Graaf Generator's track on this album. This song is about of us be alone in this solitary world, after the breakup of a close relationship, and trying to find a place and a way to survive in this hostile world. This is also an excellent track. The third track 'Masks' is a song more in the style of the first song. It's about to show be someone that we aren't, and so fooling the people who live with us. It reminds us the danger of show a face that isn't really ours and because of that we lose our real face and in the end, we truly don't know who we really are. The fourth track 'Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)' is the lengthiest track on the album and is the most controversial, too. However, I really can't see any problem with this song. The song warns of the danger after the breakup of a relationship that we can isolate ourselves from the world remaining only as friends of our personal objects, for personal use, and only just talk to plants and animals, thinking we are gods in our personal world. This is a very lengthy and slow song especially composed for Hammill's guitar, the Meurglys III. Many people complain that the song is very extensive and has a reggae section. Sincerely, I don't see any problem with the size of the song and even with the reggae musical influences. I remember that we are on a site of progressive rock where musical genres aren't compartmented, and moreover we are talking about the sub-genre eclectic prog, which as its name indicates, receives influences from many different musical styles. The fifth track 'Wondering' is the song that ends beautifully the album. It's a hymn with a note of hope and desperate questions. It's an optimistic song with great lyrics supported by a high quality Banton's keyboard work. It brings us the hope that we need after the breakup on a relationship. We can return, arise and survive in this world. It brings also the hope that this line up of Van Der Graaf Generator may return, which luckily has happened, but unfortunately, only in 2005.

Conclusion: By all the problems mentioned above, 'World Record' is, in my humble opinion, the Hammill's most personal album of all the releases of Van Der Graaf Generator. This album is melancholic, helpless, angry, sarcastic, aggressive, dark, and almost brutal, from time to time, and at the same time it's very hopeful and very beautiful too. Why this album must be a masterpiece? Because 'World Record" has everything needed to be a masterpiece. It has some of the most beautiful lyrics written by Hammill and it isn't inferior to almost all of the previous albums of the group. 'World Record' saw Hammill at the peak of his powers, at just the moment when 'Anarchy In The UK', the punk movement, blew apart a largely stagnant rock scene. Forty years later, all we can do is to admire them, and be grateful for the creation of an album like 'World Record'. It worked as an excellent album that closes magnificently one more Van Der Graaf Generator's musical era. It shows why Van De Graaf Generator is one of the best prog groups.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Peter Hammill had to have been one of the most prolific and hardworking musicians of all 70s prog with perhaps the sole exception of Frank Zappa. If you begin to peruse his canon of the era either as a solo artist or with VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and compare the two canons side by side, you will soon realize that this man with many of VdGG band members released two albums per year in 1970, 71, 74, 75 and 76 and still had time to tour and deal with all the niceties of the music industry. It's simply mind blowing considering the musical adeptness and depth of the compositions and overall quality of all the albums that were cranked out in this period. The year 1976 may have been nearing the end of the second phase of VdGG as a band but the quartet of Peter Hammill (vocals, keyboards), Hugh Benton (organs, bass, bass pedals), David Jackson (sax, flute) and Guy Evans (percussion) still managed to release two albums in its twelve month duration. First in the year came "Still Life" after the successful comeback that started with "Godbluff" along with a tour before releasing the following album of the year, their seventh overall, WORLD RECORD which continued to take the band into new musical arenas. It's not wonder these guys burned out!

WORLD RECORD was created during the hectic non stop tour of "Still Life" and introduces completely new elements in the band's ever changing sound which in many ways presaged the 80s by about four years and introduced a unique hybrid of the classic early 70s prog with the new wave that was beginning to take off. WORLD RECORD is sort of the band's version of King Crimson's "Discipline" only before the group broke up. Once again VdGG was ahead of its time and despite a ridiculously brilliant album released in the latter half of 1976 found too little success in financial terms and would lead to the break up of the classic lineup after this one as both Hugh Banton and David Jackson had reached their breaking points and left the band soon after. While the classic members are still on board on this one, the album sounds like a completely different band in many ways. While some of the taming down of the prog excesses began to present themselves on "Godbluff" and "Still Life," WORLD RECORD takes the more commercial sounds to even greater extremes but make no mistake about it, this is still a prog album through and through.

While earlier VdGG albums eschewed the use of excessive guitar usage with only a few appearances here and there, Peter Hammill developed his electric guitar playing skills and on WORLD RECORD becomes a major aspect of the album's overall style. As usually the five tracks are filled with the melodic keyboard runs that play off of Hammill's emotive vocal style. While many aspects of the album race to the future to tackle new wave styles of cyclical melodies and rhythms, new genres like ska and Styx-like arena rock sewn into the fabric of the compositions, the heavy use of Hammond organs and Mellotron firmly anchors the album's sound into the past which gives it a rather interesting blend of the past with modern flavors. David Jackson's sax solos are less frenetic and more smooth like on Supertramp albums or more pop oriented artists like David Bowie but somehow still convey a sense of magnanimity absent from such acts. While the progressive rock, jazz and psychedelic elements are still around in abundance, they are more streamlined by super catchy ear hooks that keep the music flowing in an almost jam band fashion only in a very calculated way.

The passionate "When She Comes" starts the album off with an almost funky groove as Hammill belts out his ferocious lyrics like Freddie Mercury without losing his idiosyncratic trademarks that has always allowed him to stand out amongst the crowds. The track clearly demonstrates how VdGG could generate an almost pop-like hit and extend it out into an eight minute track by subtly creating changes and developments that are almost imperceptible but stream along perfectly. "A Place To Survive" continues the trend with a standard 4/4 timed beat and Styx like keyboard stabs. It also shows how VdGG adds a funky groove with a more soulful delivery. The drumbeat on this one starts out sounding something like Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" before the other instruments join in which insinuates a sense of disco. However while the track is more tailored for an easy on the ears experience with a soulful sax and syncopated key accompaniment, the band still found ways to have proggy breakdowns and extend the track to a surprisingly pleasant ten minute playing time.

"Masks" thematically conveys the story of a man who was afraid to show his true self in front of others and after wearing face covers for too long, finally lost sense of his true self. While the upbeat musical delivery creates a less dark atmosphere than on albums such as "Pawn Hearts," VdGG find more subtle ways to bring in the darkness. The highlight of the album is the whopping almost 21 minute behemoth "Meuglys III (The Songwriters Guild)," the longest track VdGG had cranked out since "Pawn Hearts," yet nothing like it. While it recounts the tale of a guitarist whose only friend is guitar, the musical delivery is by the most interesting aspect of the lengthy prog behemoth since most of the track is instrumental. It's also no surprise that this is the most proggy track of the album as the time signature liberties are unleashed as are all the past glory attributes as psychedelia and psychotic frenzies VdGG are quite talented in expressing. The entire near 21 minutes is practically engulfed by a single cyclical melodic run with an infinite run of variations although there are many breakdowns and time outs. Structured in both quiet and more aggressive passages, the most memorable climactic frenzy occurs around the 13 minute mark before the main melodic framing picks up again only in a reggae ska style and finds a way to keep the track interesting for another seven minutes with Hammill's guitar call and responses interacting with the syncopated rhythms and flute flutterings!

One of the underrated albums in the VdGG canon. It's hard to compare this one to the ones that came before. While VdGG were always ahead of the curve, this time they were right on it as the musical landscape was changing around them. The band's tight knit chemistry allows this album to shine and even through the basic grooves that drive the compositions have a more commercial appeal, the complexities of how everything is strung together and laid out is utterly brilliant and ultimately addictive. The only track that doesn't resonate with me is the closing "Wondering" which is so happy and exuberant that it sound like a gospel choir happy hour that should have been on Hammill's cheerful and happy debut "Fool's Mate." Needless to say, VdGG at this point were masters of their game and could easily move on from album to album and always find a way to incorporate new methods of musical madness that always created the proper addictive earworms while allowing the instrumental interplay to shine. And of course Hammill never ceases to amaze as his vocals are almost unhinged on this one as he screams and whispers and everything in between to make his passionate pleas to the audience. This is one that continues to grow on me and shouldn't be disregarded because of some of the more pop elements on board. This one is as magical as anything that came before. Despite half the band walking out, Hammill would release one more unique musical specimen before disbanding VdGG for the second time.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars World Record would prove to be the last VdGG release with the classic lineup until their 2005 reunion. To be fair my reaction towards this album was mixed. Side one is absolutely brilliant, I was particular fond of "A Place to Survive". These songs aren't too different from their previous two albums, and in fact "When She Comes" sounds like a Godbluff leftover. Side two kind of falls apart at the end. "Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild" is the lengthy epic, while true never reaches the heights of ""A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" is, for the most part, still very good, until Hugh Banton decides to go all reggae on his organ, which goes on for far too long. "Wondering" is a calm piece but not a favorite of mine. To me an uneven album, but there is still some brilliant material to make it worth having.
Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars Van Der Graaf Generator in 1976, with a short distance from Still Life, churned out the third Lp in a year and a half, and after the short Godbluff, the duration of the records increased more and more, in fact they went from 35 minutes of Godbluff to 52 minutes of World Record. The sound remains dry, almost live, with the drums always too prominent, and Hammill's voice increasingly hoarse and choked, so much so that the overall sound becomes more and more shocking. This album features Hammill's acid- sounding electric guitars that anticipate the next record.

Side A. 1. When She Comes (7:58) After a pastoral preamble of classical music conducted by Jackson's flute begins the first song, marked by Evans's rhythm too prominently and too monotonous. In the instrumental part we recognize the usual van der graaf sound, but on the whole the song is by trade, without inspiration. there is a distressing progression but not up to the past and Hammill's voice on the high notes is too choked. Vote 7,5.

2. A Place to Survive (10:00) Very cadenced ballad with Hammill's hoarse voice that makes her heartbreaking. Sound rough, at times noisy, deafening, almost hard rock. VdGG scoffs and sounds shrill, scratchy, loud, acidic, to the point where we are indisposed to listening. The production of the pieces affected his listening. Rating 7.

3. Masks (6:55) Third song, Masks, with a slow start, ballad with drums and saxophone but soon came the electric guitars almost hard rock, and the piece becomes a hard-pop-rock, which completely changes rhythm towards the middle - typical proressive change. The sax plays on the low notes. The sound is bad, it's difficult to arrive to the end. Rating 6,5

End of Side A. The worst first side of VdGDS ever until 1976.

Side B: 1. Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild (20:47) The Meurglys III suite arrives almost twenty-one minutes, certainly the most challenging piece on the album, which begins with a dissonant rhythm between the relaxed and the obsessive, the guitars are acid. Van Der Graaf has now moved far away from Godbluff. A very slow and jazzy instrumental piece arrives, and after a routine beginning Van der Graaf come back to amaze, the level of qualifying rises a lot. At about 4 and a half minutes the song stops, and then re-starts slowly, with Hammill's singing almost quietly. Then begins a long instrumental piece, very good, ruined in part by the excessive amplification of Evans' drums, too prominently, especially with the sound of the case. Also here comes Hammill's acid electric guitar, the group reach an hybrid music, remarkable, an acidic, obsessive jazz. It follows a noise, cacophonous piece, which then leads towards 12 minutes and 45 seconds to a new pause, a short sung piece by Hammill that ends at 13 minutes and 15 seconds and then about 7 minutes of instrumental tail. Masterpiece. Rating 8.5

5. Wondering (6:33) The second side could end with Meurglys III, instead VdGG decide to add a ballad guided by keyboards and flutes where Hammill's singing fights with music. VdGG seem to have lost the proportions between music and singing and sound, the right balance that is found from the second to the fourth album. The song sounds pompous, and again is ruined by sound, arrangement and singing. Vote 7.

Total Time: 52:13

With this completely heterogeneous album, marked by 4 modest songs, ruined by the overall sound, and a great, wonderful suite, Van Der Graaf proves that they have lost their sound and their internal cohesion, and that they need a break.

Rating: 7.5. Three Stars.

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars The echoes of "Still Life" had not finished resounding, and once again VDGG comes out with "World Record", the band's seventh album and one of their most experimental, and in which they continue to scrutinize the complexities that the course of life brings with it. Peter Hammill on this occasion partly cedes his usual protagonism, having as a counterpart a greater instrumental development of the rest of the band.

And so it is that Guy Evans' percussion sets the pace and is even encouraged to go a little beyond the natural accompaniment, both in the vulnerable "When She Comes" and in the persevering "A Place to Survive", well supported by Hugh Banton's keyboards and David Jackson's intense saxophone. Hammil participates more actively in the cadenced half-time of the chameleon-like "Mask", briefly interrupted by an instrumental interlude, to end with an unbridled shriek, the singer's trademark, before giving way to the extended "Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild", and although the first part is among the best of the album, including a surprising electric guitar, atypical in VDGG's universe, the second part is unnecessarily extended with an unexpected reggae instrumental, which does not add much to the song.

The curtain of keyboards and a luminous chorus are the framework for the emotional "Wondering", the most harmonious of the songs on "World Record", to give it a jubilant ending.

Although "World Record" is a good album and is still impregnated by the sparkles of VDGG, it does not reach the brilliance of its predecessors, and it is rather beginning to be seen on the horizon that the gas tank is starting to show signs of exhaustion...

3.5 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars Only six months after Still Life, the band put out their next album, World Record. "When She Comes" opens with light and jazzy drums and weird flutes flitting about. Hammill's guitar is more prominent here (and throughout the album as a whole), and it adds some nice textural contrast. Despite some g ... (read more)

Report this review (#2938684) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Tuesday, July 11, 2023 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I've only just caught up with VDGG's back catalogue so this album was new to me. Given the sheer quality of this group's work on the five previous albums, from The Least We Can Do through to Still Life, I can only assume the second side of this one is some kind of wind up. The one thing the five ... (read more)

Report this review (#1902975) | Posted by notafrog | Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An oustanding record, its magic! I cant believe how good this album is.( Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild) is an ultimate VDGG song. I find my self gliding in their universe of music! Hammels singing is at its peak of performance in the song. A true gym to me since i always listened to them ... (read more)

Report this review (#1005829) | Posted by HereticEsoteric | Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After the burst of creativity that created the two incredible works, "Still Life" and "Godbluff", the VDGG machine slows down. World Record is still a good album but two songs drag it down a bit. "A Place To Survive" and "Meurglys III. "These aren't bad songs but you can certainly hear the strain of ... (read more)

Report this review (#871422) | Posted by ster | Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh, this album is not considered as VdGG's top, despite it is for me. It's my cup of tea with milk, sugar and a chocolate bar on the plate. When She Comes could be not so interesting song, but the final part gripped me and I enjoy it every time. A Place to Survive is maybe the weakest song, however ... (read more)

Report this review (#772420) | Posted by Glucose | Saturday, June 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Van der Graaf Generator released World Record as the third album of their second period, within a year after Godbluff and Still Life, their two greatest masterpieces. The album opens with "When She Comes". This track starts with soft flute sounds and Peter Hammill's voice joining in. The track ... (read more)

Report this review (#408962) | Posted by someone_else | Sunday, February 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a very good record. Indeed, as the title of the record indicates it every people in the "world" should have this album. Anyway the latter is not true. The last theme is marvelous, it has a very nice guitar solo, this is very unusual in Van der Graaf Generator discography. The theme is rea ... (read more)

Report this review (#243666) | Posted by amontes | Thursday, October 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After the brilliant Still Life, this album is less than remarkable. The whole band seem much less inspired. When She Comes is a decent Hard Rock opener and becomes quite heavy around the 6 1/2 minute mark (my favorite moment on the entire record). Overall the song feels too straight-forward thoug ... (read more)

Report this review (#201832) | Posted by AdamHearst | Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars World Record indeed. This is very unique album because Peter Hammill decided to write a piece of music that included quotes from wrold's folk music. So don't be surprised when you'll hear a bit of salsa here and there. There's also a bit of Balkan/Turkish stuff, Slavonic mountainmen sound, Jamai ... (read more)

Report this review (#178670) | Posted by LSDisease | Saturday, August 2, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Really impressed by some reviews concerning World Record , an excellent work of VDGG , and...... AS I PROMISED few months ago , i'll try to go through all this incredible band discography , and review what i find necessary in my opinion . World Record is not at all different from the two m ... (read more)

Report this review (#173341) | Posted by trackstoni | Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album can scare people away. It is too much mad and repetitive in some parts, certainly too heavy and to rough in some moments. Hammil plays here electric guitar a bit more than anywhere else, but I am not impresed. Many people say that his voice is great, but I think that it is nothing spe ... (read more)

Report this review (#128127) | Posted by nisandzic | Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Again more of the same. For a lyricist of Hammill's caliber, I just wish that he'd gotten a band that could sound like they were alive. The more I've listened to VDGG, the more I had to look at the album covers to distinguish one from the other. Peter's lyrics, on the other hand, whenever they ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#115156) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 stars really! Having put this on recently after not hearing it for a while, I am confused about the low ratings this generally gets. Admittedly, I didn't like it much back when I first bought it. But I think that is down to the fact that I was discovering them chronologically (though I s ... (read more)

Report this review (#112728) | Posted by | Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars By far the weakest of the VDGG LP's this has very little to commend it. The arrangements presented here sound tired and lacking. Strangely this material sounded much much better live. Hammills guitar playing is at times almost atonal and irritating. To me (a very big fan) this LP sounds like a ... (read more)

Report this review (#92032) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Itīs funny that a lot of prog-rock fans consider 1970-1974 the best years of this genre. But, in fact, when punk was about to come, some prog masterworks were being cooked: "Wind & Wuthering" (Genesis), "Going for the One" (Yes), "The Geese & the Ghost" (Anthony Phillips) or "World Record" (V ... (read more)

Report this review (#91485) | Posted by Jordi Planas | Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have to confes i was lamost a litle worried about this album before i bought it. but now when i finely have it in my hands i can finely take a deep breath and relax again. It seemed to me that this wuhld be a wake album from the mighty Generator. I yust culden belive it. And now when i heard ... (read more)

Report this review (#62339) | Posted by Zargus | Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars World Record introduced me to Van Der Graaf Generator, and is certainly a great start. Peter Hamill's vocals and the sax playing of David Jackson contain the weight of my attention throughout the album, while the piano/bass/organ/mellotron work of Hugh Banton and the percussion of Guy Evans pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#54068) | Posted by Saviorts | Sunday, October 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I seem to be in the minority, but I like this one better than the other two MkII albums, "Still Life" & "Godbluff." "Merg III" is quite the epic, arguably among the best of their epic tunes and certainly best of the 1975-76 period. "A Place To Survive" is also outstanding, one of their most ... (read more)

Report this review (#51024) | Posted by | Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Work announced in 1976 "World Record". Masterpiece that indicates new direction of group. It is an album of a violent style contrasting it with the work before it looks into oneself.The sound of the affection of the final tune is felt more beautiful by me for that. Album by which produced by g ... (read more)

Report this review (#47229) | Posted by braindamage | Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, I do love "World Record". In my opinion, this album isn't up to the standards of "Godbluff" (which is a truly masterpiece), but is better than "Still Life" - I would say that "World Record" has more memorable songs than "Still Life". "When She Comes" and "A Place to Survive" ranks with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#8016) | Posted by | Friday, April 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR "World Record"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.