Van der Graaf Generator are an English rock band, formed at Manchester University in 1967 by singer–songwriter Peter Hammill. On their 1969 debut album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, they crossed psychedelia with darker, haunted sounds, which they codeified on the 1970 albums The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other and H to He, Who Am the Only One. With 1971’s Pawn Hearts, they conquered the long-form epic with the 22-minute existentialist suite “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers.”
After a three-year pause where Hammill issued his first five solo albums and the others recorded as The Long Hello, Van der Graaf Generator resumed with the 1975 release Godbluff, a set of stripped, aggressive rock epics, followed by the like-minded 1976 albums Still Life and World Record. In 1977, a revised lineup generated The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, a set of shorter, lilting numbers under the abridged name Van der Graaf.
They split after a 1978 tour and the live double-album Vital. Hammill released more than thirty solo albums across the following three decades. In 2005, Van der Graaf Generator reunited and issued Present.
As one of rock’s formative maximalist acts, Van der Graaf Generator helped popularize vocal theatrics, sonic enlargement, and elongated song-form within the scope of rock.
Members: Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar, piano), Nick Pearne (keyboards, 1967-68), Chris Judge Smith (drums, 1967-68), Hugh Banton (organ, bass, 1968-present), Guy Evans (drums, 1968-present), Keith Ellis (bass, 1968-69), Nic Potter (bass, 1969-70, 1977–78), David Jackson (saxophone, 1969-2005), Graham Smith (1977–78)
Van der Graaf Generator evolved from a musical partnership between drummer/singer Chris Judge Smith and singer/songwriter Peter Hammill, who met at Manchester University in 1967.
Smith had played in a string of R&B/beat groups. More recently, he visited San Francisco and — having witnessed its burgeoning acid-rock scene — hoped to replicate that city’s musical energy back home. Meanwhile, Hammill had a backlog of songs amassed since age 12. Their name was a misspelling of the Van de Graaff generator, an electrostatic generator invented by Dutch-American physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff (1901–1967).
As a duo, they played their first show on November 8, 1967, at Manchester University as an opening act for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. They soon expanded to a trio with organist Nick Pearne. On March 16, 1968, they supported Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Magic Village Club.
In May 1968, Van der Graaf Generator signed with Mercury. Smith and Hammill agreed to move to London but Pearne opted to stay in Manchester and continue his studies. In the capitol, the pair met organist Hugh Banton. Soon after, they found a manager in Tony Stratton-Smith (Koobas, The Nice). He introduced them to Koobas bassist Keith Ellis and Misunderstood drummer Guy Evans.
Van der Graaf Generator made their London debut on November 27, 1968, at the Marquee Club as the opening act for Yes. December shows included dates with Bridget St. John (12/7/68: Middleton St. George College of Education, Teesside) and Principal Edwards Magic Theatre (12/12/68: Southampton University).
1969: First Single, Early Shows
Van der Graaf Generator cut a handful of demos for Mercury but issued their debut single, “People You Were Going To” (b/w “Firebrand”), in January 1969 on Polydor. Its release coincided with concert dates with The Pretty Things (12/17/69: King’s College, London), Fairport Convention (12/18/69: Southampton Uni.), and Spice, a precursor to Uriah Heep (12/11/69: Marquee). On February 24, they played a high-profile show at London’s Royal Albert Hall supporting Jimi Hendrix and Fat Mattress, a folk-pop band led by Experience bassist Noel Redding (on guitar).
The single was quickly withdrawn amid legal red tape between Mercury, who had the band under contract, and Stratton-Smith, who didn’t want them on that label. Meanwhile, Van der Graaf Generator played winter–spring shows with Love Sculpture (3/7/69: Manchester College of Commerce), Pink Floyd (3/8/69: Reading University), The Moody Blues (3/15/69: Loughborough University), and fellow up-and-comers Black Sabbath (3/3/69: Bay Hotel, Sunderland).
Notable April dates includes bills with Welsh soul-rockers Eyes of Blue (4/30/69: Marquee) and South African psych-rockers Freedom’s Children (4/6/69: Haverstock Hill Country Club, London). On Saturday May 10, Van der Graaf Generator were bottom-billed at Notts County Football Ground for the Nottingham Pop & Blues Festival, an event headlined by Fleetwood Mac with sets by Floyd, The Move, Status Quo, and the Keef Hartley Band.
Due to the contract dispute, Van der Graaf Generator was forced to disband, but this proved temporary when Hammill recorded his first solo album and retained Banton, Evans, and Ellis as backing musicians. Smith, finding little use for his role with Evans now involved, left the camp.
The Aerosol Grey Machine
With Hammill as the only remaining member under contract with Mercury, Stratton-Smith worked out a deal whereby the label could issue Hammill’s “solo” album as the first Van der Graaf Generator album, but only in the U.S. In exchange, Hammill and the band name were freed from the contract.
The finished product, The Aerosol Grey Machine, was issued in September 1969. It contains five tracks per side, including “Afterwards,” “Aquarian,” “Into a Game,” “Octopus,” and the two-part “Orthenthian St.” Initial copies mistakenly list “Giant Squid” as the penultimate song in lieu of “Necromancer,” which actually appears as the fourth track on side two. Future-Nino Ferrer sideman Jeff Peach plays flute on the track “Running Back.”
The Aerosol Grey Machine was produced by John Anthony, a former club DJ who’s one prior credit was the 1968 single “Earth” by the band Smile, the prototype of Queen. Anthony also produced the 1969 debut album by organ-rockers Rare Bird, another Stratton-Smith client. Aerosol was co-engineered by
With the acquittal of that album, Van der Graaf Generator officially reformed and signed to Stratton-Smith’s new Charisma label. Ellis couldn’t take part because he’d committed to Juicy Lucy during the disbandment. Nic Potter, a colleague of Evans from The Misunderstood, became their new bassist. Peach was also asked to join but declined the invitation. To incorporate the reed element into their sound, they hired saxophonist/flutist David Jackson.
The reformed band played two October shows at London’s Lyceum on multi-bills with Chicken Shack and Soft Machine (10/5/69) and Family and Steppenwolf (10/19/69). The lineup of Hammill, Banton, Evans, Jackson, and Potter recorded their first album as Van der Graaf Generator over a four-day period (December 11–14, 1969) at Trident.
1970: The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other
Van der Graaf Generator released their second album, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, in February 1970 on Charisma. Each side begins with a heavy, stormy number (“Darkness (11/11),” “Whatever Would Robert Have Said?”) and concludes with a haunting epic (“White Hammer,” “After the Flood”). The ballads “Refugees” and “Out of My Book” ease the flow.
Hammill sole-wrote everything apart from the Jackson co-write “Out of My Book,” the only number under six minutes. Charisma lifted “Refugees” as a single, backed with the non-album Hammill composition “The Boat of a Million Years.”
Anthony produced The Least We Can Do with Robin Geoffrey Cable, a soundman on 1970 albums by Andwella, Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection), Harvey Andrews, Jade, Magna Carta (Seasons), Michael Chapman, and Shawn Phillips. Concurrently, Cable worked with Anthony on the self-titled Vertigo release by Affinity. Anthony applied distortion and tremolo to Hammill’s voice on “After the Flood” and inserted BBC library sound effects to the start of “Darkness.”
The Least We Can Do features guest appearances by cornetist Gerry Salisbury (“White Hammer”) and cellist Mike Hurwitz (“Refugees”). Salisbury also appears on 1969/70 albums by Bakerloo, Bonzo Dog Band, Graham Bond, and Phillips’ Second Contribution. Hurwitz joined Centipede, the 50-piece big band assembled by jazz pianist Keith Tippett, an auxiliary player in King Crimson.
The Least We Can Do sports a gatefold illustration of a dark, mountainous setting where a distant rising sun emits lightning to a freestanding tower. Embedded group photos show Van der Graaf Generator reclined on a floating log-bed (back) and huddled in the tower pod (front). The inner-gates show credits and assorted props (melting candle, marbles, Humpty Dumpty) beside photos of each member, seen as adults (top, color) and children (bottom, sepia). The sleeve was designed by CCS Advertising Associates Ltd., the firm credited with visuals on 1970 albums by Crimson (Lizard), Delivery, Free (Highway), If (If 2), Procol Harum, and Charisma label-mates Audience (Friend’s Friend’s Friend).
Live Dates, Festivals
Van der Graaf Generator appeared during the first quarter of 1970 on bills with Steamhammer (1/16/70: The Temple, London), Spirit and Forever More (2/1/70: Lyceum), and Manfred Mann Chapter Three (3/13/70: Lincoln College Ball, Oxford).
Their April–May schedule included shows with Mike Cooper (4/11/70: The Temple), Wishbone Ash (4/12/70: Esmerelda’s, Milton Keynes), Sabbath and Hardin & York (4/16/70: Empire Rooms, London), Amazing Blondel (5/4/70: Granary Club, Bristol), and double-bills at the Marquee with Jan Dukes De Grey (4/19/70) and Diabolus (5/3/70).
On May 24, 1970, Van der Graaf Generator appeared at the Plumpton Racecourse, Lewes, for the Bank Holiday Festival, which featured sets by Aquila, Argent, Black Widow, Fairfield Parlour, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Gracious, Gun, Hard Meat, May Blitz, Roy Harper, Savoy Brown, Trees, and Warm Dust.
On June 1, Van der Graaf Generator played Royal Festival Hall as part of Charisma in Concert, an event hosted by Radio 1 DJ John Peel with Audience and Deram recording artists East of Eden. On the 6th, they were supported by newcomers Gentle Giant at Exeter University. Weeks later, they played northern dates with the Groundhogs, then supporting Thank Christ for the Bomb (6/27/70: St. Helen’s Hospital) and Jackson Heights (7/2/70: City Hall, Newcastle).
Amid these activities, sessions on their third album commenced at Trident. Van der Graaf Generator were also commissioned to make the soundtrack to Eyewitness (aka Sudden Terror), a 1970 British thriller about a boy’s flee from assassins after witnessing their contract hit on a politician. EMI Films and ITC Entertainment, the film’s co-producers, balked at the finished instrumentals apart from a couple of short interludes, including a “screaming” sax piece heard during a murder scene.
On July 11–12, Van der Graaf Generator played back-to-back festivals in Germany. The first, Euro Pop ’70 A-Z, featured sets by Amon Duul II, Atomic Rooster, Bronco, Brinsley Schwarz, Can, Deep Purple, Edgar Broughton Band, Jody Grind, Mighty Baby, Out of Focus, Taste, and Traffic. The second, Aachen Open Air Pop, featured several overlapping acts, plus Caravan, Golden Earring, Kevin Ayers, Kraftwerk, Krokodil, Quintessence, and Raw Material. Later that month, VdGG headlined over Spring at the Marquee (7/23/70).
Van der Graaf Generator befriended Brinsley Schwarz, a rustic-rock quintet signed to UA/Liberty. Jackson plays saxophone on two cuts (“The Slow One,” “Funk Angel”) on Despite It All, Brinsley’s second album of 1970.
On August 9, Van der Graaf Generator returned to the Plumpton Racecourse for the Tenth National Jazz and Blues Festival, which also had sets by Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe, Cat Stevens, Clark-Hutchinson, Climax Blues Band, Colosseum, Dada, Every Which Way, Fotheringay, Incredible String Band, Made in Sweden, Patto, Peter Green, Quatermass, Strawbs, and T2.
That month, with their upcoming album half-complete, Potter left the band. Van der Graaf Generator previewed two new tracks (“Lost,” “Killer”) on a session for BBC Radio 1’s “In Concert” series (aired 10/24/70). They auditioned Brinsley roadie Dave Anderson as a possible new bassist, but the arrangement didn’t gel. Banton used organ bass pedals to compensate for Potter’s absence. (Anderson would play bass in Hawkwind on their 1971 second album In Search of Space.)
On November 1, Van der Graaf Generator performed at the University of Sussex, Brighton, as part of the Grand Benefit Festival, which featured sets by Gringo, John Martyn, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and rising label-mates Genesis, who appeared as a four-piece (having recently lost guitarist Anthony Phillips). Further Nov.–Dec. dates included bills with Lindisfarne (11/3/70: Marquee), Clear Blue Sky (11/20/70: Haverstock Hill Country Club, London), Cochise (11/28/70: Imperial College, London), and a triple-bill with Aardvark and Sam Apple Pie (12/11/70: Northeast Essex Technical College, Colchester).
H to He, Who Am the Only One
Van der Graaf Generator released their third album, H to He, Who Am the Only One, on December 20, 1970, on Charisma.
“Killer” (8:24) killer shark, unused Smith composition “A Cloud as Big as a Man’s Hand” Banton organ riff
“House with No Door” (6:37) piano ballad about isolation and romantic disconnectedness
“The Emperor in His War Room” (8:15) concerns a sadistic despot who finds himself haunted by his victims. It’s split in two parts: “The Emperor” and “The Room”.
“Lost” (11:17) “The Dance in Sand and Sea” “The Dance in Frost”
“Pioneers Over c” (12:42) about astronauts who travel at the speed of sound of light (denoted in physics as c)
Potter plays bass on “Killer,” “The Emperor in His War Room,” and “Lost,” the three tracks cut before his August departure. Banton plays bass on “House with No Door” and “Pioneers Over c,” plus oscillator on select passages. Hammill, in turn, plays piano on “House with No Door,” a largely solo piece. Jackson fed his saxophone through assorted effects pedals on this and subsequent recordings.
Anthony and Cable manned the soundboards during the album’s June–November sessions. The assistant engineer, Trident’s David Hentschel, earned one of his earliest credits on He to He. Anthony produced this album immediately after the June 1970 sessions that yielded Trespass, the breakthrough second album by Genesis.
King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp, a fan of The Least We Can Do, cut two spontaneous solos for “The Emperor in His War Room” that were spliced together for the finished piece. His band — then between album’s two (In the Wake of Poseidon) and three (Lizard) — were off the road during 1970 due to lineup instability. This marked Fripp’s first appearance as a session guitarist, a role in which he later proliferated with credits on albums by David Bowie (Heroes, Scary Monsters), Brian Eno (Another Green World, Before and After Science), and the first three solo titles by Peter Gabriel.
H to He, Who Am the Only One is the first of two Van der Graaf Generator albums with cover art by Paul Whitehead, who applied existing works to the “Pioneers Over c” concept. The front displays a porthole view (mirrored on the back with credits) of a pioneer’s lower extremities, hovered over a satellite that beams light down on London. The painting on the inner-gates (Checkmate) depicts a cosmic vortex, seen through the eyes of a pioneer, whose pale hands appear in the outer foreground. Whitehead also illustrated the cover of Trespass and the two subsequent Genesis albums.
H to He refers to the fusion of hydrogen (H) nuclei to form helium (He).
UK Charisma copies frame the porthole in purple with orange letters and trim. Dutch copies use blue framework. In the US, H to He appeared with meringue framework on Dunhill, a division of ABC Records.
1971: Six Bob Gigs
In January 1971, Stratton-Smith arranged a package tour of Charisma acts, dubbed the “Six Bob Tour” (12 pence = 1 shilling, aka six bob). The first leg opened with newcomers Lindisfarne (one album), followed by rising stars Genesis (two albums). Van der Graaf Generator (three albums) headlined the shows, which commenced with a 1/24 show at the Lyceum, the sixth live appearance Genesis made with their new guitarist, Steve Hackett.
The initial tour covered seven consecutive nights, wrapping on the 31st at City Hall, Newcastle (Lindisfarne’s home turf). Two more dates were added in Brighton (2/11/71: Dome) and Bournemouth (2/13/71: Winter Gardens), interjected with a date on the 12th at Central London Polytechnic with Free, then on the verge of their initial breakup. The tour proved most beneficial to Lindisfarne, whose upcoming second album Fog On the Tyne would reach No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart.
On March 24, Van der Graaf Generator and Lindisfarne played Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall with a third act, Bell & Arc, a union of singer Graham Bell (then part of Charisma act Every Which Way, led by ex-Nice drummer Brian Davison) and ARC (featuring two-fifths of Skip Bifferty, a group Bell fronted.) On the 27th, VdGG played Birmingham’s Olympic Roller Arena with The Dog That Bit People, a spinoff of Locomotive. On Friday April 9, VdGG headlined the Lyceum Easter Festival, supported by Audience, Genesis, Bell & Arc, and Patto, the follow-through to Timebox with a self-titled album on Vertigo.
Van der Graaf Generator played four April 11–15 shows with Genesis and a third slot rotated by Lindisfarne and Bell & Arc. The latter took third billing on another four dates (April 23–26) in Scotland and Manchester. Bell returned to Every Which Way for back-to-back dates in the Netherlands (April 30–May 1), where they opened for VdGG with fellow Nice-spinoff Jackson Heights. Van der Graaf Generator then took Jackson Heights and Audience (then plugging The House On the Hill) on the New London Pop Tour, a 17-date trek of Germany and Switzerland (May 2–23).
Van der Graaf Generator’s June itinerary included dates with Medicine Head (6/21/71: Civic Theatre, Chelmsford) and a triple-bill with rustic rockers Cochise and Bronco, fronted by ex-Alan Bown Set singer Jess Roden (6/26/71: City Hall, Sheffield). They rounded out the month at Little John’s Farm for the 1971 Reading Festival, a three-day event with sets by Anno Domini, Armada, Arthur Brown, Gillian McPherson, Renaissance, Ricotti–Albuquerque, and Terry Reid. Van der Graaf Generator played on the third day (Sunday the 27th) along with Al Kooper, Osibisa, Rory Gallagher, Steel Mill, Storyteller, and Stray.
On July 2, Van der Graaf Generator played London’s Greenford Town Hall with Fusion Orchestra, then emerging as a wild live act, two years off from their singular album Skeleton in Armour. On the 30th, VdGG played the Marquay Club as part of the Torquay Two-Day Festival with the Mick Abrahams Band, the ex-Jethro Tull guitarist’s follow-through to Blodwyn Pig.
That month, Van der Graaf Generator reentered Trident with Anthony to record their fourth album. Meanwhile, Hammill debuted as a solo artist with Fool’s Mate, comprised of twelve songs (folk and pop style) from his backlog.
On August 15, Van der Graaf Generator played Implosion, a multi-act event at London’s Roundhouse that included sets by Mighty Baby, Home, and Dando Shaft. On the 29th, they played the Weeley Festival, a three-day event in Clacton on Sea, Essex, with sets by Al Stewart, Barclay James Harvest, Curved Air, Faces, Heads Hands & Feet, Kingdom Come, Mott the Hoople, Stone the Crows, Tír na nÓg, Caravan (plugging In the Land of Grey and Pink), Groundhogs (plugging Split), and gatecrashers the Pink Fairies.
Van der Graaf Generator’s September shows included a Swiss date with Belgian psychsters Waterloo (9/10/71: Ice Rink Small Wood, Olten) and a top-billing at the Hammersmith Town Hall for the Action for the Crippled Child Charity Concert, supported by singer-songwriter Colin Scot and Paul Brett’s Sage.
Hammill (along with Evans, Jackson, Potter, and Fripp) appears on Scot’s eponymous debut album, a 1971 UA release with backing by Brinsley Schwarz and Rick Wakeman (pre-Yes). Peter is credited as “Van der Hammill” in the nine-piece cast of backing vocalists, which also includes Gabriel, Alan Hull, Jon Anderson, Phil Collins, Steve Gould (Rare Bird), Jane Relf (Renaissance, Illusion), and Ann Steuart (Tudor Lodge).
Van der Graaf Generator released their fourth album, Pawn Hearts, in October 1971 on Charisma (UK) and Philips (Europe). Side one contains the half-side Hammill compositions “Lemmings (Including ‘Cog’)” and “Man-Erg.” The group-composed ten-part suite “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” consumes side two. Robert Fripp guests on all three numbers.
“Lemmings (Including ‘Cog’)” (11:35)
“A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” (23:04)
Sessions took place across three months (July–September 1971) at Trident with Anthony, Cable, Hentschel, and Ken Scott, a late-period Beatles soundman (the “white” album) who also worked on albums by Jeff Beck, Linda Lewis, Mary Hopkin, Third Ear Band, and Bowie’s recent output (The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory). The sections to “Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” were recorded separately and edited into sequence after sessions wrapped. Banton’s Pawn Hearts arsenal includes the Hammond E & C and Farfisa Professional organs, Mellotron, ARP synthesizer, bass, and “psychedelic razor,” in addition to piano and bass pedals. Hammill plays the slide guitar and Hohner pianet.
Pawn Hearts is housed in a gatefold sleeve, designed by Whitehead (outer) with photography by Keith Morris (inner). The outer-spread depicts the cumulus sky as a wraparound sheet that hovers over the moon amid floating pawns of assorted characters (saints, astronauts, simpletons). The inner presents a saturated photo of Jackson exchanging a Heil salute with the other three. Whitehead also did the cover to Fool’s Mate, Colin Scot, and 1971/72 albums by C.O.B., Genesis (Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot), and Steamhammer (Speech). Morris’s photography also appears on 1970/71 albums by Gypsy, Keith Christmas, Led Zeppelin (IV), Nick Drake (Bryter Layter), Peter Bardens, Shelagh McDonald, Supertramp, and on the backs of albums by Aubrey Small, Jan Dukes De Grey (Mice and Rats In the Loft), and Steeleye Span.
Pawn Hearts was planned as a double-album with a second record comprised mostly of live and solo pieces. The additional material includes Hammill’s “W” (5:04), Evans’ “Angle of Incidents” (4:48), Banton’s “Diminutions” (6:00), Jackson’s jazz short “Ponker’s Theme” (1:28), and a cover of “Theme One,” the nightly sign-off instrumental on BBC Radio 1 by Beatles producer George Martin. The live material consists of an impromptu in-studio medley of the Aerosol Grey Machine chestnuts “Squid 1 – Squid 2 – Octopus” (15:24).
Charisma balked at the proposed second record but issued “Theme One” as a single (February 1972), backed with an abridged “W.” In North America, where Pawn Hearts appeared on Charisma (US) and Buddah (Canada), “Theme One” is inserted between “Lemmings” and “Man-Erg” on side one. John Peel replaced Martin’s version of “Theme One” with the group’s on his nightly send-offs. Material for the second record later appeared as bonus tracks on 2005 CD reissues of Pawn Hearts and He to He, Who Am the Only One.
Pawn Hearts reached No. 1 in Italy, where Van der Graaf Generator played to Beatles-level fanfare. The Italian market proved hospitable to the band’s edgy, theatrical, long-form music style. A similar reception greeted the like-minded Genesis, whose concurrent Nursery Cryme (a non-charter in the UK, where they were still a cult act) reached No. 4 on the Italian chart. Italy’s enthusiasm for VdGG, Genesis, and similar acts (Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson) sparked a local explosion of bands in this vein, including Il Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Osanna, Quella Vecchia Locanda, and Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM).
Italian Tour, First Breakup
Van der Graaf Generator promoted Pawn Hearts with a ten-week UK tour (Oct. 1–Dec. 19) that included multiple bills with recurrent tour-mates Audience, Genesis, Lindisfarne, and Bell & Arc, who just released an album as a merged entity. Other notable dates that fall included shows with Khan (10/14/71: Lyceum), Hawkwind (11/20/71: Technical College, Luton), Ben (12/19/71: Twynight Club, High Wycombe), and German Vertigo artists Brave New World (11/21/71: Redcar Jazz Club).
On January 8, 1972, Van der Graaf Generator played London’s Central Polytechnic with Stud, a free-jam trio comprised of guitarist Jim Cregan (Blossom Toes) and Rory Gallagher’s onetime rhythm section in Taste.
On February 8, Van der Graaf Generator launched their first tour of Italy, starting with two shows on the same night at Milan’s Massimo Theater. The tour encompassed twelve shows in eight cities, concluding with a Feb. 15 stop at the Hit Parade Club in Lugo. After another round of UK shows, they did a mid-March stint in Belgium, where they made their only documented performance of “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” for local television.
Multiple dates in the Netherlands and Sweden preceded Van der Graaf Generator’s second tour of Italy (May 20–June 4), where they played fourteen cities. Their stop in Rome was at the Festival pop di Villa Pamphili, a May 26 event with sets by Banco, Blue Morning, Garybaldi, Osage Tribe, Osanna, Procession, Quella Vecchia Locanda, Raccomandata Ricevuta di Ritorno, Semiramis, The Trip, Toad, and fellow Brits Hookfoot.
Van der Graaf Generator buckled from the demands of touring and audience hysteria in the Italian market. On June 30, they played their final UK show for three years at the Winter Gardens in Malvern. Their third tour of Italy (July 29–Aug. 6) covered seven cities, five with back-to-back shows, concluding at the Locanda del Lupo in Rimini.
A pre-booked two-nighter (Sept. 9–10) in Montbeilard, France, was scuttled when Van der Graaf Generator, reeling from exhaustion, went on hiatus.
Interim Period: Hammill Solo, The Long Hello
Peter Hammill affirmed his solo ambitions with the May 1973 Charisma release Chameleon In the Shadow of the Night, a largely self-performed set of eight originals. Jackson plays flute on five tracks, including “Rock and Rôle,” which also features Evans and Potter. The entire Pawn Hearts lineup performs the closing epic “(In the) Black Room–The Tower” (10:53), the most VdGG-style number.
On the side, Hammill wrote lyrics for the English-language version of Felona e Sorona, the fourth album by Italian symphonic-rockers Le Orme. (In this capacity, he mirrored Peter Sinfield, the 1969–71 non-performing King Crimson wordsmith who wrote English lyrics for Photos of Ghosts, the Anglosphere version of Per un Amico, the second album by PFM.)
By the time Chameleon appeared, Hammill was already recording the followup. He dropped his third album, The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage, in February 1974. It features seven originals: three self-performed (“Modern,” “Wilhelmina,” “Rubicon”), one with Banton (“The Lie (Bernini’s Saint Theresa)”), two by all of Van der Graaf Generator (“Forsaken Gardens,” “A Louse is Not a Home”), and one with the band and guest guitarist Randy California (“Red Shift”). The closing number, “A Louse is Not a Home” (12:15), is another epic in the VdGG mold.
Hammill promoted Silent with a February ’74 tour of the English college and theater circuit, supported by Be-Bop Deluxe, a rising glam-metal band recently signed to EMI Harvest.
Immediately after finishing Silent, Hammill recorded a more experimental followup. In Camera appeared in July 1974, five months after its predecessor. It features eight originals, including “(No More) the Sub-mariner,” dominated by Hammill’s use of the ARP 2600 synthesizer. Evans drums on “Tapeworm” and “Gog,” a demonic number with Hammill on harmonium. It segues into “Magog (in Bromine Chambers)” (9:41), a musique concrète piece with treated piano, ARP, and Mellotron, plus musical guests Smith and Whitehead on percussion. Hammill recorded all three albums at his Surrey-based Sofa Sound Studio.
Meanwhile, the other members of Van der Graaf Generator (Potter included) formed The Long Hello with guitarists Ced Curtis and . Their self-titled album, recorded in August 1973, first appeared in 1974 on United Artists (Italy). It features seven instrumentals; mostly acoustic, quiet, and unlike anything in the VdGG catalog. Musically, The Long Hello is reminiscent of Bo Hansson and Island-era Jade Warrior (Floating World, Waves). Jackson composed four tracks and co-wrote one (“Fairhazel Gardens”) with . Banton contributed “Brain Seizure.”
Elsewhere, Jackson contributed sax, flute, and backing vocals to the 1974 Bacillus release Only the Dancers, the third album by the German art-rock band Nine Days’ Wonder. He also plays flute on two tracks (“Serenesse,” “Oratore”) on Come Un Vecchio Incensiere All’Alba Di Un Villaggio Deserto, the 1973 second album by Italian singer–composer Alan Sorrenti.
In late 1974, Van der Graaf Generator reconvened. Before any new activity under the band name, they recorded Nadir’s Big Chance, released in February 1975 as Hammill’s fifth solo album. Here, he presents the alter ego Rikki Nadir, an “anarchic presence” who “crash[es] his way through distorted three-chord wonders” with “beefy punk songs… weepy ballads [and] soul struts.” As indicated by the liner notes, the album presaged the upcoming punk uprising by two years.
Musically, Nadir’s Big Chance ranges from buzzing proto-punk (“Birthday Special,” the title-track) and head-spinning accounts of young lust (“Open Your Eyes”) to songs of madness (“The Institute of Mental Health, Burning”), decadence and downfall (“Pompeii”). Judge Smith co-wrote “Institute” and contributed the ballad “Been Alone So Long.” Side two includes a five-minute remake of “People You Were Going To,” VdGG’s long-unavailable debut a-side.
The reformed Van der Graaf Generator played their first two shows in Wales on May 9–10 at Lampeter University and Theater Gwynedd, Bangor. They proceeded on a 15-date tour of France (May 14–30) that culminated with a two-nighter at the Wagram Room in Paris. After a pair of Belgian gigs, they started work on a new album at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales.
The resulting Godbluff appeared on October 10, 1975, on Charisma (UK) and Mercury (US). It’s their first self-produced album, comprised of three lengthy Hammill compositions and the Jackson co-write “Scorched Earth.” Van der Graaf Generator adopt a leaner sound on this recording, dominated by Hammond organ and saxophone. Hammill adds the Hohner Clavinet D6 keyboard to his arsenal and assumes the role of electric guitarist, dispensing the band’s earlier guitar-free arrangement.
“The Undercover Man” (7:32)
“Scorched Earth” (9:44)
“The Sleepwalkers” (10:40)
Sessions took place over a three-week period (June 9–29) with engineer Pat Moran, the one-time singer and Mellotron player in symphonic-rockers Spring, which opened for Van der Graaf Generator on a July 1970 Marquee date and issued a prized 1971 self-titled album, one of Rockfield’s earliest recordings. Spring earned Moran a soundman position at the Monmouthshire studio, where he engineered 1972–74 albums by Ace, Budgie, CMU, Headstone (Bad Habits), Home (The Alchemist), Nutz, and Skin Alley. His two most recent credits were Cordon Bleu, the third album by Dutch jazz-rockers Solution; and Futurama, the breakthrough second album by Be-Bop Deluxe. Hammill’s recent solo recordings (Chameleons, Silent Corner, Nadir) involved Moran’s Rockfield services amid regular sessions at Sofa Sound.
Two additional songs from the Godbluff sessions, “Pilgrims” and “La Rossa,” were held over for the next album.
Godbluff is the first in a trilogy of Van Der Graaf Generator albums with a distinct band logo (three-dimensional chrome, sans serif, inverted pyramid V) designed by John Pasche, who made a similar logo for Rare Bird on their 1970 second album As Your Mind Flies By. He also designed visuals for the electro-rock duo Seventh Wave on their 1975 Gull release Sci-Fi, which features Banton’s Mellotron and ARP on the track “Manifestations.”
After sessions wrapped, Van Der Graaf Generator played a July 27 show at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre. Their setlist included several group-minded numbers from Hammill’s solo albums (“In the Black Room,” “Forsaken Gardens,” “A Louse Is Not a Home,” “Faint Heart and the Sermon,” “Gog”). In August, they embarked on an eleven-city tour of Italy. In late September, they played a round of Benelux dates.
The official Godbluff tour commenced on October 5 at Liverpool Stadium and featured 33 stops that covered the UK, Belgium, and France before wrapping on December 1 in Rome, Italy, where eleven scheduled dates had to be cancelled. A notable date on this tour was the London Audio Fair (10/26/75: Olympia, London), which also featured sets by Tangerine Dream, Peter Atkin, and Australian satirist Clive James.
1976: Still Life
Van der Graaf Generator released their sixth album, Still Life, on April 15, 1976, on Charisma and Mercury. It features five lengthy songs, all sole-credited to Hammill apart from the Jackson co-write “Pilgrims,” a holdover from the Godbluff sessions. Banton reintroduces the Mellotron on this release and shares piano duties with Hammill.
“Still Life” (7:25)
“La Rossa” (9:53)
“My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)” (8:03)
“Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End” (12:24)
The title track and side two were recorded over a thirteen-day period (January 12–25, 1976) at Rockfield, where Van der Graaf Generator self-produced Still Life in the presence of Moran, who also engineered 1976 albums by Supercharge and Tiger (Goin’ Down Laughing).
The cover of Still Life, photographed by one , shows the image of a Lichtenberg figure: a bush-like electrical discharge from a Van de Graaff generator.
Van der Graaf Generator ushered Still Life with a two-night engagement (April 10–19) at the Roundhouse, supported by Bowie’s ex-backing band the Spiders from Mars and nascent pub rockers The 101ers, then on the verge of their debut single (“Keys to Your Heart”) and disbandment because their frontman, Joe Strummer, was proselytized a fortnight earlier by the Sex Pistols, their rambunctious opening act at the Nashville Rooms. (That summer, Strummer formed The Clash.)
Sunrise Festival, Reading Rock ’76
In May 1976, Van der Graaf Generator reentered Rockfield to record their third album in the span of twelve months. After sessions wrapped, VdGG flew to Switzerland for a two-night stand (June 2–3) at the Carouge Festival Hall in Geneva. The opening act was String Driven Thing, Charisma vets at the end of their road after four albums and multiple lineups.
On June 6, Van der Graaf Generator appeared at the Offenburg Fairgrounds in Offenburg, Germany, for the Sunrise Festival, which also featured sets by Bob Marley, The Kinks, American funksters WAR, and Swansea jam-rockers Man, who just issued their studio swan song Welsh-Connection.
In late June, Hammill cut his sixth solo album, Over, a collection of dark ballads concerning his romantic breakup with a woman named Alice. It features Evans and Potter on three tracks (“Crying Wolf,” “Time Heals,” “Lost and Found”), plus orchestration on “This Side of the Looking Glass” by BBC Radio conductor Michael Brand. Violinist Graham Smith, who recently departed String Driven Thing, plays on the tracks “Autumn” and “Betrayed.” Sessions took place at Rockfield (with Moran) and another Welsh facility, Foel Studio in Llanfair Caereinion, where Dave Anderson and ex-Brinsley guitarist Ian Gomm worked the soundboards. Over‘s release was withheld until April 1977 to avoid interference with Van der Graaf Generator’s upcoming album.
In late August, Van der Graaf Generator returned to Little John’s Farm for the 1976 Reading Festival, a three-day event with sets by A Band Called “O”, Automatic Fine Tuning, Back Door, Brand X, The Enid, Gong, Mallard, and Sassafras. VdGG played on the second day (Saturday the 28th) along with Camel, Colosseum II, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Moon, Pat Travers, Phil Manzanera’s 801, and the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver (two rustic-rock acts merged for several albums, including their current Slipstream). VdGG’s set immediately followed the 5:15 pm slot of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, whose just-released seventh album, The Roaring Silence, would be their global breakthrough. The closing act that evening, Rory Gallagher, was gearing for his upcoming album Calling Card, produced by Roger Glover.
On September 14, Van der Graaf Generator played Edinburgh’s Playhouse Theater, supported by Brand X, then plugging their debut album Unorthodox Behaviour. Phil Collins drummed for that band (and percussionist Robin Lumley’s side-project Marscape) between his commitments as the drummer and now-singer of Genesis, which (like VdGG) issued two 1976 studio albums: A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering.
Van der Graaf Generator dropped their seventh album, World Record, in October 1976 on Charisma and Mercury. It follows the format of Still Life with five lengthy songs, including “Meurglys III, The Songwriter’s Guild” (20:50), their second-longest track. Hammill sole-wrote everything apart from the grandiose album-closer “Wondering,” a Banton co-write. Soundwise, this is their most stripped-down album, dominated by sharp Hammond and trebly guitar riffs. At 52:19, World Record is their longest single studio album (before their 2005 reunion).
“When She Comes” (8:02)
“A Place to Survive” (10:05)
“Meurglys III, The Songwriter’s Guild”
Van der Graaf Generator self-produced World Record over a twenty-day period (May 10–30) with Moran’s services at Rockfield. The credits list Hammill’s instruments as “Meurglys III” (guitar) and “Wassistderpunktenbacker” — his second appropriation of the word “punk,” still months before it stuck as the name of a music and fashion movement.
The World Record cover, which plays on the title with a hybrid Earth–LP circle, is credited to A.D. Design, the firm behind album visuals for Alkatraz, George Hatcher Band, Groundhogs (Black Diamond), and Patrick Moraz (Out In the Sun).
While at Rockfield, Van der Graaf Generator provided “extra vocal revelry” on the title-track of Dinner at the Ritz, the second album by Brummie art-rockers City Boy, released in early 1977 on Vertigo. Jackson himself plays saxophone on the track. The album’s closing piece, the three-part “State Secrets – A Thriller,” has an opening riff that Hammill lifted for a new composition, “The Sphinx in the Face.”
Charisma lifted “Wondering” as a single, backed with an edit (4:23) of “Meurglys III, The Songwriter’s Guild,” affixed with the descriptor “Part One (Approx: 0.35%) of.” (Note: If the abridged length was actually 0.35% of the song, 100% of “Meurglys III” would last for 20 hours 52 mins and 23 secs.)
World Record Tour
Van der Graaf Generator ushered World Record with a six-show tour of Benelux (September 22–27, 1976). On October 2, they appeared at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany, as part of the First Dortmunder Rock Dream, which also featured sets by Franz K., Gordon Giltrap, John Cale, Magna Carta, Rainbow, Scorpions, Wallenstein, Camel (promoting Moonmadness), and contemporaries Golden Earring, another band who released two albums in 1976 (To the Hilt and Contraband).
On October 6, Van der Graaf Generator made their North American debut at the Cultural Center, Sherbrooke, Quebec. The Canadian wing covered seven cities, six of them in the French province, including an Oct. 9 show at the Paul Sauve Arena in Montreal, supported by local art-rockers Maelstrom. They made their US debut on the 18th at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. This would be their only American show as Mercury, their stateside label, withdrew its support.
Van der Graaf Generator rounded out 1976 with tours of the UK (Nov. 8–22) and France (Nov. 26–Dec. 8). Their Dec. 9 show at ATSV Hall in Saarbrucken, Germany, would be their last with Banton, who left the band to settle into domesticity.
1977: Van der Graaf
In January 1977, Hammill, Evans, and Jackson welcomed back Potter, whose activities during the prior six years (apart from Long Hello and Hammill’s solo albums) included bass work on Out of Nowhere, the 1971 Barclay release by folkster Henry Schifter; and the 1972/73 Rare Bird albums Epic Forest and Somebody’s Watching.
Van der Graaf Generator opted for a change of sound with the addiction of Graham Smith, the classically trained violinist who joined String Driven Thing for their 1972 eponymous second album, their first on Charisma, and played on the 1973–75 albums The Machine That Cried, Please Mind Your Head, and Keep Yer ‘And on It. The last two feature none of the original Scottish trio that recorded the 1970 Concord title String Driven Thing. Smith also played on 1974–76 albums by Greenslade and Al Stewart (Year of the Cat).
The revamped five-piece group recorded Hammill’s “The Sphinx in the Face.” As rehearsals commenced for their upcoming album and tour, Jackson left the band. In light of the recent changes, the lineup of Hammill, Evans, Potter, and Smith shortened the band name to Van der Graaf.
On February 20, 1977, Van der Graaf played the Roundhouse with German jazz-funksters Kraan and local pub-punks Plummet Airlines. After a Feb. 28 show at Oslo’s New Castle, they did an eight-date tour of Benelux that included a March 11 show at Maeke Blyde Hall in Poperinge, Belgium, with Dutch rockers Alquin. Mid-month, they played four German double-bills with Hawkwind, who were gearing for their upcoming seventh studio album Quark Strangeness and Charm, their second of four albums with charasmatic frontman Robert Calvert.
In May, Van der Graaf started work on a new album. On June 9, they made their sole summer appearance in Montreux, Switzerland.
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome
Van der Graaf released The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome on September 2, 1977, on Charisma and Mercury. The split title refers to the LP sides: The Quiet Zone (side one) and The Pleasure Dome (side two). Each side contains four proper songs, mostly in the 4-6-minute range. Hammill composed everything apart from the Smith co-write “Cat’s Eye–Yellow Fever,” a melodramatic rocker with lilting violin.
Hammill produced The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome during the month-long sessions (May 13–June 12) that took place at Rockfield (with Moran) and Foel (with Anderson and Gomm). Jackson is credited for “Sphinx-like” inserts on “The Sphinx in the Face” and the album-closing postlude “The Sphinx Returns.” Moran also engineered 1977 albums by R&B stalwarts Dr. Feelgood (Sneakin’ Suspicion, their fourth and last with guitarist Wilko Johnson) and Canadian rockers Rush (A Farewell to Kings).
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome features a cover painting by one Jess Artem. It depicts a long-legged female leaned back on a swing (obscured) in Earth’s orbit. For this and the subsequent album, Pasche designed a revised logo (slanted, thin stripes, curve-tipped V, elongated R dips).
Charisma issued “Cat’s Eye” as a single, backed with the non-album “Ship of Fools,” a Hammill-penned hard rocker.
Final Tour, Vital
Van der Graaf followed the album’s release with a set at the Scheesel First Rider Open Air Festival, a September 3 event at the Oak Ring Speedway in Rotenburg, Germany, with sets by Camel (promoting Rain Dances) and Colosseum II (showcasing material from their two albums of 1977: Electric Savage and War Dance). Mid-month, they played three straight nights in Portugal. Cellist Charles “Chas” Dickie augmented the band on these and subsequent shows.
The tour behind The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome officially launched with an October 5 show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Five straight nights of Belgian gigs followed, capped with an Oct. 11 show at the Roundabout in Luxembourg City. Over the next six weeks, they did a 25-date UK tour (Oct. 14–Nov. 13), followed by a 12-city tour of France (Nov. 14–28) sprinkled with Swiss gigs. Van der Graaf played their last show of 1977 on November 29 at Hall TUS1860 in Forcheim, Germany, with local jazz-rockers Deja Vu.
Van der Graaf greeted 1978 with a two-night stand (January 15–16) at the Marquee. Jackson appeared as a guest during the second half of both shows.
In March, Hammill recorded his seventh studio album, The Future Now, comprised of short, experimental songs characterized by minimalist arrangements and electronic studio trickery. The largely self-performed effort features Jackson on two tracks (“Pushing Thirty,” “The Second Hand”), Smith on two others (“Energy Vampires,” “If I Could”), and both on the album closer “Palinurus (Castaway).” Musically, this album and its two followups aligned Hammill with the oncoming wave of minimal synth performers (Cabaret Voltaire, Dalek I, Human League, John Foxx) and select adacious contemporaries (Bowie, Eno, Fripp, Gabriel, Bill Nelson, Scott Walker).
In the five months between that album’s completion and September 1978 release, Van der Graaf played an April 4 show at London’s Rainbow. After a small round of UK dates, they launched a 12-city French tour (May 18–31). They returned to the Marquee for a two-night stand (June 4–5) that would prove to be their final UK shows for 27 years. In attendance was ex-Pistols frontman John Lydon, then in the process of launching his followup act Public Image Limited.
Van der Graaf played their final show on June 17, 1978, in Oberwart, Austria, as part of the Kohfidsch Open Air Festival.
In July, Charisma issued Vital, a live double-album culled from the January 16 Marquee show. Side one features elongated versions of “Ship of Fools” (6:44), “Still Life” (9:44), and “Last Frame” (9:05). The remaining three sides feature Jackson. Sides two and three are each split between epics suites — “Medley: A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers—The Sleepwalkers” (13:43) and “Pioneers over c” (17:08) — and two as-yet unreleased Hammill songs: “Mirror Images” (which appears on his 1979 eighth album ph7) and “Sci-Finance” (revisited on his 1988 release In a Foreign Town). Side four features “Door” (an unrecorded late-period number), “Urban— Killer—Urban” (a combination of the He to He classic and an unrecorded new number), and “Nadir’s Big Chance.” The rockier numbers exhibit a newfound rawness, reflecting their assimilation of hard rock and punk influences.
After Van der Graaf
Peter Hammill proliferated as a solo artist with an album per year through 1983. His 1979 release ph7 (his eighth), features backing by Jackson on one cut (“Careering”), Graham Smith on two (“My Favourite,” “Imperial Walls”), and both on “Porton Down” and “Mr X (Gets Tense).” It also features the acoustic ballad “Time For a Change,” a co-write between Judge Smith and Skywhale guitarist Steve Robshaw. The album follows the experimental approach of its predecessor with wild sound effects on assorted passages, including the segued closing numbers “Mr X” and “Faculty X,” which effectively form a combined 10-minute epic.
Hammill issued his ninth album, A Black Box, in 1980 on S-Type, a short-lived self-press. It dives into proto-jungle beat box loops (“Jargon King”) and frosty minimal wave (“In Slow Time”). Jackson plays on “Fogwalking” and “Flight,” a seven-part epic that consumes side two (19:37). The album also features keyboardist David Ferguson of the new wave act Random Hold, formed by bassist Bill MacCormick, formerly of Robert Wyatt‘s post-Softs band Matching Mole and Phil Manzanera’s Quiet Sun. Hammill produced the 1979 Random Hold EP and their 1980 album Etceteraville in advance of their opening slot on the tour behind Peter Gabriel’s third solo album (aka “melting face”).
In 1981, Hammill signed to Virgin for Sitting Targets, which pairs the prior experiments with tighter song-based form. He continued this path on the 1982/83 albums Enter K and Patience, both released on his own Niave Records label. By this point, he used a three-piece backing band comprised of Evans, Potter, and ex-Vibrators bassist John Ellis, who also played on Gabriel’s works.
After an album of re-recorded ballads from his backlog (The Love Songs), Hammill returned with two 1986 albums: the hi-tech Skin (featuring Banton, Evans, and Jackson) and the unacompanied piano-vocal release As Close as This. He continued the hi-tech path on 1988’s politically charged In a Foreign Town. During the 1990s, he released eight studio albums, including the 1991 double-disc The Fall of the House of Usher, a rock opera based on the namesake Poe short story with vocals by Lene Lovich and Andy Bell (Erasure).
As a singer, Hammill appears on three tracks (“Disengage,” “Chicago,” “I’ve Had Enough of You”) on Exposure, the 1979 debut solo album by friend Robert Fripp. On April 4, 1980, the two partook in a benefit concert for imprisoned Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwall, dueting on two numbers from that band’s 1978 third album Black and White: “Tank” and “Threatened.” Hammill also does backing vocals on three songs (“The Family and the Fishing Net,” “Shock the Monkey,” “Lay Your Hands on Me”) on Gabriel’s fourth solo album (aka Security).
Nic Potter formed The Tigers with drummer Peter Dobson (Juicy Lucy) and guitarist Ross McGeeney (Starry Eyed and Laughing). They released one album of ska-tinged pop, Savage Music, in 1980 on WEA. In 1984, Potter issued Mountain Music, his first of multiple synth-based albums on self-press Zomart Records.
Guy Evans drummed for assorted Gong offshoots, including 1981 albums by Mother Gong (Robot Woman) and saxophonist Didier Malherbe (Melodic Destiny). In 1987, he surfaced in the experiemental combo Echo City, which cut the disc Gramophone at Hammill’s Sofa Sound studio.
David Jackson plays on Silesia, the 1982 solo album by singer and multi-instrumentalists Jakko M. Jakszyk, an associate of keyboardist Dave Stewart (Arzachel, Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Bruford), who appears on the album with Northettes Amanda Parsons and Barbara Gaskin (Spirogyra).
Graham Smith moved to Iceland, where in 1981 he released Með Töfraboga, his first of four Icelandic folk albums.
In 1981, Potter and Evans revived the Long Hello monicker for the Butt Records release The Long Hello Volume Two, which features Jackson on five cuts. Jackson took the name for the 1982 Butt release The Long Hello Volume Three, where he’s backed by Evans, Jakko, and Dave Anderson. The 1983 Shanghai Records release The Long Hello Volume Four is co-credited to Jackson and Life of Riley, Evans’ band with fellow Mother Gong alumni, including guitarist–bassist Chris Kerridge, a onetime backing player of folkster Nigel Mazlyn Jones.
- The Aerosol Grey Machine (1969)
- The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (1970)
- H to He, Who Am the Only One (1970)
- Pawn Hearts (1971)
- Godbluff (1975)
- Still Life (1976)
- World Record (1976)
- The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (1977)
- Vital (1978 — live 1/16/78)
- Discogs: Van der Graaf Generator
- English Albums: U–V (page 2)
- 45cat: Van der Graaf Generator
- 45worlds: Van der Graaf Generator
- Concerts Wiki: Van der Graaf Generator
- John Peel Wiki: Van der Graaf Generator
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