Van Der Graaf Generator ‎– Godbluff (1975)

Godbluff is the fifth album by English symphonic/hard rock band Van der Graaf Generator, released in 1975 on Charisma/Mercury.

“Scorched Earth” – fade-in organ notes in G amid the fadeout of “The Undercover Man”, understated Clavinet notes flesh out theme one (presaging vocal first melody) in C (C-C7-Eflat-C), swelling as Guy rolls out martial fills.. beaconing sax from Jackson at :50 usher’s Hammill’s entrance, grabs that melody from the Clavinet and mauls through the first four lines (one bar of 3) — lyrics that seem to deal with a soldier in the thick of a battlefield who’s unlikely to survive, so the most he can do is take out as much of the enemy as possible and die a war hero — culminating with the elongated vowel on “Kneeeeel”…slides into a spikier melody (theme two) in D7m over an open cadence rhythmic flow… Jackson echoes Hammill’s vocal line… a wordy 11-line stanza is crammed through the theme… 2:15, brief Jackson break (C-Eflat)… 2:30, theme three (Am-Bflat), delivered with a muffled/Leslied vocal and slow churchy Hammond notes … Hammill rises an octave amid echoey effects, Guy reenters, theme one resumes at 3:12, Hammill still drenched in echo… theme two (second variation) at 3:29, marked by Jackson’s soaring counterpoint, swelling to a pre-climax, crashes into an organ-pummeled, discombobulated take on the theme three… wind down at 4:25 engulfed in martial roll, frantic rising organ/Clavinet, scaling to high E… 4:55 rapid unwinding organ descent… @5:11, louder, more fractious reprise of theme two, thick Banton/Jackson counterpoint… slides back to theme two (second variation) at 6:06… Hammill’s now-demonic tone illuminates like smoke under the sonic murk or sax organ and piledriving drums (in later lines it seems the protagonist is not necessarily a soldier in battle but an individual fighting his way through the break realities of a collapsing society)…. Hammill fades at 6:45 as Guy plays ever speedier, cymbal-spraying as the theme modulates (Dm base shifts to Em, then C, then F and back), swells in volume, 7:43 Guy goes down-beat scorched earth as theme pummels F-D-C-G-A… cadence lets loose like a floodgate @ 8:09 where switches to a syncopated gallop amid washes of icy organ.. resolving theme two (second variation) in G6sus2 with galloping Hammond pattern…. theme three momentarily fights it way through before the track collapses to F with howling tunnel echoes..


A1. “The Undercover Man” (7:25)
A2. “Scorched Earth” (9:48)
B1. “Arrow” (9:45)
B2. “The Sleepwalkers” (10:31)

Peter Hammill — voice, piano, guitar
David Jackson — saxophone, flute
Hugh Banton — organ, bass
Guy Evans — drums, percussion

George Peckham — mastering
Pat Moran — engineer

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