Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Van Der Graaf Generator picture
Van Der Graaf Generator biography
Formed in 1967 in Manchester, UK - Hiatus from 1972 to 1975 - Disbanded in 1978 - Reunited in 2004

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR is an English eclectic progressive rock band with front man Peter HAMMILL from 'the classic period' that has proven be one of the most important bands of the progressive genre.

In England, 1967 Chris Judge SMITH formed 'VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR', but after his departure it was up to Peter HAMMILL (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Hugh BANTON (organ, bass on organ), David JACKSON (sax, flute) and Guy EVANS (drums) to become one of progressive rock most proliferate and unique bands as well as the first band to be signed to the Famous Charisma Label. The band was named after the scientific instrument 'the Van de Graaff generator', which is used for accumulating high voltage bolts. VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VdGG for short) is known for its extrovert dynamics (ranging from slow, calm & peaceful to fierce & heavy), its intense and emotional 'love it or hate it' vocals by Peter HAMMILL, its celebrated contribution to extended progressive songwriting and its combination of psychedelic, jazz, classical and avant-garde or even acid influences. Moreover, VdGG can be seen as the first band that was to combine the very progressive with the very personal, whereas other bands used to work with abstractions and fantasy. Peter HAMMILL has a talent for singing out intense graving, anger, panic and confusion whilst still being able to sing warm and caring in other passages. The band never really fitted in the symphonic progressive rock subgenre because of its widespread influences and unique style, though the band would have symphonic leanings throughout it's career. Unusual for the time was the focus on organ, drums and sax, whereas in the sixties the guitar and the bass guitar had played a major role.

The band had a leading role in the very first progressive phase releasing high-rated albums from 1970 to 1975. The strong conceptual 'H to He Who am the only one' (1970), the intense and highly innovative and daring 'Pawn Hearts' (1971), the bleak and ever evolving 'Godbluff' (1975) and the matured 'Still Life' (1976) are often cited as masterpieces of the progressive genre. Alongside VdGG there would be a very interesting solo-career for Peter HAMMILL who frequently invited members of the band to come and join on his seventies rec...
read more

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR forum topics / tours, shows & news


VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR forum topics Create a topic now
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR tours, shows & news Post an entries now

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR videos (8) | Search and add more videos to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Buy VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Music



More places to buy VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR music online Buy VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 631 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.06 | 1037 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
1970
4.31 | 1635 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.43 | 2170 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.48 | 2050 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.29 | 1499 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.83 | 759 ratings
World Record
1976
3.65 | 645 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.61 | 507 ratings
Present
2005
3.50 | 478 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.44 | 477 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.48 | 237 ratings
ALT
2012
3.54 | 173 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 273 ratings
Vital
1978
4.07 | 133 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.09 | 179 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.66 | 81 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
3.64 | 47 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.85 | 53 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.21 | 45 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 112 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
4.36 | 14 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.17 | 28 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.31 | 10 ratings
Live Broadcasts - Collector's Rarities
2006
4.01 | 59 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
4.54 | 38 ratings
Live at Metropolis Studios
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 34 ratings
68-71
1972
3.25 | 5 ratings
Repeat Performance
1972
3.19 | 7 ratings
Reflection
1975
2.21 | 5 ratings
Rock Heavies
1978
2.40 | 60 ratings
Time Vaults
1982
3.42 | 63 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.36 | 47 ratings
Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
1986
2.11 | 39 ratings
Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans)
1988
3.30 | 54 ratings
I Prophesy Disaster
1993
3.93 | 68 ratings
The Box
2000
3.32 | 21 ratings
An Introduction
2000
3.25 | 5 ratings
First Generation / Godbluff
2012

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.57 | 18 ratings
People You Were Going To / Firebrand
1969
4.08 | 21 ratings
Afterwards / Necromancer
1969
3.84 | 30 ratings
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
1970
3.38 | 32 ratings
Theme One / W
1972
3.88 | 17 ratings
Masks Part 1 / Masks Part 2
1976
4.50 | 18 ratings
Wondering / Meurglys III
1976
4.16 | 19 ratings
Cat's Eye
1977
1.72 | 18 ratings
The Masters
1998
3.25 | 8 ratings
Highly Strung
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trisector by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.50 | 478 ratings

BUY
Trisector
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

3 stars 'Trisector' is the 2008 release by Van der Graaf Generator. It was released on Virgin and once again sees the band as a trio - Hammill, Banton and Evans handle all instrumental and vocal duties, to produce one of the somewhat-interesting modern VdGG albums. However, in all honesty, 'Tristector' is far away from the stellar releases of the band from the 70s.

Not too much experimentation this time (unlike 'Present') and definitely more uplifting than 'Do Not Disturb' (that the band release eight years later). The "main man" of the album is Hugh Banton whose pianos, keys, and organ are all over the record and were undoubtedly the basis of many of the compositions on this release.

A more song-oriented album and a but groovy from time to time, 'Trisector' is a good addition for any prog rock geek and I believe, for VdGG fans who are eager to explore the band's full catalogue. Still, I would not say that this is a universally essential album, as it is not as engaging as 'Present', for example.

It probably would not speak to fans who don't care about the band too much, or prog rock, at all. So, I believe that 2.5 stars is the proper rating for this one.

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.54 | 173 ratings

BUY
Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

3 stars 'Do Not Disturb' is the last (to date) studio album by British rock legends Van der Graaf Generator. Released in 2016, this album sees the band as a trio - Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, and Guy Evans. However, it still sounds like VdGG and it is instantly recognisable, mainly because of Peter Hammill's haunting vocal style. 'Do Not Disturb' is one of the darker albums in the band's catalogue, with 'Aloft' opening the album, the almost ballad-like haunting piece, followed by 'Alfa Berlina' with its Bowie-esque atmosphere. The band is not moving too far away from the music they are comfortable playing. The classic VdGG feel is still alive. However, most of the record does not strike the same place that their 70s records do. 'Forever Falling' and 'Almost the Words' are among the highlights of the album. There are momentous improvisations, but the record could definitely be classified as a bit 'minimalist' in style, as the trio does not create a loud wall of sound but decide to stick to their more expressionist style. It would bebg an interesting addition to any prog rock fan, but it is definitely not as good as the band's classic albums. Still, 'Do Not Disturb' is a good album (and nothing less is expected from a band of this caliber).
 Present by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.61 | 507 ratings

BUY
Present
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

4 stars 'Present' is the 2005 release by British prog rock legends Van der Graaf Generator. This album sees off the classic line-up of Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, David Jackson, and Guy Evans. Also, it is the band's first album since the 70s, and they surely didn't go far away from the sound they are known for. It is a double disc divided into two parts: Songs (or Disc one) and Improvisations (Disc two). Although there is the entirely instrumental track 'Boleas Panic' on disc one that is just gorgeous. The band is known for always improvising in the studio and they surely have tons of unreleased material, except for a few pieces from the 70s but this time we get a glimpse at the 'sub-products' of their sessions, and quite honestly, they're not for everyone. The ten tracks on the second disc include some interesting pieces that showcase the band's jazz leanings but also the ability to experiment with different sounds. VdGG are definitely not the band that will try to seek a larger audience by changing their sound, and this record is a proof of that. However, it might not be as essential as their material from the 70s but it still has some peculiar and mesmerizing tracks, like Boleas Panic, Abandon Ship!, Nutter Alert, On the Beach. It is an excellent addition to any VdGG fan, and definitely will be interesting for prog rock fans overall.
 The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.65 | 645 ratings

BUY
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After a deterioration of the sound, which became almost difficult to listen in "World Record", Hammill understands that VdGG has lost that internal cohesion, that balance between the various instruments that determined the anguished and beautiful atmospheres of the first albums.

And so he decides to change the band's line-up and arrangements, to arrive at a much more essential, stringed sound, guided by guitars and violin. Nic Potter, the bass virtuoso who had done wonders on his early albums, returns, and Graham Smith arrives on violin, which influences much of the sound of the record, taking the place of Jackson's saxophone present only in two songs. Remains Guy Evans, Hugh Banton disappears.

- The Quiet Zone (LP side 1): 1. Lizard Play (4:29) 2. The Habit of the Broken Heart (4:40) 3. The Siren Song (6:04) 4. Last Frame (6:13)

1) Lizard's Play. Good rock start, syncopated rhythm, the sound of the violin immediately captivating, and the rhythm section with the virtuoso bass of Potter inaugurates the new sound, clear and sober, for VdG without Generator. A slow fade finish, which will be typical for the album. Vote 7.5/8.

2) Slower and gaunt ballad, with more instrumental diversion, more developed, which acquires good rhythm. We're listening to more art-rock than progressive. Rating 7.5.

3) Romantic dance with the piano that raises the quality of the album by focusing on what Hammill is master: the pathos. An instrumental cut-out ensues, perhaps the first truly progressive piece of the album, finally returns the sweet melody accentuated by the piano and the violin. Epic song on minor tones. It misses the flicker. Vote 8+.

4) Last Frame. It starts as a thriller, with an instrumental minute of beautiful violin, then the song starts, which takes advantage of a syncopated rhythm, which struggles to proceed, and ends with another beautiful instrumental piece. The impression is that the quality of this album is all related to the inventions of Smith's violin. Vote 7.

- The Pleasure Dome (LP side 2): 5. The Wave (3:14) 6. Cat's Eye / Yellow Fever (Running) (5:20) 7. The Sphinx in the Face (5:58) 8. Chemical World (6:10) 9. The Sphinx Returns (1:12)

5) The Wave is another ballad with the piano, where Hammill sings on the low notes, the song does not take off, and begins the B-side in minor tone. Vote 7.

6) Cat's Eye ? Yellow Fever is the masterpiece of the album. Graham Smith's violin score is worthy of a virtuoso of cultured music. The rhythm is gripping, epic, grandiose. Atmosphere that reaches a rare power. Then, after a variation worthy of a Mozart symphony, the violin dries into a dissolving ending that Hammill unfortunately does not accompany with words: it would have been the icing on the cake. Rating 9.5.

7) The Sphinx In The Face. Well-rhythmic rock dance, gritty but quite conventional, which is characterized by Potter's bass solo, instrumental progression and highly sought-after finale but too insistent and repetitive. Vote 7.5/8.

8) Chemical World it is the toughest song on the album, too long, uninspired. Rating 6,5.

9) It's useless.

After "World Record," this Lp with its clear production is once again a pleasure for the ears. Hammill's voice is finally back similar to the original, not the hoarse, choked voice of Still Life and World Record. The music suffers from the punk and new wave climate, and in fact takes on aspects more of art rock than progressive, but we can listen to -One great masterpiece -One great piano ballad - Two very good rock ballad The other songs are modest.

In conclusione, Rating: 8/10. Three and a half stars.

 World Record by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.83 | 759 ratings

BUY
World Record
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.84 | 30 ratings

BUY
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Refugees' / 'The Boat of a Million Years' was a single released by the UK label Charisma (catalog CB-122) in 1970. The attraction here is the non-album b-side, referring to the Egyptian wjꜣ-n-ḥḥw, the sacred barque which Ra rides across the sky each day. The intro reminds me a bit of Caravan's 'Winter Wine,' released in 1971, though the song is unmistakably a product of Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator (VdGG). Guitarist and vocalist Hammill, who also wrote the song, wastes no time issuing his standard pedantry: 'Horus the Good lived in the North in lands of fertility and beauty / but Set stayed in the hard desert; to him belonged all drought and perversity...' His delivery of the lyrics is as heroic as ever, although vocally and instrumentally, 'The Boat of a Million Years'* is a relatively calm number by VdGG standards.

The a-side is a substantially different version of 'Refugees' than appeared as the second track of The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, released a few months earlier. In addition to fading earlier, the single version uses a different mix. Lyrically, the song is straightforward in places ('we're refugees carrying all we own / 
in brown bags tied up with string') and at least to me, obscure in others ('East was dawn, coming alive in the golden sun / the winds came gently, several heads became one'). Like the reverse, 'Refugees' is expressive, yet restrained compared to much of VdGG's other work.

Possessing as it does a non-album track and a unique single mix, this record was an essential item to VdGG fans until both tracks appeared as CD bonus material on the 2005 Charisma reissue of The Least We Can Do. But 'The Boat of a Million Years' is worth having for any fan of Van der Graaf Generator's brand of eclectic prog. [2 stars on the 4-star scale for singles - - see review page for scale]

====

*Hammill actually sings 'the boat of millions of years,' which is the now-canonical phraseology.

 Time Vaults by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1982
2.40 | 60 ratings

BUY
Time Vaults
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars True fans of prog legends VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR often lament over the lost years that spawned in between the band's first "breakup" in 1971 after the release of "Pawn Hearts" and the 2.0 version of the band that resumed with the 1975 release of "Godbluff." The great VDGG had every intention of releasing an album after "Pawn Hearts" in 72 but the prog behemoth who notoriously gave it 110% of their time, energy and resources to keep the artistic expression afloat found a diminishing return as lesser talented bands laughed all the way to the bank. Having literally burned out from the touring scene and other pressures, VDGG "officially" called it quits but in reality the four members of Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar, piano, bass), David Jackson (sax, piano), Hugh Banton (organ, bass) and Guy Evans (drums) remained together as a band only under the guise of a solo career of Peter Hammill.

The timeline from 1971-75 between albums began with the writing and practicing of material for a real followup to "Pawn Hearts" but evolved into the rehearsals for Hammill's solo works. Somehow bootleggers had acquired rare compilations of unreleased tracks and were commanding hefty prices so VDGG decided to release a collection of some of these tracks in the form of this official release that was titled TIME VAULTS. Originally appearing in 1982 on cassette only, due to enough interest a vinyl LP followed and finally a CD appearing ten years later in 1992. This album covers the whole range from 71-75 but most of the tracks are from 72 which were slated to be on the new VDGG album of the same year. While the recordings are from out-takes and rehearsal recordings and were never finished for studio quality recordings, the performances give a glimpse into one of the great prog bands at work running the gamut between tracks completely worthy of studio album glory as well as silly nonsensical experiments. While the material is raw, there were 9 hours of overdubbing just because.

While the majority of tracks had never been released, "Black Room" is a different version than the one found on Hammill's solo album "Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night." One of the pluses of releases such as TIME VAULTS is that since these tidbits were never refined into studio-friendly diamonds, they retain the feisty independent streak in its pure experimental form but also displays how brilliant the band was in all stages of its productive output displaying aspects of the band truly from behind the scenes. For example "Coil Night" featured Hammill on bass and Jackson on piano and is one of the brilliant tracks on the album as is the opening "The Liquidator" which were both worthy of being featured on a VDGG album. "It All Went Red" displays a rare jam where all musicians shine but Guy Evans displays his amazing drumming skills that were never allowed off the leash on the actual albums. While VDGG was pretty much a guitar-free unit in the early years "Rift Valley" found Hammill on electric guitars instead of keyboards and proves to be the hardest rocking album the band ever recorded.

Other tracks are quite quirky and unusual for VDGG and obvious why they were never considered for album inclusion. The cute little number "Tarzan" starts out with a drumbeat that sounds something like "Billie Jean" from Michael Jackson but has a funkier groove. It almost sounds like the band is going into disco territory but instead delivers an interesting progressive rock sound albeit all funked up. The title track is the most experimental piece which is essentially a collage of disparate playful moments. It tackles some free jazz and seems to be wrapped around the piano melodies of the Christmas song "Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer" but it also has snippets of the traditional Wedding March, a few moments of reggae and heaps of psychedelia. It's very much like a monkey-brain stream of consciousness scrolling up and down the radio dial of the mind. "Drift (I Hope It Won't)" is a freeform styled mix of nonsense really with lots of conversation between the members. Overall the quality of the recordings is pretty poor but the strength of the material more than makes this a worthy addition.

It goes without saying that this sort of material is strictly reserved only for the hardcore fans of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR as this has little appeal outside of the staunchly loyal fanbase of which i consider myself a part of. For those inclined, this is an excellent array of rehearsals and experimental pieces not fit for an album but listening to a band of this level at a practice session is still a magical moment and on this one there are ten such moments.. For my interests, there's not a single bad track on this one and if one can forgive the crude unfinished production then there is plenty of VDGG magic mojo in action in a true live setting with only the slightest production as an afterthought to give a little bit of consistency between the tunes. This is a band that was so great that i would gladly pay just to watch a rehearsal and this collection of goodies doesn't disappoint at all considering what it is. True that the phantom masterpiece that lay between "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff" never truly emerged except in snippets that were modified to suit the solo career of Hammill, so in some respects this is the closest it gets the mythical beast that should've been and while it doesn't come close to fulfilling that destiny, it sure is an interesting glimpse into the possibilities.

 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.48 | 2050 ratings

BUY
Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

5 stars Well lets talk Van Der Graaf Generator.

When I was first getting into prog, my friend lent me a stack of albums, one of those albums was Pawn Hearts. I gave it a spin and well.... I hated it.

But I eventually came back around to VDGG and grew to appreciate lemmings, and then the rest of the album which I now consider a 10/10. I had always seen Godbluff on Progarchives but slept on it for months and months. I finally blind purchased a copy of discogs and after dozens of listens, I can safely say this is very much worthy of its rating on this site.

The pure amount of creativity and detail is mind-boggling. Peter Hammill uses his voice as if it was a lead instrument. His delivery is just so terrifyingly creative that I cant get enough of it. This band is almost too prog to be considered prog. This album comes after a long four year hiatus where Hammill went ham (no pun intended!) on the solo albums with the other band members joining him on those albums. The album follows a structure that is essentially four similar length songs ranging from 7:00-10:26 minutes. It's brimming with layers of Organ and Saxophone with a prominent jazz influence that really creates a unique sound for this album.

"The Undercover Man" starts the album off a bit more mellow. There is amazing depth to the instrumentals creating a vast soundscape throughout the song. It is perhaps my favorite on the album. "Scorched Earth" seems to fade together nicely with The Undercover Man. It a bit more on the intense, heavier side of things. Around 3:40, a really sick heavy groove kicks in that is eventually reprised near the end of the song. The third song titled "Arrow," is the other contender for favorite song. We are treated to a nice extended jazzy jam that opens the song getting things going. Once again, this song has a really cool dark groove for the verse that is established by whatever tone Hammill is using on the keys. Along with the verse, the chorus is a highlight of the song. It builds up to an amazing crescendo where Hammill shouts, "swift as any ARRROOOOWWW!" Yeah great song. The final track, "The Sleepwalkers" makes me envision chaotic evil circus music. There's one section that stood out to me right from first listen and its the part around 3:00 minutes in that sounds like surf music for a moment. In typical Van Der Graaf style, it quickly turns dark and speeds up creating one of my favorite moments throughout the album. It is such a complete 180 from everything else on the album that I can't help but adore it. There is an abundance of detail throughout the song that has given me something new to hear on every repeated listen.

The Undercover Man 10/10 Scorched Earth 9/10 Arrow 10/10 The Sleepwalkers 9/10

This album is perfect and an easy 5-Star rating for me.

 Still Life by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.29 | 1499 ratings

BUY
Still Life
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Van der Graaf, second phase.

After Godbluff, comes Still Life.

1) Pilgrims begins with a serene atmosphere, keyboards and vocals, and with a sound quite similar to Godbluff (only drums beat more dryly). The song reaches the pathos in rhythmic progression, when drums and Jackson's sax explode, and the song becomes epic and solemn and tormented, as the songs in The previus record. Rating 8+

2) Still Life. The beginning, voice and keyboards, with church atmosphere, goes on until almost three minutes, risking becoming boring, but luckily then take over the rhythm section and the saxophone. Hammill then sings the same melody but with a raucous, gritty voice, which in some moments becomes epic, but is not adequately supported by musical arrangement. As mentioned for Godbluff, Hammill can no longer reach the high notes without turning his voice into an unpleasant growl. The song, however good, does not take off, paradoxically being the weakest of the album. Rating 7.5

3) After two linear pieces of about 7 minutes, comes a longer and more tortuous piece, more "prog", with continuous rhythm changes and frenzy in the execution. According to many it would be the most engaging piece on the album but personally I find it too hectic. After 4 minutes the rhythm changes completely, becoming slower and relaxed but then begins a progression that leads to an instrumental piece towards 6 minutes, which brings back to the initial rhythm. Hammill's voice often appears choked, the rhythm becomes consulted, hyperexcited. Rating 7,5/8

4) The second side opens with a slow and melodic song, among the most sober of the group, with saxophone, piano, drums in the background, hammill's voice singing on the low notes, and proceeds thus to the end. It looks like a Roxy Music ballad, with a good central solo by Jackson. Pleasant song, perhaps too slow and repetitive, with an excessively long ending. Good, but it doesn't reach the climax. Rating 7.5/8

5) The final piece, the longest is also the one that would like to be more epic. Slow and melodic beginning, then after two minutes the rhythmic progression begins, alternating with more relaxed moments in a grueling and pathetic song, always raucous, that does not touch the sublime vertices of the epic songs of the first albums, but that strives in a great effort. Rating 8.

Still Life is a Godbluff-like disc for sound, arrangement and production, as if it were its second part, with more material, compact but less inspired.

Rating 8+. Four stars.

 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.48 | 2050 ratings

BUY
Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Van Der Graaf Generator disbanded after the Pawn Hearts tour, in 1972, they disappeared when prog-rock exploded, spread: the years 1972, 1973 and 1974 are dominated by progressive rock, and they are not there: they return in 1975, when the prog movement is now the straight of arrival, it is leaving the scenes to punk; as if primitive dinosaurs that appeared in the Triassic disappeared throughout the Jurassic and then returned to the end of the Cretaceous, just before extinction. VdGG returns in a more stripped-down robe (without the mellotron and synths and terrifying sound orgasms of the past), a drier, almost live sound, where the drums are too prominent, and with more linear but still prog songs that are long , with changes in time and atmosphere, and instrumental variations on the theme.

GODBLUFF (1975)

Side A. 1) The undercover man (8+): Slow beginning with a soft, very expressive singing, followed by a beautiful melodic progression dominated again by Hammill's singing (and here it feels like the complex sounds more calmly and more linear than in the past, according to the more classical schemes of a song), then finally comes the instrumental piece and the epic ending ? but the performance does not touch those very high expressionistic summits of pathos of the past.

2) Scorched Earth (8.5/9): More gritty song than the previous, more expressionist, masterpiece of the album, with frightening sound passages reminiscent of the golden days. Hammill's voice does its part, it is the music that does not have the charge of the past, but is unleashed in the paroxysmal ending. Dark and hallucinatory atmosphere.

Side B. 3) Arrow (8+): It starts with a beautiful jazzy instrumental passage (great Banton on the bass guitar), then comes the sound characterized by a rabid, almost snarling chant of Hammill. Throughout the record is missing the wonderful singing on the high, elegiac notes of Hammill, who prefers here to perform in a raucous rant that is not up to par. The atmosphere, in fact, is more of anger than anguish.

4) The Sleepwalkers (8): Song with a sarcastic atmosphere, the only theatrical, with continuous changes of rhythm, at times ironic as a popular dance, sometimes obsessive. It's fine as a final piece to lighten the atmosphere and close in a pyrotechnic way; it is the longest and lightest piece of the album pleasant, even if it lacks a real direction.

VdGG returned to the scene by churning out an album with a very different sound from the previous ones, as did King Crimson with LTIA, overall rough, sober and fuzzy, where Hammill's voice and Banton's keyboards are less prominent. The arrangements and melodies are all too homogeneous and paint a desolate picture of the loss of hope. The four songs all look a bit like each other in various passages. The pieces are all solid and more than good, if not excellent, and on them hovers an existential nightmare, especially in Scorched Earth and Arrow, and only the last song has slight passages. VdGG do not betray themselves, they reproduce with songs inspired and easier to access than in the past but they do not play and no longer sing with that existential urgency of the beginnings, and this partly affected the pathos transmitted by the music, which still remains well present (O God, compared to Yes, EL&P, Genesis the pathos is always very high) but it does not reach the heights of which they are capable.

Average: 8.15 Great album, small masterpiece, five stars.

Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives