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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Van Der Graaf Generator biography
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 recordings, some of which are seen as 'lost VdGG albums'. VdGG would directly influence a lot of Italian progressive acts, a country in which they were particularly well received. The band stopped performing in its clas...
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Do Not DisturbDo Not Disturb
Import
Esoteric Antenna 2016
Audio CD$8.62
$7.93 (used)
Pawn HeartsPawn Hearts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
Audio CD$4.43
$4.38 (used)
H To He Who Am I The Only OneH To He Who Am I The Only One
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
Audio CD$4.43
$4.38 (used)
Classic AlbumsClassic Albums
Import
EMI International 2012
Audio CD$15.26
$13.82 (used)
After the Flood-The BBC 1968-77After the Flood-The BBC 1968-77
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$8.23
$9.72 (used)
GodbluffGodbluff
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$4.43
$4.38 (used)
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each OtherThe Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
Audio CD$4.66
$4.75 (used)
World RecordWorld Record
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Virgin / Charisma 2005
Audio CD$4.43
$5.00 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$4.43
$3.43 (used)
AltAlt
Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$5.69
$5.68 (used)
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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)

3.26 | 539 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.05 | 888 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
1970
4.31 | 1408 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.42 | 1863 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.49 | 1747 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.29 | 1290 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.83 | 663 ratings
World Record
1976
3.64 | 566 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.65 | 445 ratings
Present
2005
3.52 | 426 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.42 | 421 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.47 | 194 ratings
ALT
2012
3.65 | 112 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

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

3.77 | 239 ratings
Vital
1978
4.09 | 122 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.09 | 163 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.65 | 76 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
3.52 | 37 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.84 | 45 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.44 | 30 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

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

4.11 | 99 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
3.86 | 7 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.13 | 25 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.15 | 7 ratings
Live Broadcasts - Collector's Rarities
2006
3.97 | 51 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
4.52 | 32 ratings
Live at Metropolis Studios
2011

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

3.66 | 32 ratings
68-71
1972
4.33 | 3 ratings
Repeat Performance
1972
3.33 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.50 | 2 ratings
Rock Heavies
1978
2.31 | 53 ratings
Time Vaults
1982
3.44 | 60 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.41 | 44 ratings
Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
1986
2.15 | 38 ratings
Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans)
1988
3.31 | 51 ratings
I Prophesy Disaster
1993
3.91 | 63 ratings
The Box
2000
3.47 | 17 ratings
An Introduction
2000
4.50 | 2 ratings
First Generation / Godbluff
2012

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

2.54 | 16 ratings
People You Were Going To / Firebrand
1969
4.08 | 20 ratings
Afterwards / Necromancer
1969
4.58 | 24 ratings
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
1970
3.63 | 27 ratings
Theme One / W
1972
3.81 | 16 ratings
Masks Part 1 / Masks Part 2
1976
4.47 | 17 ratings
Wondering / Meurglys III
1976
4.11 | 18 ratings
Cat's Eye
1977
1.69 | 17 ratings
The Masters
1998
3.00 | 5 ratings
Highly Strung
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 566 ratings

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

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review Nş 108

After Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd, in my humble opinion, Van Der Graaf Generator is with Camel, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Rush, one of the best 70's progressive groups and is also one of the bands that most influenced the movement of the progressive rock music. Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 at Manchester University, but soon they were settled in London. They quickly become a celebrated progressive rock band with a very dedicated cult following. However, they never achieved the fame of many of their compatriot bands.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is the eighth studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1977. It's an album that marks several, severe and profound changes into the group and into their music too. In the first place, the band shortened their name to Van Der Graaf, which wasn't a usual thing. In the second place, at the end of 1976, following their previous studio album 'World Record' released in 1976, first Hugh Banton and later David Jackson departed from the band. In the third place, the previous bass player of the group Nic Potter returned to the band, supposedly to replace Banton. In the fourth place, the violinist Graham Smith formerly member of the progressive folk band String Driven Thing was called to replace Jackson. Finally, the last but not the least change, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' was Van Der Graaf Generator's last studio album before their 2005 reunion. Thanks God it happened.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Peter Hammill except the sixth track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' which was written by Hammill and Smith. The album is clearly divided into two distinct parts, 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome'. The first part, 'The Quiet Zone' has four tracks. The first track 'Lizard Play' is a song with some very peculiar rhythm and with a very interesting violin work. This is a good song to open the album and telling us that the band's sound has changed. The second track 'The Habit Of The Broken Heart' is also a good track and is essentially an acoustic song commanded by acoustic guitar. The sound of the organ is very subtle, quiet and nice. The third track 'The Siren Song' is a song very calm and beautiful conducted by piano and violin. It's a very melancholic and acoustic song with deep vocals and a nice violin work. This is a song where the sound came direct from the past keeping the same dark musical atmosphere from their previous albums. Somehow, it seems to me a kind of a reminiscent of 'Pilgrims'. The fourth track 'Last Frame' is another song, and like the previous track, also makes a return to the past. It's my favourite track on 'The Quiet Zone' side of the album. It has a great Smith's violin work with some acoustic parts, and is also a song with a very dark musical atmosphere which makes of it a truly fantastic track to close the first part of the album. The second part, 'The Pleasure Dome' has five tracks. The first track 'The Wave' which opens the second part of the album is a very calm, melancholic and a beautiful song in the same vein of Van Der Graaf Generator's songs with good lyrics. It's very well sung by Hammill, and it's also conducted by piano and violin. This is the shortest track on the album, very melodious and tranquil. The second track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' is my favourite song on the album. It has a fantastic violin work which fully demonstrates the technical virtuosity of Smith with his violin, which raises this song to the perfection of a masterpiece. This is a very frantic song very heavy on violin and bass and with a kind of an excessive vocal approach by Hammill. By itself, this track deserves the purchase of the album. The third track 'The Sphinx In The Face' is the dynamic rocker song on the album representing in a way the Van Der Graaf Generator's heaviest moment on it. The fourth track 'Chemical World' is another good song on the album, with good working on violin by Smith and it has also a good classic guitar melody. This is a very dark song with a moody sound that helps to give to the album a very unique feel. The fifth track 'The Sphinx Returns' is a reprise of 'The Sphinx In The Face' and concludes and closes the album in a very interesting way.

Conclusion: After take a look at various reviews of the album, it's interesting to note that there are different points of views. Not so much about the quality of the album, in general they're favourable, but about the favourite side of the album and their best songs. For me, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is a very good album of Van Der Graaf Generator but it's also a strange and an exotic album. It's musically divided into two parts and has a different sound mainly due to the changes into their line up. Despite 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome' be two distinct parts, the album is very balanced in its quality level. My favourite tracks on the album are 'The Siren Song', 'Last Frame', 'The Wave' and especially 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)'. In relation to the changes into their line up, it's clearly evident the lack of the keyboards of Banton and the saxophones and flute of Jackson. However, both Smith and Potter made a terrific job. So, for me, it remains a great work of the group, especially in that historical and critical context.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.65 | 112 ratings

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Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Is this VDGG's final act? I would be very surprised if this isn't their last studio album, especially with how reflective this album is and the lyrics seem to point to this. I think for me that's part of my faults with this record as it comes across almost like a dirge overall with the vocals being the focus much of the time. Some have said this is more like a Peter Hammill solo album which I can appreciate. On the final track "Go" Peter sings "Time to leave, close the door" and it ends with these final words "It's time to let go" and I have to say this is a sad record, it really is. Of course even the album's title and cover indicate retirement.

David Jackson is not here so they're a trio like on the last album. They have added a lot of complex passages despite how reflective this often is which is why I picked this up in the first place, I was curious. "Present" was their first comeback album and by far my favourite of this last period of the band. I also have to say that there's a line in the song "Alfa Berlina" that for me sums up why so many bands from the golden era fail to make anything close to what they did when they were young and those words are "But when I think about the way it was we were recklessly alive." That fire and passion of youth and just starting out can't be bottled or bought and it's rare, really rare to see in an older band.

"Aloft" and the next track are my two favourites. This starts out as one of those reflective songs as fragile vocals join the relaxed guitar and cymbal melody a minute in. A change though after 2 1/2 minutes as it picks up with organ, accordion, drums and vocals. A third theme arrives that's nastier and more passionate. That second theme is back at 4 1/2 minutes before the opening theme returns to end it at 6 1/2 minutes. An inventive tune. "Alfa Berlina" is experimental to start with lots of samples. Spoken vocals in atmosphere will take over before we get the main melody before 1 1/2 minutes. The lyrics are so meaningful. A change 4 minutes in as it turns experimental and sparse again and the spoken vocals return like earlier. Back to the main melody a minute later. "Room 1210" is mellow with piano, cymbals and reserved vocals. Accordion and drums join in as well. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes with a brighter mood. It continues to change though as it calms down after 3 1/2 minutes.

"Forever Falling" is one I can't get into. A catchy beat to start as the vocals join in. The vocals are faster paced 2 minutes in as is the punchy instrumental work. Back to that opening theme before 4 minutes to the end. "Shikata Ga Nai" is almost haunting, kind of exotic too while a chamber music vibe is felt in this dark piece. "(Oh No! I Must Have Said)Yes" is one I can't get into with that abrasive sound with heavy drums. It changes though to a surprising jazzy motif before 3 minutes but then this abrasive guitar starts to come and go over top that I don't like. "Brought To Book" is mellow with a beat, piano and reserved vocals. Organ and drums arrive as it picks up around 2 minutes, vocals too. Back to the opening theme a minute later then it kicks in to a higher gear but the tempo will continue to shift.

"Almost The Words" is a sad dirge-like tune with sad vocals, piano, percussion and atmosphere. A change at 4 1/2 minutes as fast paced keys and drums take over as multi-vocals come in over top. The organ kicks in before 6 1/2 minutes with prominent bass and drums. I want more of this last part because I feel that's what's missing here and these guys can deliver but I think it's more about the farewell. And speaking of farewell the final song is "Go" which opens with spacey organ and sounds before these fragile vocals join in around a minute.

A sad and reflective album that doesn't scratch that itch for me but it comes across as being a must-have considering the circumstances. For the music 3 stars for lyrics 4 stars.

 The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 888 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As the second album and the first proper [or progressive] work by an extraordinary band on the way of finding its real outstanding essence, this is to VDGG's discography what Trespass is to Genesis, VDGG's labelmates in the newly found Charisma. I have given the latter a full rate here (which I maybe shouldn't have done, on second thought), but to me personally The Least We Can Do doesn't quite have the same aura of a classic criminally overshadowed by the albums that followed it. Nor is the artistic progress from the debut quite as impressive as in the case of Genesis, even if Aerosol Grey Machine was originally intended to be Peter Hammill's solo album. Further similarities with Trespass: both contain six tracks (3+3) and are produced by John Anthony. The Least... was recorded in December 1969 and was released in February 1970, whereas Trespass was recorded in the following summer and released in October.

The long title is adapted from the words "We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" by John Minton, a British painter. The apocalyptic theme -- captured also in the cover art -- refers mostly to the final track 'After the Flood', in which Hammill cites Albert Einstein, who was worried about the arms race of Americans and Russians. Quietly starting 'Darkness (11/11)' opens the album effectively. I've always wondered about the '11/11'; Wikipedia says it comes from being written on 11 November 1968. 'Refugees' stands out in the VDGG output as a romantic ballad that Hammill wrote for his ex-flatmates Mike and Susie. It's very accessible also for the vocals, and its slightly sentimental passion is impressive. The mysterious 'White Hammer' was inspired by Medieval witchcraft; genuine VDGG all the way! The whole A side is excellent, but the B side is more uneven.

The title 'Whatever Would Robert Have Said?' refers to Robert J. Van de Graaff, the inventor of the Van de Graaff generator that the group took their name from. This is the least succesful track on this album, I think. 'Out of My Book' is even more tender and "pretty" song than 'Refugees', perhaps a bit lame but beautiful nevertheless, especially for the flute of David Jackson. 'After the Flood' is doubtlessly the most progressive and strongest composition of the six. However, it's not among my favourite epics from VDGG. All in all, what was to follow is SO much more impressive that this deserves "only" four stars.

 H To He, Who Am The Only One by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.31 | 1408 ratings

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H To He, Who Am The Only One
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Scorpius

4 stars Would Give a 4.5 But Can't. Hot off the trail of their second album "The Least We Can Do...", Van Der Graaf Generator comes at the listener with full force in this epic 45 minute album. Although it is still a little rough around the edges, this album can be considered as one of VDGG's best. Song topics include feelings of depression and loneliness (aka an everyday walk in the park for Hammill).

Killer starts off the album, and it does so flawlessly. This track, about a shark who kills everything and then gets lonely, is considered a staple of the band's live set, and a staple of their discography in general. Its a jarring, proggy mini-epic that deserves all the recognition it gets.

The House With No Door slows things down a bit, though still discusses the same depressing topic as Killer. I personally prefer this track over the former, but both are amazing. This track is piano and vocal-led, and features some of Hammills best vocal performances to date.

The Emperor in His War Room is the next track, and an epic one at that. Fun Fact: This track features King Crimsons Robert Fripp on guitar, and boy does he play his guitar. The inclusion of Fripps searing, epic solo was a smart choice on the bands part to evolve the sound of the song that much further. The song itself has an interesting topic matter: It is about an emperor who tortures people and starts wars, but the ghosts of those he killed come back to haunt him. Amazing track.

Lost is another great track, if not a little too long. It may drag at times, but man, this track is amazing, Featuring some of Hammills most straightforward songwriting, the band had to go back and add instrumental passages to add to the song length and depth. An amzing and strange track, but like I mentioned, they could have cut the song length by 2 minutes and still gotten the point and effect of the song across.

Pioneers Over c is a nice epic and a great way to end an amazing album. I have the same problem with this track as I do with Lost, though, I feel it can drag a bit at times. Nevertheless, it is a great track and a great addition to the album.

I hope you enjoyed my review of H to He, Who Am the Only One! - Scorpius

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.65 | 112 ratings

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Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by UncleRust

5 stars I have been a VDGG fan for nearly a decade now and each time they do a release I wonder if it will be their last.

My wife hates them, which has given me pause, mostly about my wife's taste and the either direct or indirect reflection of said taste in relation to my personal characteristics. There can be nothing about me that is any better than this, VDGG's most recent cd, so I am in no way able to really assert as to the sanity of my wife. Therefore, I cannot fairly consider her judgement of Do Not Disturb as being of any significance. I do hope that she does not leave me over this.

Anyway, this is an incredibly well conceived and recorded group of songs. No, there is no modern version of Plague, but why should there be? We already have that. No, this time, we have medium length, but very dense songs. Incredible melodies, odd singing, crazy rhythms, wonderful textures, and a sense of uncertainty and confidence that only seems to come with age.

I generally prefer the non-guitar tracks as that "who needs guitars as a main instrument" vibe without the silly keyboard antics of other acts (they know who they are) is what initially drove me to love their early 70s work.

I truly hope this is not their last. But if it is, I wish I could live forever so I could listen to it more.

P.S. In-case this helps give you context of my opinions expressed somewhat unclearly above, the only work of theirs that I consider less than at least 4 stars is, well, there are two; Present and Alt.

Have a nice day (if you want to; I certainly have no authority over you; it is only a suggestion).

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.65 | 112 ratings

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Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars I love Van Der Graaf Generator and feel they can do no wrong. With this new release, they try to make more complex musical arrangements. The newer music always sounds closer to Peter Hammill solo material than the signature sound established and solidified in the 70s. Maybe the lack of sax or super long proggy tracks is what is lacking, but Do Not Disturb is an enjoyable album nonetheless. While I would love to hear them try something bigger, I am always happy to have more. I can listen to their very special 70s output anytime I want, so I am not complaining. Do Not Disturb is a solid release.

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.65 | 112 ratings

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Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by desistindo

3 stars A good album, but nothing spectacular. There are beautiful melodies and great moments here and there, but the album, as a whole, lacks force. The good old VDGG still this note here, with the creativity of harmonies, melodies, rhythmic session, complex times, elegant arrangements, beautiful lyrics. Also it is a very well recorded album. What makes me give only 3 stars, as I said before, is the lack of strength, lack of vitality of the musicians in the performance of these good compositions (which is forgivable given the age of the guys). Listen to this album gives a certain sense of want to hear it live, with more energy, more powerfull. But still it's an album that's worth for every lover of VDGG / Peter Hammill. In short: another decent album from a band who almost makes no mistakes.

Ps: Sorry friends. I was wrong about the bonus track. As I downloaded the album on the Internet, it came with the title of Special Edition, with the bonus track. I did not mean to spread rumors, I just believed in what I downloaded. I retreat the wrong information, I apologize to the band and the fans, I should have researched on the internet about this issue before publishing the review. No more, I keep my review.

 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.49 | 1747 ratings

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Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The resurrection of Van Der Graaf Generator

Fans of alternative prog, rejoice! After four years of silence, Peter Hammill, David Jackson, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans unexpectedly reunite in 1975 and simply offer one of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's best albums! "Godbluff" inaugurates the band's second era in the mid-70's and proves that miracles exist. After "Pawn Hearts", Hammill started a solo career and his works were a bit different from VdGG's style. Same goes for the other members, who released average jazz-rock albums, under the name "The Long Hello", without their singer. These three separation years thus demonstrates that Peter Hammill is not VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR all by himself, and, vice-versa, that VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR cannot exist without its lead vocalist.

Composed of four mini-epics, "Godbluff" is their first self-produced opus, as well as their most accessible. Again, the music, somber depressive, tortured and dominated by keyboards and saxophone instead of guitars, investigates the depths of the human mind. This time, the atmosphere is maybe even more bitter and aggressive than on "Pawn Hearts". In addition of his raging and theatrical voice, Hammill makes an important usage of clavinet and Jackson's saxes are literally possessed here. Also featuring various changes and complex rhythms, the songs are perhaps a little less demanding than those of VdGG's first era, but still as interesting, creative and touching.

Opening with whispering vocals and saxophone, "The Undercover Man" is sad and beautiful. Melodies to cry for. The tension then rises with the raging and somber "Scorched Earth". After its heroic overture, the music goes crescendo, stronger to conclude with a surprising distorted guitar section. A powerful track, driven by the organ and Jackson's demented sax.

Do not trust the ambient free jazz introduction of "Arrow": this song is the most violent and darkest of the record, but also the maybe the most heartbreaking. A magnificent explosion of mastered wilderness! Back to calm with the more melodic "The Sleepwalkers" and its strange bossa-nova interlude. This ethereal ender contains also quite spacey keyboards and a grandiose finale. Epic!

Out of time, "Godbluff" is much more than just the return of a major progressive band, it's a miraculous resurrection, a musical black meteorite darker than most other disc of the same time-period. Each track is superb and offers its own variety of ambiances. A little gem of tortured and frightening impressions, so human...

Most accessible record from the band, this fifth opus is definitely the one to start with for newcomers. "Godbluff" is a masterpiece of depressive prog, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's creative peak, with "Pawn Hearts" of course...

 Pawn Hearts by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.42 | 1863 ratings

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Pawn Hearts
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Heart touching progressive music

Fourth opus by Peter Hammill and co., "Pawn Hearts" marks the end of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's first era as well as its pinnacle. After three interesting but somehow uneven and still experimental albums, the band fully defines its own musical identity and proudly enters the heights of the progressive sphere, in 1971. Driven by saxophone and keyboards instead of guitars, their style and sound are unique, tortured and delicate, depressive and beautiful, exploring the depths of the human mind. This was completely different from what other prog bands were proposing at the time.

Initially planned as a double album, only the first half of the recordings was finally released as "Pawn Hearts". These three lengthy, sophisticated and varied songs were composed one year before major progressive milestones such YES' "Close to the Edge" or GENESIS' "Supper's Ready". Maybe not as accessible as the aforementioned suites, but certainly as inspired and magical.

The first mini-epic sets immediately the tone. Oppressive and frightening, "Lemmings" offers complex structures and rhythm breaks for calm floating passages and plaintive anguishing moments. Organ and saxophone create a particular troubled watery atmosphere that supports perfectly Hammill's haunting and aerial vocals. Great, easily one of the best tracks from VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR! "Man Erg" is a musical transcription of our internal conflict between good and evil. The first part alternate melancholic and glorious passages representing the opposition of the "angels" and the "killers" inside us. Opening like a piano ballad with a beautiful melody, the pace suddenly accelerates, the instruments start a brutal fury illustrating the battle between the two entities. Cosmic and jazzy ambiances then interlace until the rhythm slow downs for the ballad reprise and a quite terrifying finale. What a journey!

The record concludes with THE VdGG epic, the band's "Supper's Ready" before it even exists: the satiric "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers". The story narrates the helplessness of a lighthouse keeper to save the stranded bodies on the coast. Its spacey powerful overture mutates into a mysterious sonic chaos, letting the listener lost through the immensity of the sea. Unpredictable, this suite features numerous changes, slow and fast sections. Sublime, dark, touching, depressive, demented are one of the few adjectives that could describe this unbelievable piece. Beware: combined with Peter Hammill's possessed voice, you'll find yourself at the gates of despair and delirium. The finale is just not of this world...

Although lesser-known compared to the other progressive milestone records, "Pawn Hearts" shines like a lighthouse inside the night of the obscure side of prog. A creative and pioneering album, that may have influenced the representative bands of the genre in 1971. The songs offers a wide range of different atmospheres as well as delightful melodies to cry for. No weak passages, every section stands at its right place.

Demanding, intimidating but not the least accessible from the band, "Pawn Hearts" is undoubtedly VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's best album, with "Godbluff". An essential and major opus, resembling no other. If you don't know Hammill and co., you'll discover a new universe of truly progressive 'non-rock' music. You may not fully appreciate it at first listen, but its treasures will reveal themselves over time...

This fourth effort will gain a surprising success in Italy. One year later, Peter Hammill will embrace a solo career and other members will go their way. Fans of this unconventional prog will have to wait three years until the band reunites...

 After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977 by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 2015
4.44 | 30 ratings

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After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars You get a real sense of how long ago Van Der Graaf Generator started with recordings going back to 1968. Considering I was born a year earlier, I actually have not had a chance to appreciate their body of work until my prog loving adulthood. The double disc has some of the best performances that you will ever hear from the band. It is so unfortunate that a few tracks suffer from poor sound quality, but they really improve as the years move along. Van Der Graaf Generator was so far ahead of its time, and this is an excellent showcase of their early catalog. I would call After the Flood an absolutely essential release for any fan of the band, and a non-studio album must purchase along with Vital.
Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to Snow Dog for the last updates

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