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CD-EAN 077778755128 -CHARISMA 1976-
Top Customer Reviews
Where the last album of Mk1 VdGG was a triumph in successfully delivering enormously ambitious material of epic construct, 1975's return was by way of a scaling down and a perhaps more judicial packaging of their writing capabilities into a format that would be easier to replicate live.
So fertile were the sessions for the acclaimed 'Godbluff' that pretty much half of a further album was in the can by their end. After another European tour, financially upended in Italy by political tension tipping into loss of van and gear and an early return home, the band forged on into the studio in the New Year and got to work on this, quite simply the most satisfactory of this period's VdGG.
'Still Life' has five tracks and each is a perfect turn in revealing writing capabilities (of Peter Hammill in particular who had been honing his skills with solo ouput) and their conversion into faultless ensemble playing.
'Pilgrims' (a return to an early Hammill interest) and 'La Rossa' arrive perfectly formed from the Godbluff sessions to be joined by the title track and 'My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)' and 'Childlike Faith in Childhood's End'.
A confidence and self-knowing pervade these carefully assembled pieces that though darkly observational are startlingly diverse in tone, one moment cooed, the next screamed into our ears and then hammered home.Read more ›
The music is in some ways typically VDGG - but somehow slightly more mellow (I'm not sure that's the word for VDGG, but it will do), particularly "searching for wonderland". I always loved intelligent lyrics that you get with VDGG and tracks like "pilgrims" and "Childlike faith" don't disappoint here. Nor, in spades, does the title track, "Still life". As a 16 year old, I always hated "La Rossa". I never knew why, it just didn't work for me. Then, as a 40 year old, I actually started listening to the words and music - and was blown away.
This is a brilliant album, often sadly under-rated by VDGG fans, but very definitely worth buying.
The rest of the band don't come to the fore quite so much as on previous albums, but there is organ and sax in abundance; they are there more to support Hammill's wonderful and weird songs this time. And what a great set of songs, notably La Rossa and the massive philosophic reflection that is Childlike Faith in Childhood's End. Both go through a multitude of changes and end on massive crescendos. Both wonderful. My Room is quieter, more sad and reflective, while Still Life itself is a dark and disturbing look at what immortality might actually entail.
But do turn it off after Childhood's End. The "bonus" track here is a live version of Gog, from 1975. This would be interesting, as it's actually a Hammill solo piece from his In Camera album, were it not so badly recorded. Doomy organ, muffled drumming, a barely discernable sax, and a totally incoherent, screaming vocal make this a bonus fans could do without. But I'll not let it stop me giving this classic five stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great music, great vocals, great lyrics. This is a must-hear album for anyone who likes prog rock.
I wasn't a fan of the bonus track. Read more
I have been a fan of this band since 1970 and they never cease to amaze me .top musicians fronted by peter hammill,this album is acePublished on 25 Mar. 2013 by mitch
The hippy-esque existential lyrics of some songs make me squirm a bit, but you can't fault Hammill for not being refreshingly honest. Read morePublished on 21 Mar. 2013 by Rick N Backer
"Still Life" was the second of Van Der Graaf Generators three mid-seventies albums which show them at their absolute peak. Read morePublished on 25 Oct. 2011 by N. Dutton