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2 selections as Proggnosis Best of 1975 Release


a Studio release
Van der Graaf Generator

Release Year: 1975

Date Label Catalog # Comments
01 Sep 1975 Mercury Records 1069 LP
1990 Blue Plate CAROL-1637-2 CD
03 Sep 2021 UMC/Charisma 089 609-8 2xCD+DVD (Remastered, Remixed)
Added To Proggnosis Database on: 12/1/2000 12:00:00 AM
Entry Last Updated on: 3/19/2023 10:05:00 AM by: ZapNiles
  1. The Undercover Man
  2. Scorched Earth
  3. Arrow
  4. The Sleepwalkers

2021 2CD+DVD Remaster

  1. CD - The Original Stereo Mix Remastered
    1. The Undercover Man - 7:33
    2. Scorched Earth - 9:42
    3. Arrow - 9:47
    4. The Sleepwalkers - 10:37
Bonus Tracks (BBC Radio One John Peel Session 3 July 1975):
  1. Scorched Earth - 9:43
  2. The Sleepwalkers - 10:03
  1. CD - The New Stereo Mix
    1. The Undercover Man - 7:34
    2. Scorched Earth - 9:44
    3. Arrow - 9:58
    4. The Sleepwalkers - 10:37
Bonus Tracks (Live At L'Altro Mondo, Rimini, Italy, 1975):
  1. Forsaken Gardens - 7:57
  2. (In The) Black Room / The Tower - 11:47
  3. A Louse Is Not A Home - 12:48
  1. DVD High Resolution 5.1 Surround Sound Mix / New Stereo Mix / Original Stereo Mix
    1. The Undercover Man
    2. Scorched Earth
    3. Arrow
    4. The Sleepwalkers
Guy Evans
drums, percussion
Hugh Banton
organs, piano, Mellotron, bass pedal/guitar, synthesizer, vocals
Peter Hammill
lead vocal, guitars, piano
David Jackson
saxophone, flute, vocals

Reviewed by DBSilver on 03 May 2002

What has happened with each VDGG release is that hard core fans love it claiming this is perhaps their best ever album. Meanwhile - everyone else runs to the nearest exit. We don't want those people here anyway - - - Crank it up!
Now that we have gotten rid of those buggers, I can tell you that Sleepwalker is one of the all time great compositions of progressive music ever written. It's true, - oh, it's true. Because of the structure of VDGG music, I wonder if people realize just how good a drummer Guy Evans is? He is among the best ever. It's true, - oh, it's true. (You should be told that the live version on Maida Vale is worth the price of admission as well - this song is that damn good.). Sleepwalker closes an album that begins with Jackson's echoing flute announcing the return of VDGG after a 4 year break following 1971's Pawn Hearts. During the break Peter Hammill explored his needs through solo releases.
Godbluff is the first album in what is known as VDGG's 2nd Generation and this album contains 4 tracks - all classics. None of this is easy listening - but it is more accessible than Hammill's solo works and more structured and less experimental that VDGG's 1st Genration. Even so, the music continues to be demanding on listeners and containing powerful and emotional waves in a style that often defies descriptions. It is symphonic, rock, jazz, and avant but yet it is not really any of these things.
Banton's Phantom of the Opera organ - normally submerged forms the framework for many songs and on Godbluff VDGG are more cohesive - like a band as a unit as opposed to being a band behind Peter Hammill. This is music that you were never gonna hear on radio then or now. But if you are at my place, your gonna hear it now.

Reviewed by MichelF on 24 Dec 2008

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments of DBSilver. I saw the Godbluff tour in 1975. It was truly amazing. In particular, the song The Sleepwalkers is certainly one of the best progressive rock songs ever written; and it is in VDGG best dark style. Their music was maybe less experimental then previously, but it had gained in texture and tone. Seeing Jackson playing with two saxophones at the same time was beyond words. This album is made of four impressive pieces of creative music.

The first song, The Undercover Man, is also among my best VDGG song. What seems to be a quiet and dark ballad evolves slowly. At each turn, we are anticipating that something weird will happen. The intensity builds, but it never explodes. This song is like an introduction to the fabulous Scorched Earth. With this second song, the drumming is not only first rate, but it helps and keeps the intensity growing. And then, WOW! The theme played by the keys and the sax explodes in a superb song which oscillates between quieter moments and more forceful ones. Near the end it is almost chaotic.

Arrow percussions debut, almost talking with the bass, shows us another example of Evans mastery. Then the sax enters, and the song is almost pure free jazz. Then, it calms down and returns to a more VDGG mood. Dark and plaintive accents offer us another vintage Hammill text. It has also a crescendo structure. The sax is really showing here in his dialogue with the keys.

Finally, return to The Sleepwalkers. What could I say? Brilliant, intense, artful, with many fascinating twists, in brief a masterpiece in progressive rock songs were all band members participate fully. For many observers, this is VDGG finest hour (with Sill Life).

I agree with that opinion, even though I like most what they have done previously. It is simply a great album.

Reviewed by ZapNiles on 19 Mar 2023

Back in 1971, Van der Graaf Generator released Pawn Hearts, a masterpiece of an album and probably my favorite in the group's catalogue. But even through the band's reputation and popularity seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds on the Prog-Rock scene, the group surprisingly disbanded, with leader Peter Hammill deciding to concentrate on a solo career in lieu of keeping the band together. Thankfully, and much to the thrill of many fans, Hammill resurrected the band several years later, and Godbluff popped up shortly thereafter. To my ears, the album proved to be yet another masterpiece, a collection of four complex tracks that certainly matched Pawn Hearts in regards to creativity, moodiness, and technical proficiency, so easily it remains my second favorite of the band's works and the one I still play as often.

Now, compared to Pawn Hearts, this collection of tunes is almost as musically creepy, almost as wickedly demented, but a touch more straightforward (that is, if one can consider anything released by Van der Graaf Generator during the band's early years as being "straightforward") and more jazz-inspired. Included on this album are the classic tracks "Scorched Earth" and "The Sleepwalkers," the songs that initially enticed me to further investigate this group in the mid-'70s, and causing me to fall in love with Van der Graaf Generator's overall strangeness. "The Undercover Man" and "Arrow" are equally as enticing, and offer up even more weird and wonderful, dark and dastardly fun, clearly showing Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, and Guy Evans in tip-top form, while David Jackson's exceptional and unusual saxophone performances act as the icing on the already wacky cake.

So to me, Godbluff (as well as the previous Pawn Hearts) is definitely a "bucket list" album, one collection that every Prog-Rock fan should experience before they die.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

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