Van der Graaf Generator / Peter Hammill S& D, C or D?

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I never really got into them, they were too prog-rock for my taste I guess. But still there is something about Hammill, his voice and lyrics I think.

The only VDGG album I own is Vital Live, which has its moments but I find there is something goth, megalomaniac and bombastic (the orchestral sound with the violin, sax and keyboards maybe) in there I don't like and can only take in small quantities.

The only Hammill solo I have is In a Foreign Town which I rather liked if my memory serves me well.

Which are the albums to keep/purchase?

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Monday, 7 October 2002 09:55 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i bought the 4cd box set -- in the booklet hammill and co. go on about how good everything sounded when they went about re-mastering the tracks that were included -- so you get "a plague of lighthouse keepers" but not "man-erg" or "lemmings" (ok interesting but ancillary live version of "lemmings" -- well you still can't hear the words or the organ or the sax very well however well the live version might have been re-handled)

you get half'n'half re-mastered or live versions of the supposedly crucial tracks so you get all but the best song off "H.." as bbc alternative takes, 4 of the 5 songs of imo least interesting "world record" as studio re-masters, most of "still life" half live and half studio, almost half live of "godbluff" and too little or nothing of early and late albums

the re-mastered studio versions do sound very good if you want to hear all the home-made fuzz/wah/boo noises added to the super-customised organ or the 2 saxes played through effects pedals operated via elbow as fashionable '70s mo-width belt -- the lyrics are crisp too -- re-mastering seems to have given the tracks back their crucial resonant pulse-wave-modulation bass, the heavy malevolence that the cd re-issues i'd sampled lacked and that everyone admitted vinyl couldn't do justice to in the first place with a track like the 22 minute "..lighthouse keepers"

so buying the admittedly handy vaguely career spanning box-set is a catch-22 since individual cd re-issues do not contain the re-mastered versions.. yet ? when ?

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 10:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

george, I can see how their recordings could benefit from re-mastering.

I consider VDGG seriously flawed (mostly by bombast), but at one time I was pretty crazy about them. The only thing I have much interest in hearing occasionally is "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers," which I think has some really gorgeous moments.

Solo Peter Hammill has held up even worse for me. I think the beginning of "Black Box" is beautiful, but then he has to go and express all the conflicts and complexities of modern life, through lots of changes of direction, and the whole thing is ruined. (In fact, it sometimes sounds as though he wants to make a mini-epic like "A Plague. . ." every time he records a song.)

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 7 October 2002 11:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yes that is the problem -- songs like ".. lighthouse keepers" have great sections in them -- i really love the first third of it, but some of the other sections could be skipped -- a glaring opportunity for the use of cd sub-indexing missed, as the piece was chopped up quite formally into sections a,b,.. anyway so that some songwriting credit could go to the band (if for no other reason, says the booklet)

the organ sounds as though you're inside it, ie it doesn't sound in the least bit tinny or dinky, as the old cds and lps sometimes do -- songs like "arrow" have their own special devices and appeal and again benefit from the re-buff, sounding menacing and harsh despite the "jazz-rock" first impressions

why include three gloom ballads from hammill (from "H ..") at the expense of "the general and his war room" when that song with secret guest fripp would have rocked best given the same treatment ? (ok, the mandatory hit studio track "killer" does sound a bit droney and dated but it's still fun and the re-mix gives it real wollop)

if you listened to old versions of this bands music they sound silly/heavy, cf: the sparce array of remixes on the box,
which whilst maybe wacky, gloomy, dated, eccentric, hammillesque etc.. all sound heavy in a way that maybe explains why the band was such a hit live (big in italy), heavy as a result of "mad scientist" hugh banton evolving four increasingly powerful versions of his organ over six years, each with numerous wah, growl, fuzz, sub-oscillate etc. capacities, some of the time whilst starring as engineer for the organ manufacturer itself

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 12:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

duh, him, he, hugh banton worked for the organ manufacturer himself, during the bands 72'-'76 hiatus

it amuses me somehow that johnny rotten would claim any positive influence on his vocal style from anyone, let alone that he claimed hammill, a semi-retired prog rock band's head meglomaniac -- if the sex pistols et. al. hadn't come along, maybe we'd look back on prog rock quite differently

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 7 October 2002 12:17 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Killer" is the sort of song that leaves me frustrated and ambivalent. There is something really good there, but in its case, it is all wrapped up with something else that I find a turn-off. I am left with a feeling of "This has a lot of potential." But it's a little late for it too just have potential. (In the case of that song there is also the near-nostalgia factor of its reminding me of when I used to listen to it a lot in high school and college.)

I do like those organ sounds. It seems that more could be done with those particular prog. textures, but then I'm sure there are other things which work with similar sounds but which I just haven't heard.

I would really like to like this music, since it does offer some distinctive sounds, but mostly it doesn't work together as a whole for me.

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 7 October 2002 13:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I've just gotten the box via mp3 and might give it a listen at work tomorrow. Unfortunately the box doesn't have the one Pete Hammill song I've always wanted to hear the original of -- "Vision." Marc Almond covered it on his second solo album, and it's turned into one of his standards, regularly in his live sets from then to now. His performance is incredibly powerful and heartfelt, and I've torn myself up over the lyrics more than once when thinking about things that might have been (and maybe should have been?). So I've always wanted to hear the original, like I said -- one day.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 7 October 2002 15:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" is awesome.

sundar subramanian, Monday, 7 October 2002 19:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Van Der Graaf Generator are for the most part just about flawless IMO. I mean, you have this band who consist of a singer who thinks he is Roderick Usher, a deranged saxophonist who wants to be Roland Kirk, and who delights in playing 2 saxaphones at once through a fuzzbox, a church organist and one of the best rock drummers ever, WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? I don't think VDGG were flawed by bombast. ELP, perhaps, yes, but not VDGG.
I would say that "H to He Who Am the Only One", "Pawn Hearts", "Godbluff" and "Still Life". The live album "Vital" is, I think, pretty poor - also, it's quite unrepresentative of the band's "classic" lne up as it doesn't have David Jaxon on it, except as a guest on 1 track. The BBC sessions CD, "Maida Vale" is a pretty good intro as well, if U don't want to go for thee expense of the box set. search the first four that I mentioned anyway, and given that you occasionally see "Vital" for, like 2.99 in HMV's sale bin, I can't even complain about that too much. As for Peter Hammill's solo w3rk, I would probably start w/ "Nadir's Big Chance", "In Camera", "The Future Now" and ". You have probably guessed that for me Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf are TH33 FuX!Ng SH!T. To me they inhabit this place that very few musicians even fucking know about let alone reach. Probably only Magazine and Popol Vuh "do it" for me like hammill & vdgg do. So classic. Hammill was rowr in his younger days as well.

if anyone has a spare copy of "The Long Hello volume 1" on zomart CD theyd like to sell me BTW, contact me off list. I have lost my copy, & want another one bad, like.

N0RM4N PH4Y, Monday, 7 October 2002 20:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My favorites are "Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other", "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff". I think the first side of the latter two is probably the best they ever did. I think "H to He" is overrated. "Killer" has a great riff, but pretty silly lyrics.
"Refugees" is my favorite song by them. There's a great single version of it on the Virgin compilation "I Prophecy Disaster".

Solo Hammill? I like "A Black Box" quite a lot, was disappointed by "Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night". Some of his later albums, like "Fireships" and "Out of Water" are okay...

Joe (Joe), Monday, 7 October 2002 21:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

vdgg: still life.
ph: a black box, out of water. plus some people think that his "love songs" album is a good place to start. *and* it's got vision on it! ;)

cecilia, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 02:28 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Thank you! Finally, the info I needed. :-)

Currently listening to that there box set right now. And very good it is too. The keyboardist is agreeably nuts, but I think the sax guy is even more so.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 15:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

haha Cecilia - I wuz right!

the one prog/ex-prog band/dude I can't seem to shake, even though I haven't listened to for years
when I did, top LP picks:

Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts, Godbluff, Still Life and The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (which anticipates postpunk)

Peter Hammill - Nadir's Big Chance and The Future Now
(though there's interesting tracks scattered throughout his albums)

lovely record I still do throw on:
The Long Hello - The Long Hello 1973 instrumental 'solo' album featuring most of the band without Hammill
anyone know if Long Hello Vol.2 is any good?

Paul (scifisoul), Tuesday, 8 October 2002 16:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the only song I've really REALLY liked is "Refugees" which is wonderfully pompous and genuinely melancholy.

dog latin, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 18:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Came across this picture of them nowadays (l-r: Hugh Banton, Peter Hammill, David Jackson, Guy Evans):

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Okay, one more try, and if not, sorry I give up:

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Aargh! Okay, if you still are REALLY that curious, go to:

click on "Photos" then "Musician's photos" then "Van Der Graaf Generator nowadays"

Joe (Joe), Saturday, 9 November 2002 05:10 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
the more i listen to the VddG songs on albums "H to .." and "Still Life" the more they seem to hold water as overall fragments of one big song each per album, and i now think this may be the bands strength -- that each album emerged from various concentrated sessions, with components spread across the songs, making a given song on it's own less inspiring than the album experiences, even though they're _not_ concept albums as much as seamlesslessly integrated fragments of an overall musical feeling in each case

cf: "Godbluff" and "Pawn Hearts"; more traditionl sets of long prog songs, "World Record" seemingly a collection of lesser musical bits and pieces

anyway i think their musical logic is as compelling in its own way as 2x-youth period sonic youth, or mid-period Roxy Music if rocking out ten minutes per song -- am just investigating Hammill side projects at this stage, and i don't know about "Least we can do ..",
"Vital", "Aeresol .." and "Quite Zone.." yet -- nice that there's still plenty of material to eat through

george gosset (gegoss), Sunday, 9 February 2003 11:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Geez... VDGG 'Afterwards' = best song evah?

I'm having trouble with this right now. I want to love this song so much. Want to proclaim it the greatest forgotten/failed/alternate uni pop great. Anyone else know it? Anyone have the first VDGG?

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Sunday, 9 February 2003 12:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

VDGG is the type of band that I really like, but
do not blame anyone in the slightest for hating.
Also, most of their songs (especially in their mid to
later period) could have worked better as
instrumentals - Hammill's lyrics are only occasionally
interesting; his voice is decent but after the first
two albums he rarely bothered to SING - he just
yelled and ranted, like a small, raging version of
David Bowie.

P.S: Another non-comformist opinion: they only really
got good starting with _Godbluff_. Better drumming,
better songs.

Squirrel_Police (Squirrel_Police), Monday, 10 February 2003 02:41 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think I like Peter Hammill even when I don't like him, but I saw a video recording of a performance of his in the 90's, and really noticed his tendency to speed up the rhythm of a line and make a growling jump right off the side of the music towards the end for dramatic effect. He did it so often, I could barely let myself hear the songs. I wish he'd reign that sort of thing in a bit, because I think it hurts the songs - just the lyrics could carry tons of what I'm guessing he's getting at when he does that. I don't know.

tom (other), Monday, 10 February 2003 04:30 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

six months pass...
wow, i love this shit! it reminds me of bowie totally (and also dog man star i guess, and roy budd to an extent). house with no door has that sunderland 4.30am vibe, edge of town, the other people place reprised this for lakeshore MI business maybe.

harsh dawns to come

gareth (gareth), Thursday, 14 August 2003 22:19 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

well, it'a august now, and so with a few more months listening i think i'm agreeing with Squirrel_Police that Godbluff is a staggering demonstration of power

'sleepwalkers' is too pompous (yet somehow that suits the ceremonial bullshit of 'gentlemen's' warfare, 'arrow' so catchy that i've maybe made myself sick of it, 'undercover man' intiguing and leaving me wanting more, 'scorched earth' an absolute gem, with its two harmonic threads merging very sneakily leaving me going "how did that happen ? will have to listen to part of it again" -- my favourite VdGG song

this was their 'comeback' album -- why was this not embraced as the smarter improved side one of led zep iv ? -- more intelligently heavy than the truly pretentious competitors 'the who' -- more coherent lyrically than bowie

i suppose the misanthropic snarl of hammill simply put people off, no matter what the lyrics were about or what the band did -- i have to agree with rock-sci that they _are_ heavily flawed -- what a pity -- a rock band with saxaphones and organ and lyrics (and songs, not 'prog' jams) was just what popular music needed, not more guitars

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 14 August 2003 22:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
but where to go from here? i thought audience house on the hill but not sure

gareth (gareth), Saturday, 17 April 2004 17:57 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Oh this is great great great! I used to have songs I taped off the radio from Hamill 20 years ago that I liked and yet I never got back around to investigating him or VDGG. Thank you for pointing me this way! I would have totally forgotten on my own, I think.

bimble (bimble), Sunday, 18 April 2004 05:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

according to this, the albums ARE being remastered by Virgin,so, hopefully, someday.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Sunday, 18 April 2004 16:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Best wishes to Peter Hammill , I'm glad he's recovering well from his coronary.

Colin McPhee, Thursday, 29 April 2004 20:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I recently acquired a bunch more of his solo albums, but still have to work my way through them. His debut, Fools Mate, is quite great. Completely Van Der Graaf Generator in sound and feel, but the songs are much more down to earth. Hammill tones down (at least on the songs I've heard so far) the bombastic/arch-concept/nihilistic-angst of the tride and true VdGG albums (a plus, in my book).

Now, have to give Skin and X My Heart a play...

Joe (Joe), Friday, 30 April 2004 01:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Is this compilation a good introduction? Here is the track listing.

Van Der Graaf Generator: An Introduction
1. Darkness (11/11)
2. Refugees
3. Killer
4. Theme 1
5. Man-Erg
6. Sleepwalkers
7. Still Life
8. When She Comes
9. Sphinx In The Face

earlnash, Friday, 30 April 2004 08:40 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Fool's Mate seconded, my favourite of the three Hammill solo records I have. Also really like the first VDGG album, Aerosol Grey Machine, which walks the dividing line between psych and prog. Hadn't heard anything about the coronary, hope the bloke's up and at 'em again soon.

NickB (NickB), Friday, 30 April 2004 08:55 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
Hah, the bloke was fucking VERY up & at 'em!!

I picked up the 1st set of 3 reissues "the least we can do is wave to each other", "H to he who am the only one" & "pawn hearts". Great mastering job, nice packaging/notes. One of the bonus tracks (on "h to he..." is this thing called "squid1/squid2/octopus" good grief it's mighty. deranged mix of fucked up free jazz & demented doomy church organ, heavy and as gothic as fuck!! it's 15m long too...

Pashmina (Pashmina), Saturday, 4 June 2005 11:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Have you heard the new album? I haven't, but really want to. Also, I didn't know about those reissues - extra songs sounds great!

Pangolino 2, Saturday, 4 June 2005 16:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Good to see the classics remastered! I simply can't keep up/save money for all the reissued goodness these days.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Saturday, 4 June 2005 16:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Is that "Octopus" thing related to the track on Aerosol Grey Machine with (I think) the same name?

Jetlag Willy (noodle vague), Sunday, 5 June 2005 09:05 (twelve years ago) Permalink

so what are the long-lost second album of Pawn Hearts tracks like?

kyle (akmonday), Sunday, 5 June 2005 21:17 (twelve years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
Those VDGG reissues are $25 each! Anyone find them cheaper?

As far as solo, I have Hammill's Nadir's Big Chance and Over. I could get The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage, and The Future Now for $8 each at, but since those versions came out in 1990, I'm afraid remasters will pop up soon. Anyone got info on that?

A.S. Van Dorston (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Those VDGG reissues are $25 each! Anyone find them cheaper?

As far as solo, I have Hammill's Nadir's Big Chance and Over. I could get The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage, and The Future Now for $8 each at, but since those versions came out in 1990, I'm afraid remasters will pop up soon. Anyone got info on that?

A.S. Van Dorston (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i haven't seen them cheaper, no, and so I've only bought Pawn Hearts, but the improvement in sound quality was really worth it. I'll pick up the others as money permits

kyle (akmonday), Sunday, 4 September 2005 08:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Hammill's solo debut, "Fool's Mate" is a very fine record, indeed. Kind of like a pop Roy Harper; and "Child" is a song to truly send shivers down your spine. There's a smattering of music-hall in a few of the songs, as well as a brilliant final number, which is rather cheery, yet turns agonisingly dark, ending on a sustained, droning guitar chord.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 4 September 2005 13:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I think the final chord (which is also the opening chord of the album) is played by a keyboard of some kind. Fool's Mate is a great introduction to Hammill's solo work, tho more playful than a lot of his later stuff.

I Ain't No Addict, Whoever Heard of a Junkie as Old as Me? (noodle vague), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Looks like on, Fool's Mate also got the reissue treatment, but not any of the other solo albums. If CD Wow would start carrying them, I'd consider gettingthem all.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:26 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Could be a synthesizer of some sort, I suppose, though the sound is close to a guitar.

I'm sure others will get the re-issue treatment in due course - to be hoped for, anyway.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The re-releases are coming in batches, fairly chronologically I think. You can check Sofa Sound for more info.

I Ain't No Addict, Whoever Heard of a Junkie as Old as Me? (noodle vague), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I was recently sent a copy of The Future Now, which is really enjoyable.

Sundar (sundar), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm still waiting on FOPP selling them for £7.

Last Of The Famous International Pfunkboys (Kerr), Sunday, 4 September 2005 14:56 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Just noticed these are available at Netflix:

Inside Van Der Graaf Generator (2005)
Progressive rock pioneers Van Der Graaf Generator opened doors for groups including Genesis and Pink Floyd and remains one of the most influential yet unappreciated bands of the genre. This inside look features rare archival performance footage, plus critical reviews and in-depth analysis of the band by former Van der Graaf members Judge Smith, Nic Potter and David Jackson, as well as a team of prominent music critics and rock journalists.

Van Der Graaf Generator: Godbluff Live (2004)
Recorded on September 27th, 1975, prog rock legends Van Der Graaf Generator take to the stage to deliver some astounding rock sounds. Recorded on a tour of France, the show concentrates on the "Godbluff" album.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The recent reissues are gonna be Americanized by Astralwerks/Caroline in October or thereabouts, for substantially less money. I'm holding off.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I always thaought the sound at the opening and closing of Fool's Mate was a sine wave generator of some sort (maybe a synth).

And on a side note, I have a VHS of a VDGG tribute band called Van Der Graf Jr. that was shot at Barnsdall Park's auditorium, where today's Arthurfest is occuring.

nickn (nickn), Sunday, 4 September 2005 17:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
I reviewed the first batch of Astralwerks-distributed reissues to come out on October 4.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Monday, 19 September 2005 11:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

you sir have hidden multitudes

rockety communism (imago), Saturday, 29 June 2013 11:25 (four years ago) Permalink

They do Plague of Lighthouse Keepers and Gog from what I hear, pretty cool!

MaresNest, Saturday, 29 June 2013 11:32 (four years ago) Permalink

Like some others, I've become a much bigger fan of his solo material. I'm going to be listening to Over soon and I'm excited by its reputation.
There really isn't a whole lot here about his 80s/90s/00s solo albums, is anyone here that comprehensive on him? The reviews I've read of those are very divided.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 29 June 2013 12:48 (four years ago) Permalink


rockety communism (imago), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:30 (four years ago) Permalink

that might have been the perfect gig. open with brilliant recent song (over the hill, performed to stunning heights of intensity), proceed with unhallowed and yet superb material from latter day and mid-period, mostly from solo records (amongst which my introduction to 'flight', fucking hell), and then end with the hits :D

including a 'childlike faith...' encore :D :D

rockety communism (imago), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:37 (four years ago) Permalink

also I genuinely could not believe how brilliant they were, despite them being a close 2nd behind cardiacs in my all time roster

three men made that chaos, that confluence. three men who've been rocking that existential horror groove for 45 years

i was in the front row, four metres from hammill


rockety communism (imago), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Third time I've seen them, Hammill still can't play gtr, wouldn't have it any other way. Shame there's no sax though.
"Arrow" would be good for the next tour.

OORT (Matt #2), Sunday, 30 June 2013 22:41 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I guess I really should have seen them.

Over is far more varied than I had imagined from looking at the cover, I thought it would all be soft and weary stuff. "Time Heals" is incredible. I think it's really funny in the first song when he says "your excuses are so crappy", because it really contrasts with his usual eloquence. The bonus track version of "Autumn" is amazing. Really great album.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 2 August 2013 20:51 (four years ago) Permalink

I like how the first song is basically Hammill telling himself to stop being dramatic, and in the second he's saying that they would have been miserable in the long run anyway. And THEN come all the depressing, world-weary breakup songs.

I've been really into The Future Now and ph7 lately. Funny that as the Steve Howes, Keith Emersons, John Wettons, and Tony Bankses of the world started to go AOR and mainstream, Hammill only went deeper into his own world.

frogbs, Friday, 2 August 2013 20:59 (four years ago) Permalink

Over is my favourite PH/VdGG album out of the whole lot of them. He never bettered it.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Friday, 2 August 2013 21:46 (four years ago) Permalink

Just listened to Over twice, then Modern and A Louse Is Not A Home too. He did all this and VdGG in his fucking twenties.

imago, Friday, 2 August 2013 23:06 (four years ago) Permalink

A Louse Is Not A Home is every bit as good as any VdGG song

imago, Saturday, 3 August 2013 21:29 (four years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

^still this

in fact, if you're drifting through, here it is in its miraculous entirety. A songwriting pinnacle of sorts:

I'm trying to listen to World Record. Such a loose & unfocused album compared to virtually everything that came before. With a serious fucking edit-job it could have recaptured the incredible brilliance of the previous 3 records (4 if you count The Silent Corner). Here are my problems with it:

- The opening few seconds. Prissy Regency clarinets poncing around. Since when has a VDGG album opened up with meek filigree?
- The rest of When She Comes. A clear candidate for their worst-ever song. Reprises one of Scorched Earth's riffs without any of the punch whatsoever. Urgh.
- The fact A Place To Survive starts really really strong and then jams around *not going anywhere* for about 5 minutes at the end
- No problems with Masks. It's a fucking demon.
- Right, my biggest problem here. Meurglys III. None of it is bad music at all. The closing reggae jam is kinda groovy. But it completely deflates the momentum of the opening 12 minutes, which if isolated might be some of the best 12 minutes in the band's history, up there with that video I just posted and Man-Erg and all that jazz. Edit function sorely lacking. I'm listening to this song now and it's one of the most terrifying & spectacular demonstrations of their narrative mastery*. With a massive anti-climax.
- Wondering is nice and all but it's how Yes should be ending their albums, not VDGG. Feels a bit sickly-sweet.

They'd just released a solid run of the best music ever made, which should hopefully put these criticisms into context. You may wish to defend World Record, of course. Or simply agree with me that TQZ/TPD fortunately dropped by to kick its arse :D

*Hmm. On returning it's a bit disjointed and some of the sections go on a bit. But each section is very, very good.

imago, Tuesday, 12 November 2013 23:32 (four years ago) Permalink

I listened to Godbluff recently again. I love a lot of parts of that album but I still dont agree that it is sharing top spaces at the Hammill canon.
I dont need albums to be totally albumy but sometimes it seems like it needs a bit more of something. I know they wanted a live sound on this, but I think certain elements would have been better if they were accentuated/highlighted more.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 13 November 2013 17:07 (four years ago) Permalink

My last thought on World Record was, "this is better than I remembered", so there's that

frogbs, Wednesday, 13 November 2013 17:13 (four years ago) Permalink

For me, Godbluff has the length of an album but the gravitas and scope of a very, very good EP. Its four pieces are superb but Still Life is more powerful, more wondrous (for me)

imago, Wednesday, 13 November 2013 22:49 (four years ago) Permalink

Songs lengths are dragged out a bit on "Godbluff", I assume in order to fill out the album but not as grotesquely as on "Meurglys III", what were Pete and the boys thinking with that reggae bit? I hate the last track on "Godbluff" too.

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 November 2013 08:57 (four years ago) Permalink

I disagree with all that. Godbluff is perfect!!

Vital - Live is the one that's been blowing me away lately. I only really knew of that album from the WRC, who pretty much unanimously hated it.

frogbs, Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:43 (four years ago) Permalink

there's nothing *wrong* with godbluff at all, but i find it a more minor document than pwn <3s, silent corner or still life - and the final track is definitely the weakest (despite exultant TONIIIIIGHT BEEEEEFORE YOU LAY DOWN bit). if 'a louse is not a home' had rounded off that album it'd be just as good as pwn or still

imago, Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:50 (four years ago) Permalink

Don't get me wrong btw, I still think Godbluff is one of their better albums

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:01 (four years ago) Permalink

At the risk of inducing an embolism or somesuch in imago, the whole 2nd side of Still Life leaves me cold

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:02 (four years ago) Permalink


imago, Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:03 (four years ago) Permalink

The least-brilliant track is My Room, sure, but but but but


imago, Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:04 (four years ago) Permalink

Did I ever tell you I've got a signed copy of that album? I bought in a bargain bin for £1! Signed by Nic Potter, so someone else is missing, poss. Hugh Banton?

Thomas K Amphong (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:06 (four years ago) Permalink

I know I'm in the minority, but I adore World Record and listen to it more than Godbluff (but not more than Still Life or most of Peter Hammil's solo albums).

Jimmywine Dyspeptic, Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:09 (four years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

some fantastic stuff suddenly on Youtube

Hammill plays a gig up a mountain:

BBC doc i'd never heard of:

arid banter (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 21:11 (three years ago) Permalink

Yeah those are great. I knew about that gig in the Dolomites, was debating whether to fly over for it but reason prevailed.

goth colouring book (anagram), Thursday, 12 June 2014 07:07 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

new album comes out next week. it's getting pretty good reviews...lots of "best of the reformation albums"-type claims, which is very good. I'm pretty pumped. lets go

frogbs, Friday, 23 September 2016 13:02 (one year ago) Permalink

ooh link me some reviews

imago, Friday, 23 September 2016 13:02 (one year ago) Permalink

this is like the best year for music ever

imago, Friday, 23 September 2016 13:03 (one year ago) Permalink

ty, this seems like it'll be something

imago, Friday, 23 September 2016 19:21 (one year ago) Permalink

opening track started really promisingly but there was just a really horrible slow distortion-guitar bit to ruin the flow. i hope the album doesn't have many more of such impositions - they've been ruining nu-era vdgg imo

imago, Saturday, 1 October 2016 17:35 (one year ago) Permalink

nah sorry this is shit

imago, Saturday, 1 October 2016 18:04 (one year ago) Permalink

well i like it. but i liked their last one too.

a confederacy of lampreys (rushomancy), Saturday, 1 October 2016 18:21 (one year ago) Permalink

last one was solid, this is not there at all

imago, Saturday, 1 October 2016 18:25 (one year ago) Permalink

godbluff came on immediately afterwards and it's frankly embarrassing

imago, Saturday, 1 October 2016 18:33 (one year ago) Permalink

i'm really not hearing whatever it is you dislike so much in this record. i put on godbluff and he can't sing like he could in 1975, but that was pretty obvious already.

a confederacy of lampreys (rushomancy), Saturday, 1 October 2016 19:16 (one year ago) Permalink

this is leaden, plodding - the changes don't work - the guitar is awful - the melodies are turgid - it's got none of the old wild magic - probably time to pack it in

imago, Saturday, 1 October 2016 19:28 (one year ago) Permalink

hammill's always been an awful guitarist, but i can tolerate it better here than i can on "world record". honestly they do sound like they're about to pack it in, particularly if you listen to that last track, but to me they're going out on a high note. it doesn't have that old wild magic- forty years is a long time- but it's got a magic all its own. about as good as "prog rock" gets in 2016, imo.

a confederacy of lampreys (rushomancy), Saturday, 1 October 2016 20:10 (one year ago) Permalink

only just dipping my toe in but imago is v wrong, there is some great stuff on this album. "Aloof" sounds horribly produced and doesn't work very well but, y'know, try listening to the rest of the album?

don't even see how this was a duck (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 October 2016 09:47 (one year ago) Permalink

"Aloft", obv. you know what i mean.

don't even see how this was a duck (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 October 2016 09:48 (one year ago) Permalink

I bought and listened to the whole thing! I will definitely return to it a few times, but the initial impression wasn't good. Also, every reunion has at least one stunner (Every Bloody Emperor, Over The Hill, Your Time Starts Now) and I can't detect what this album's high point is. I guess Almost The Words seemed like it might be decent.

imago, Sunday, 2 October 2016 09:52 (one year ago) Permalink

i do find them more akin to Hammill's solo records when Jackson's not there tbf

don't even see how this was a duck (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 October 2016 09:58 (one year ago) Permalink

maybe not, scratch that. i like some of what's happening musically more than the songwriting i guess, but Hammill's solo stuff is frequently a bit thin on hooks too so

don't even see how this was a duck (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 October 2016 10:00 (one year ago) Permalink

it's nice to hear vdgg taking on the bacharach/david songbook but honestly "bunsho" sticks with me probably more than "your time starts now" does.

the post-jaxon records are for me some weird middle ground behind the older band and his solo stuff. reminds me of nothing more than stuff like "skeletons of songs". i love "skeletons of songs".

a confederacy of lampreys (rushomancy), Sunday, 2 October 2016 11:50 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm not entirely convinced by any of the post-Jackson records but I think this is the best of the three so far. Thought the last one was fairly underwhelming.

heaven parker (anagram), Sunday, 2 October 2016 13:02 (one year ago) Permalink

3rd listen and it's sitting better with me as a whole, in fact i think it might be rather legit good

don't even see how this was a duck (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 2 October 2016 18:11 (one year ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

I'm enjoying Sitting Targets v much rn. Got a post punky thing going on.

kurt schwitterz, Tuesday, 11 July 2017 19:47 (nine months ago) Permalink

Yeah that's a great record! I feel like it's really overlooked.

akm, Wednesday, 12 July 2017 04:35 (nine months ago) Permalink

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