Van Der Graaf Generator – Godbluff (1975/1988)

Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff
Artist: Van Der Graaf Generator
Album: Godbluff
Genre: Eclectic Prog
Label: Charisma, Virgin
Year Of Release: 1975/1988
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue)

1. The Undercover Man (7:00)
2. Scorched Earth (10:10)
3. Arrow (8:15)
4. The Sleepwalkers (10:26)


– Peter Hammill / vocals, guitars, piano, Hohner clavinet D6
– Hugh Banton / organs, bass, bass pedals
– David Jackson / saxes, flute
– Guy Evans / drums, percussion

This album remarks the comeback of the band after a four year break from the music industry. The front-man Peter Hammill released quite a number of albums during that time. They came back to the studio and recorded this wonderfully crafted album (released in 1975) that I think it’s a true masterpiece. I have to admit that due to this album, my appreciation on VdGG music had grown significantly and I started to appreciate their early albums which were too dark and too depressive in mood to my personal taste. Godbluff still project the dark mood but musically it’s much more mature compared to their early records. I remember vividly when this album was released, a year later I got a cassette version on this and I talked to myself: “Wow! This is the music that I’m looking for!”.

Talking on a music spectrum, this album is heavily loaded with Hugh Banton’s wailing organ work combined with multi-registered voice of Peter Hammill (Jeezzz!! I like his curved voice lines!) and . David Jackson saxophone work. Admittedly, I’m not a great fan of saxophone; but with this record? Oh man . this one must be treated differently! It’s also the case with Dick Parry’s work on Pink Floyd stuffs which I also like it. But, don’t ask me to enjoy Kenny G’s work man .!! No way!! Enuff .. enuff .. Back to Godbluff, the music is tightly composed with great arrangements and powerful songwriting.

The album comprises four approximately equal-length songs that all of them project a uniformity in mood and style even though the melody is totally different from one song to another. that provides the semblance of a central concept, even if there isn’t one that I can see. Jackson provides flute playing to “The Undercover Man” and “The Sleepwalkers” especially on softer parts which usually are very beautiful segments to my personal taste. Evans punctuates each Jackson sax burst with a sort of rapid-fire staccato that characterizes the music of Van der Graaf Generator. At first listening experiences I tended to put my best favorite track was “The Sleepwalkers” because it has powerful pondering vocals with high energy music that combines aggressive sax work by David Jackson as well as stunning organ work by Hugh Banton. But with some more listens I felt that “The Undercover Man” which has a floating melody and accentuated vocals was becoming another favorite of mine. The list did not stop there as the other two tracks “Scorched Earth” and “Arrow” did become my other favorites as well. So, what can I say if I love all of the four tracks? Is there any favorite? I don’t think so because I love all of them, finally – with the passage of time, of course. That’s what might happen to you if you are newbie to VdGG music. You might like only one track but with more spins it would grow. I’m sure on this. Try it.

“Godbluff” (and “Still Life” – the follow-up that was released a year later) represents the band at their peak, with a tight composition, mature lyrical contribution from Hammill combined with the powerful songwriting the band members contributed. The combined creativity of the four musicians creates a wonderful music that uplifts our emotion whenever we listen to the album from the CD player or even whenever we sing the song inside our mind without playing the CD at all (like what I’m doing now when I’m writing this review with labor of love). Some people mention that Pawnheart was the band’s masterpiece but I think they should also include these two albums as well. VdGG was one of the bands that pioneered prog rock in the seventies. Highly recommended.
Review by Gatot

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