Van Der Graaf Generator

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The Slider
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby The Slider » 21 Sep 2021, 15:11

Everything about VDGG is horrible.
I feel harangued every time I play them
A deeply unpleasant racket
Complete Prince Mp3 set - on a purple usb drive - available in the usual place if anyone wants it
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 21 Sep 2021, 18:38

The Slider wrote:Everything about VDGG is horrible.
I feel harangued every time I play them
A deeply unpleasant racket


I once knew a lad who said 'he didn't like being shouted at....!'




.
slightbreeze wrote:
C wrote:Will Barclay James Harvest feature well.....?

If we get as far as a top 100, I'd certainly consider it

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 21 Sep 2021, 21:45

Image
H to He Who am the Only One 1970
Another leap in quality from the previous LP, just like Nursery Cryme from Trespass, VDGG reach a sort of apex here perhaps only bettered by next year's Pawn Hearts. They were light years ahead of most progressive rock bands in 1970. I mean, think about it - who else released two albums of this quality in the same calendar year?

Peter Hammill – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano on "House with No Door"
David Jackson – alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone and devices, flute, vocals
Hugh Banton – Hammond and Farfisa organs, piano, oscillator, vocals; bass guitar on "House with No Door" and "Pioneers Over c."
Guy Evans – drums, tympani, percussion
Nic Potter – bass guitar on "Killer", "The Emperor in His War Room", "Lost", and "The Emperor in His War Room (First version)"

Additional personnel
Robert Fripp – guitar on "The Emperor in His War Room"

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill, except where indicated.

1. "Killer" (Peter Hammill, Chris Judge Smith, Hugh Banton) 8:24
Fucking awesome track which sounds like it could be nascent metal had there been guitars hammering that riff. Quite possibly my fave Van Der Graaf song, and certainly my favorite on this record.

"The first song to be attempted was "Killer", which came out of a rehearsal that attempted to join fragments of songs together in a deliberate attempt to create something that would be commercially successful. The track was a composite of a basic song structure written by group leader Peter Hammill in 1968, an old song written by founding member Judge Smith called "A Cloud as Big as a Man's Hand", and a rock riff composed by organist Hugh Banton that he later said was influenced by The Move's "Brontosaurus". The lyrics referred to a shark in the ocean, who becomes lonely through killing everything. "Killer" quickly became a live favorite with fans, and the group's signature track." - Wiki

2. "House with No Door" 6:37
A much gentler aspect to this number, almost as a reprieve from the previous tune. Hammill's images of loneliness pervade the lyrics, which would be a common theme from now on. Nice piano accompaniment and a steady beat ground this song, making it quite memorable. Cool flutes too! Wikipedia: "The last track to be written for the album was "House with No Door". Hammill wrote the song on piano, which was about someone who had difficulty forming friendships and was unable to have meaningful contact with other people. The song is one of several by Hammill to use a house as a metaphor, which would be revisited in subsequent solo work."

3. "The Emperor in His War Room" a. "The Emperor" b. "The Room" 8:15
This one also starts in a more meditative manner and manages to combine the intensity of the first cut and the slower tempo of the second. Except it's not always so contemplative in texture. "Emperor" is a major VDGG song and illustrates Peter's ability to write from a different perspective than his own, in this case a dictator consumed with the ghosts of his past deeds.

Wiki - "Hammill wrote "The Emperor in His War Room" about a tyrant who tortures people indiscriminately but is ultimately haunted by those he has tormented. The music joined together two different sections, a sombre opening and closing combined with a bass-driven rock section in the middle. Hammill wanted King Crimson's guitarist and bandleader Robert Fripp to play on "The Emperor In His War Room". Fripp had never played as a session musician at that point, but had enjoyed listening to The Least We Can Do ... and was persuaded to take part by producer John Anthony. Jackson recalled that Fripp "set up all of his stuff, put his headphones on, and started searing away." Fripp played the guitar part twice, having never heard the track before, and a composite of both takes appears on the final recording. Fripp has subsequently introduced Anthony as "the guy who gave me my first session" at events. Fripp would collaborate again with Van der Graaf Generator on their next album, Pawn Hearts, released the following year."

Image

4. "Lost" a. "The Dance in Sand and Sea" b. "The Dance in Frost" 11:17
Very progressive in its use of different time signatures. All of these cuts count, and there isn't even a hint of filler on this album. I think the band's reputation has only grown in recent years to the point that an album like this is considered a classic in many prog circles (not sure about BCB though). Listen how it becomes almost an entirely different song once the horns come in. Then Peter starts singing again and the disparity is like night and day. "Lost" was, uncharacteristically for the band, a straightforward song about lost love and the group added several different instrumental sections into the basic structure." - Wikipedia


5. "Pioneers Over c" (Peter Hammill, David Jackson) 12:42
More awesomeness as our heroes endeavor to bring a sci fi theme to the proceedings. The longest track on the record is a fan fave and it's intense in much the same manner as "Killer" without being so bombastic. Love the changes, lyrics, and use of different instruments to create an atmosphere unlike that of songs from other bands. Some of you came out in favor of The Least We Could Do is Wave to Each Other as a personal fave, and as great as it is, I like this album better.

Wiki - "Pioneers Over c" was co-written by Hammill and saxophonist David Jackson. The song had a strong science fiction element and was about a group of astronauts who managed to travel faster than the speed of light (hence the "c" in the title). As a result, they go into a time warp, experiencing a "living death" where time passes in a nonlinear fashion, and are unable to return to Earth. The whole band helped with the arrangement, coming up with musical themes to match the lyrical theme of isolation and fear. Immediately after a show, bassist Nic Potter quit the band, before the album was completed (he played on the already recorded tracks "Killer", "The Emperor in His War Room" and "Lost"). The group quickly auditioned Dave Anderson, roadie for Brinsley Schwarz who knew Van der Graaf Generator socially, but the group struggled during rehearsals to form a cohesive sound. As an alternative, Banton, who had a background in classical and church organ music, suggested he could simply play all the bass parts on bass pedals instead, purchasing a Hammond organ to augment his existing Farfisa. Anderson was retained as a roadie. To further expand the sound, Jackson started working with electric saxophones, playing them through effects boxes including a wah-wah.

Banton decided to play bass guitar as well as organ for the remaining studio sessions, being familiar with the instrument. "Pioneers Over c" was recorded in sections in the studio, then edited together, making it impossible to perform live in concert. Banton used an oscillator as a musical device to complement that track's lyrical theme. By contrast, "House with No Door" was mostly put down live. The group found the sessions enjoyable despite some of the downbeat themes present on the album, and all found fun in some of the esoteric sounds they were creating."
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Neil Jung » 21 Sep 2021, 22:39

I may have overstated my disdain for the band as I do have an original Charisma pink label version of H To He and I will admit that Killer is a erm, killer track. I first heard it on the Charisma Disturbance double sampler which was a fine intro to the label, despite its worrying cover.
[indistinct chatter]

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 23 Sep 2021, 16:44

Matt Wilson wrote:Image
H to He Who am the Only One 1970
Another leap in quality from the previous LP, just like Nursery Cryme from Trespass, VDGG reach a sort of apex here perhaps only bettered by next year's Pawn Hearts. They were light years ahead of most progressive rock bands in 1970. I mean, think about it - who else released two albums of this quality in the same calendar year?

Peter Hammill – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano on "House with No Door"
David Jackson – alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone and devices, flute, vocals
Hugh Banton – Hammond and Farfisa organs, piano, oscillator, vocals; bass guitar on "House with No Door" and "Pioneers Over c."
Guy Evans – drums, tympani, percussion
Nic Potter – bass guitar on "Killer", "The Emperor in His War Room", "Lost", and "The Emperor in His War Room (First version)"

Additional personnel
Robert Fripp – guitar on "The Emperor in His War Room"

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill, except where indicated.

1. "Killer" (Peter Hammill, Chris Judge Smith, Hugh Banton) 8:24
Fucking awesome track which sounds like it could be nascent metal had there been guitars hammering that riff. Quite possibly my fave Van Der Graaf song, and certainly my favorite on this record.

"The first song to be attempted was "Killer", which came out of a rehearsal that attempted to join fragments of songs together in a deliberate attempt to create something that would be commercially successful. The track was a composite of a basic song structure written by group leader Peter Hammill in 1968, an old song written by founding member Judge Smith called "A Cloud as Big as a Man's Hand", and a rock riff composed by organist Hugh Banton that he later said was influenced by The Move's "Brontosaurus". The lyrics referred to a shark in the ocean, who becomes lonely through killing everything. "Killer" quickly became a live favorite with fans, and the group's signature track." - Wiki

2. "House with No Door" 6:37
A much gentler aspect to this number, almost as a reprieve from the previous tune. Hammill's images of loneliness pervade the lyrics, which would be a common theme from now on. Nice piano accompaniment and a steady beat ground this song, making it quite memorable. Cool flutes too! Wikipedia: "The last track to be written for the album was "House with No Door". Hammill wrote the song on piano, which was about someone who had difficulty forming friendships and was unable to have meaningful contact with other people. The song is one of several by Hammill to use a house as a metaphor, which would be revisited in subsequent solo work."

3. "The Emperor in His War Room" a. "The Emperor" b. "The Room" 8:15
This one also starts in a more meditative manner and manages to combine the intensity of the first cut and the slower tempo of the second. Except it's not always so contemplative in texture. "Emperor" is a major VDGG song and illustrates Peter's ability to write from a different perspective than his own, in this case a dictator consumed with the ghosts of his past deeds.

Wiki - "Hammill wrote "The Emperor in His War Room" about a tyrant who tortures people indiscriminately but is ultimately haunted by those he has tormented. The music joined together two different sections, a sombre opening and closing combined with a bass-driven rock section in the middle. Hammill wanted King Crimson's guitarist and bandleader Robert Fripp to play on "The Emperor In His War Room". Fripp had never played as a session musician at that point, but had enjoyed listening to The Least We Can Do ... and was persuaded to take part by producer John Anthony. Jackson recalled that Fripp "set up all of his stuff, put his headphones on, and started searing away." Fripp played the guitar part twice, having never heard the track before, and a composite of both takes appears on the final recording. Fripp has subsequently introduced Anthony as "the guy who gave me my first session" at events. Fripp would collaborate again with Van der Graaf Generator on their next album, Pawn Hearts, released the following year."

Image

4. "Lost" a. "The Dance in Sand and Sea" b. "The Dance in Frost" 11:17
Very progressive in its use of different time signatures. All of these cuts count, and there isn't even a hint of filler on this album. I think the band's reputation has only grown in recent years to the point that an album like this is considered a classic in many prog circles (not sure about BCB though). Listen how it becomes almost an entirely different song once the horns come in. Then Peter starts singing again and the disparity is like night and day. "Lost" was, uncharacteristically for the band, a straightforward song about lost love and the group added several different instrumental sections into the basic structure." - Wikipedia


5. "Pioneers Over c" (Peter Hammill, David Jackson) 12:42
More awesomeness as our heroes endeavor to bring a sci fi theme to the proceedings. The longest track on the record is a fan fave and it's intense in much the same manner as "Killer" without being so bombastic. Love the changes, lyrics, and use of different instruments to create an atmosphere unlike that of songs from other bands. Some of you came out in favor of The Least We Could Do is Wave to Each Other as a personal fave, and as great as it is, I like this album better.

Wiki - "Pioneers Over c" was co-written by Hammill and saxophonist David Jackson. The song had a strong science fiction element and was about a group of astronauts who managed to travel faster than the speed of light (hence the "c" in the title). As a result, they go into a time warp, experiencing a "living death" where time passes in a nonlinear fashion, and are unable to return to Earth. The whole band helped with the arrangement, coming up with musical themes to match the lyrical theme of isolation and fear. Immediately after a show, bassist Nic Potter quit the band, before the album was completed (he played on the already recorded tracks "Killer", "The Emperor in His War Room" and "Lost"). The group quickly auditioned Dave Anderson, roadie for Brinsley Schwarz who knew Van der Graaf Generator socially, but the group struggled during rehearsals to form a cohesive sound. As an alternative, Banton, who had a background in classical and church organ music, suggested he could simply play all the bass parts on bass pedals instead, purchasing a Hammond organ to augment his existing Farfisa. Anderson was retained as a roadie. To further expand the sound, Jackson started working with electric saxophones, playing them through effects boxes including a wah-wah.

Banton decided to play bass guitar as well as organ for the remaining studio sessions, being familiar with the instrument. "Pioneers Over c" was recorded in sections in the studio, then edited together, making it impossible to perform live in concert. Banton used an oscillator as a musical device to complement that track's lyrical theme. By contrast, "House with No Door" was mostly put down live. The group found the sessions enjoyable despite some of the downbeat themes present on the album, and all found fun in some of the esoteric sounds they were creating."
Image



Nice write up to one of their best albums




.
slightbreeze wrote:
C wrote:Will Barclay James Harvest feature well.....?

If we get as far as a top 100, I'd certainly consider it

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 23 Sep 2021, 17:51

My 4th favourite by them

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 23 Sep 2021, 18:35

slightbreeze wrote:My 4th favourite by them


Agreed lad

Agreed




.
slightbreeze wrote:
C wrote:Will Barclay James Harvest feature well.....?

If we get as far as a top 100, I'd certainly consider it

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 25 Sep 2021, 04:00

Image
Pawn Hearts 1971
Dark, twisted, existential prog which is anything but easy-listening. But give it time and the rewards are unique lemme tell ya. The first album of theirs I ever heard or owned. Hammill utilizes themes which were developed on the previous two LPs but develops them to their full potential. Isolation, the feeling of not belonging, or not being right, pervades the lyrics, and Peter's delivery is cold and precise. This is not music designed to bring in the punters, rather they're preaching to the converted. There's no way anyone in the Van der Graaf camp ever thought any of these three tracks would get airplay. Exercises in sound, melancholy, dread, and loneliness. A three-cut record before The Yes Album, it out-demonizes Crimson, an exorcism before the movie - it was a peak, a plateau, and the band took a years-long break after its completion. I can see why, where are you going to go after something like this? Like when Gabriel left Genesis after The Lamb Lies Down... It had been done, it had been said. All you could do was repeat yourself after a statement like Pawn Hearts, that or go commercial - and these guys didn't then and don't now have the abilities to do that.


They would regroup though, with the Godbluff album, but that's for later...

Peter Hammill – lead and backing vocals, piano, Hohner pianet, acoustic and slide guitar
David Jackson – tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, flute, vocals
Hugh Banton – Hammond E & C and Farfisa Professional organs, piano, Mellotron, ARP synthesizer, bass pedals, bass guitar, psychedelic razor, vocals
Guy Evans – drums, timpani, percussion, piano

Additional personnel
Robert Fripp – electric guitar on "Lemmings (Including 'Cog')", "Man-Erg", and "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers"

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill, except where indicated.

1. "Lemmings (Including 'Cog')" 11:35
Peter is singing in a falsetto at first until his natural style begins. A treatise on despondency, isolation, an inability to walk the same path that most choose, the urgency is overwhelming. It's the first cut and already it's evident the band has grown since the last album." What cause is there left but to die?"

Wiki - "The songs for the album were worked out while on tour in 1971, with further development and arranging at manager Tony Stratton-Smith's house in Crowborough, Sussex over a two-month period. The original plan had been to release more material, making up a double album, but Charisma vetoed the idea. A non-album single, "Theme One" was included on some releases in the US and Canada. The album's strong commercial showing in Italy resulted in a number of lucrative promotional tours there, but the resulting pressure led to the band's split in August 1972."

"Recording ran from July to September 1971 in Trident Studios. In addition to the band and Anthony, Robin Cable, David Hentschel and Ken Scott helped with engineering. The first tracks to be recorded were "Theme One", a cover of the George Martin composition used as the original closing theme to BBC Radio 1, and "W", which was ultimately left off the album. The music, particularly "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" was recorded in short sections between two and five minutes, which were later edited together. In addition to Hammill's original suite, Banton contributed the "Pictures/Lighthouse" section, an Olivier Messiaen-influenced organ piece, Evans wrote "Kosmos Tours" around a short piano riff, and Jackson wrote the music to the closing theme, "We Go Now". The piece was edited together by Banton and Anthony towards the end of the session. Banton used an effect called a "psychedelic razor", a customised tape recorder that could rewind and record simultaneously. The device appealed to the band's sense of humour. At one stage, every tape machine in the studio had to be used for mixing."

"The album was originally conceived as a double album similar to Pink Floyd's Ummagumma (1969). The first half was made up of the album as released, while the second was to be divided between personal projects and live-in-studio versions of older Van der Graaf Generator songs such as "Killer" and "Octopus". Evans contributed an avant-garde piece, "Angle of Incidents" which featured drums being recorded backwards and the sound of a fluorescent lighting tube being dropped down the studio's stairs. Jackson recorded "Ponker's Theme'", a short jazz piece, and a longer piece, "Archimedes Agnostic", with Latin lyrics written by Hammill. Charisma ultimately felt that the group should simply release a single album, and vetoed the live and solo recordings."

"The album's title came from a spoonerism by Jackson, who once said, "I'll go down to the studio and dub on some more porn harts", meaning "horn parts". The cover was designed by regular Charisma album artist Paul Whitehead, who was told by Hammill, "no matter if you're a king, a pauper or whatever – you're a pawn" which led to a design containing the earth and a curtain. The inner gatefold picture was taken by Keith Morris and featured the band playing Crowborough Tennis while appearing to give Nazi salutes to each other, though Banton later said this was simply the band attempting to look ridiculous in the vein of Monty Python."

2. "Man-Erg" 10:19
Beautiful piano sounds permeate the air before Hammill pronounces that there is a killer living inside him. LOL, what did you expect, humor? Not from this band. Even better than the first cut because this matches the great music, with a human approach towards the narrator. Peter's vocal histrionics aren't quite up to the level of "Lemmings" either. Wicked time-signature changes in the number. Oops, Peter is screaming now, so forget the lessened histrionics I mentioned. Some of this reminds me of the drama of early metal - which I think I mentioned in an earlier review. Peter's singing in an almost delicate manner now - dynamics are the band's forte it seems. David Jackson on flute, which sounds nice. Yep, another VDGG winner!

"The album was not commercially successful in the UK. A Record Mirror review said "I have to confess complete ignorance of precisely what Van der Graaf Generator are trying to achieve", though Melody Maker were more enthusiastic, saying "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" is one of the most fascinating and dramatic items I've ever heard". However, the album reached number one on the Italian album charts. The group toured Italy to promote the album, where they were treated like superstars and surrounded by army vehicles and riot police. They followed this with a short European tour, during which they filmed a live version of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" for Belgian television. The production took two hours to film as the band had not intended to perform the song live and had forgotten it. The resulting film shows Hammill singing the song while reading a lyric sheet. Regular tours of Europe followed over the next four months, but the strain of the workload became too much for the band, and they split up in August 1972.

Retrospective reviews have been favourable. Q magazine called the album a "misunderstood masterpiece" while Mojo said it was "one of the most extraordinary albums of its era". Singer-songwriter Fish is a fan of the album, particularly of "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". Julian Cope has called the album "a masterpiece". Hammill has said, "although a fairly extreme musical statement, [the album] contains some of our most cohesive work"." - Wikipedia

Image Image

3. "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" a. "Eyewitness" – 2:25 b. "Pictures/Lighthouse" (music: Banton, Jackson) – 3:10 c. "Eyewitness" – 0:54 d. "S.H.M." – 1:57 e. "Presence of the Night" – 3:51 f. "Kosmos Tours" (music: Evans; lyrics: Hamill) – 1:17 g. "(Custard's) Last Stand" – 2:48
h. "The Clot Thickens" (music: Hammill, Banton, Evans, Jackson; lyrics: Hammill) – 2:51 i. "Land's End (Sineline)" (music: Jackson; lyrics: Hammill) – 2:01 j. "We Go Now" (music: Jackson, Banton) – 1:51" (Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, Guy Evans, David Jackson) 23:04
Those chords start us off, and the tale of the lonely lighthouse keeper begins. Peter's using different voices to illustrate the different aspects of the narrator's psyche. The character has seen too much of death from shipwrecks outside his window in the lighthouse. His feelings of depression, PTSD, anguish, etc form the thoughts which the lyrics detail. The music changes tone, direction, and tempo to show the different feelings in the man's mind. This is Van der Graaf's "Supper's Ready" really, their magnum opus.

Wiki: "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" evolved in the studio, recorded in small sections and pieced together during mixing. The song has many changes in time signature and key signature, and even incorporates some musique concrète. was recorded at intervals between gigs. It was recorded in small sections that were pieced together during mixing, and it took about three to four months to record, non-continuous. According to producer John Anthony, the track features a lot more studio experimentation than on previous albums, saying "we pushed the facilities at Trident to the limit and had involved the use of every single tape machine in Trident at some stage." The experiments included tape manipulation and Hugh Banton experimenting with Mellotron and synthesizer. According to David Jackson, one section of it features the entire band overdubbed 16 times. Robert Fripp provided a cameo appearance on electric guitar, which can be heard from 8:10–10:20 into the song and near the end of the song. (Fripp also had a cameo on "Man-Erg".)

Peter Hammill, interviewed by Sounds, said: "It's just the story of the lighthouse keeper, that's it on its basic level. And there's the narrative about his guilt and his complexes about seeing people die and letting people die, and not being able to help. In the end – well, it doesn't really have an end, it's really up to you to decide. He either kills himself, or he rationalises it all and can live in peace... Then on the psychic/religious level it's about him coming to terms with himself, and at the end there is either him losing it all completely to insanity, or transcendence; it's either way at the end... And then it's also about the individual coming to terms with society – that's the third level..."

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 25 Sep 2021, 09:54

Divisive for sure, but my favourite. Can't fault it.

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 25 Sep 2021, 11:40

slightbreeze wrote:Divisive for sure


Yes - agreed. I rate it highly but it tends not to be my goto album

1. The Least
2. Still Life
3. Pawn Hearts
4. H to





Great write up Matt




.
slightbreeze wrote:
C wrote:Will Barclay James Harvest feature well.....?

If we get as far as a top 100, I'd certainly consider it

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 25 Sep 2021, 17:44

1) Pawn Hearts 2) Godbluff 3) Still Life

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby yomptepi » 25 Sep 2021, 20:16

C wrote:
slightbreeze wrote:Divisive for sure


Yes - agreed. I rate it highly but it tends not to be my goto album

1. The Least
2. Still Life
3. Pawn Hearts
4. H to








Great write up Matt




.


about right I'd say... although I do always feel as if I have had a massive bollocking every time I hear a VDGG record...
You don't like me...do you?

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Sep 2021, 02:31

yomptepi wrote:about right I'd say... although I do always feel as if I have had a massive buggering every time I hear a VDGG record...


Don't you usually feel that way after the weekend?

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 26 Sep 2021, 10:07

yomptepi wrote: although I do always feel as if I have had a massive bollocking every time I hear a VDGG record...


:lol:




.
slightbreeze wrote:
C wrote:Will Barclay James Harvest feature well.....?

If we get as far as a top 100, I'd certainly consider it

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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 30 Sep 2021, 03:18

Image
Peter Hammill - The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage
After Pawn Hearts and the subsequent tour, the band took a break for a few years while Peter began his solo career in earnest. There's a whole cult around Hammill and his records, but I only own or have heard this one. There's many more PH solo LPs than there are VDGG ones so there very well may be some that are better than this. Prog Archives doesn't rate one higher until The Fall of the House of Usher in 1991 though, so I feel reasonably secure that this is one of the better ones.

You're looking at that bizarre LP cover, aren't you? Wiki - "The cover was designed by Bettina Hohls, ex-member of the psychedelic German rock band Ash Ra Tempel. Hohls also contributed to the cover of Hammill's earlier album Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night.

Peter Hammill – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars (1, 2, 5, 6), piano (2, 3, 4, 7), Mellotron (1, 2), bass guitar (1, 2, 6), harmonium (1), oscillator (6)
Hugh Banton – Hammond organ, bass pedals and bass guitar (3, 4, 7), Farfisa organ (5), backing vocals
Guy Evans – percussion, drums (4, 5, 7)
David Jackson – flute, alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones (4, 5, 7)
Randy California – lead guitar (5)

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill.

Image

1. "Modern" 7:28
Intense acoustic guitar strumming until Peter's vocals slide in and we're in Van Der Graaf territory. You can't really tell you're not listening to one of their albums to be frank. He's not trying for commerciality, that's for sure. Images of modern city life and urban decay are the theme of the day here. Wonder where he lives, anyway? Organ by Hugh and weird effects assault the senses. Ever consider what a VDGG album would have sounded like in 1974? This is probably it. Wicked guitar sounds after the four-minute mark. Hammill makes somebody like Robert Fripp sound like a top 40 artist. This would clear the room at a party I'll bet.

2. "Wilhelmina" 5:18
Peter's piano and voice begin. "Willie..." He's addressing a small child, or maybe even a baby - giving her advice for the upcoming years. Pete's idea of a children's song, I imagine. As commercial as his songwriting gets, folks. "Wilhelmina" is written for Guy Evans' newborn baby girl, Tamra." - Wikipedia

3. "The Lie (Bernini's Saint Theresa)" 5:41
Same beginning with his piano chords, but organ this time. That sense of drama and urgency so prevalent in Hammill's music is all over these tunes. He's pulling an Ian Anderson here and commenting on the Catholic church it sounds like. "I'd embrace you if I only knew your name." Wiki says this cut alludes to the Ecstasy of St Theresa by Bernini. Okay. Wonder if Charisma actually thought this kind of stuff would get airplay? Intense, I'll give it that.

4. "Forsaken Gardens" 6:16
"Where are all the joys of yesterday?" is the first thing you hear before the piano comes in. I'll bet he wrote these songs on that instrument. You do feel assaulted when listening to this music, I must admit. "Forsaken Gardens" (also played live in 1975) and "Red Shift" are two more songs which feature ex-VdGG members. - Wikipedia

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5. "Red Shift" 8:11
Strange days, indeed. Weirdness abounds, and you get Jackson's sax as well! I'm not even trying to follow what he's saying anymore and just going with the current. A little red wine helps, of course - and I've always got plenty of that. The chutzpah to record stuff like this and expect an audience is interesting to me. But an audience is exactly what he got, so haters take note. Actually digging the vibe of this one. Spirit's Randy California plays guitar too, it starts about 5:30. Hammill's melodies aren't written to sound pretty. Damn, it's getting loud, hope the neighbors don't mind...

6. "Rubicon" 4:41
More acoustic guitar as Peter tries to sound normal for once. Wonder how long this will last? I tried to read the words but the vino has dulled my senses and I can't concentrate. Probably for the best. He's singing about being the lone wolf, hmmm... The most conventional number on the disc, some kind of romantic ditty perhaps?

7. "A Louse is Not a Home" 12:15
Ooo, a long one! (Yeah, I hear that a lot...) Pete must really have something to say with twelve minutes to say it in. He's growling and groaning after only a minute in so he's saved this angsty track for last. Enjoying Jackson's sax as always. Lots of changing tempos tell us it's prog. My daughter just came in, wonder how much of this she can take? LOL... She's trying to talk to me but Peter's voice is cranked up so loud I can't hear her. Good thing this is the last track. Guess I'll cut it short then. That's it for tonight, folks!

Wiki - "The lengthy "A Louse is not a Home" is a song about the nature of identity. It was originally written for Van der Graaf Generator's album following Pawn Hearts, an album that because of the band's split never came to be. It features Van der Graaf Generator's ex-members and was (just like "In the Black Room" from the previous album) played live by the group already in mid 1972 (just before the split) and again with the reformed band in 1975."

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Last edited by Matt Wilson on 02 Oct 2021, 00:22, edited 2 times in total.

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ConnyOlivetti
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 30 Sep 2021, 06:51

Huge fan of Hammill solo, have them all.
Favs are (all 4 or 5 star albums imho)

Nadir's Big Chance (February 1975)
The Future Now (September 1978)
pH7 (September 1979)
A Black Box (August 1980)
Sitting Targets (June 1981)
Enter k (October 1982)
Patience (August 1983)
Charlie O. wrote:I think Coan and Googa are right.


Un enfant dans electronica!
Je suis!

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slightbreeze
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 30 Sep 2021, 10:44

ConnyOlivetti wrote:Huge fan of Hammill solo, have them all.
Favs are (all 4 or 5 star albums imho)

Nadir's Big Chance (February 1975)
The Future Now (September 1978)
pH7 (September 1979)
A Black Box (August 1980)
Sitting Targets (June 1981)
Enter k (October 1982)
Patience (August 1983)

Do you have to keep them in a warehouse? Phenomenal output!

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ConnyOlivetti
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 30 Sep 2021, 11:06

slightbreeze wrote:
ConnyOlivetti wrote:Huge fan of Hammill solo, have them all.
Favs are (all 4 or 5 star albums imho)

Nadir's Big Chance (February 1975)
The Future Now (September 1978)
pH7 (September 1979)
A Black Box (August 1980)
Sitting Targets (June 1981)
Enter k (October 1982)
Patience (August 1983)

Do you have to keep them in a warehouse? Phenomenal output!


:D
Indeed, the man is creativity in person
Most of them are in plastic folders, so dont take much space
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Charlie O. wrote:I think Coan and Googa are right.


Un enfant dans electronica!
Je suis!

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slightbreeze
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 30 Sep 2021, 11:28

Can't see my favourites there ..... "Chameleon" and "In camera" :(

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ConnyOlivetti
Probing The Sonic Heritage
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Joined: 06 Nov 2003, 07:14
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Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 30 Sep 2021, 11:44

slightbreeze wrote:Can't see my favourites there ..... "Chameleon" and "In camera" :(

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Charlie O. wrote:I think Coan and Googa are right.


Un enfant dans electronica!
Je suis!