Still Life (Van der Graaf Generator album)

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Still Life
Studio album by Van der Graaf Generator
Released 15 April 1976[1]
Recorded June 1975, 12-25 January 1976 at Rockfield Studios
Genre Progressive rock
Length 44:38
Label United Kingdom Charisma Records
United States Mercury Records
Producer Van der Graaf Generator
Van der Graaf Generator chronology
Godbluff
(1975)
Still Life
(1976)
World Record
(1976)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
An audio sample of "My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)", written by Peter Hammill, 1976)

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Still Life is an album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator, originally released in 1976. It was their second album since reforming in 1975, the first being Godbluff. One live bonus track was added for the 2005 re-release.

Cover[edit]

The album cover shows a Lichtenberg figure. In an interview by journalist Geoff Barton that was published in Sounds, he wrote that "It's actually a frozen-in-action shot of an electrical discharge from a real Van de Graaff generator machine, set in acrylic."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Peter Hammill, except where noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Pilgrims" (Hammill, David Jackson) – 7:12
  2. "Still Life" – 7:24
  3. "La Rossa" – 9:52

Side two[edit]

  1. "My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)" – 8:02
  2. "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" – 12:24

Bonus track (2005 reissue)[edit]

  1. "Gog" - 10:29
(Recorded live at Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor, Wales on 10 May 1975)

Response[edit]

Geoff Barton of Sounds wrote: "Where "Still Life" scores over past LPs is in its precise and accurate reproduction of leader Hammill's vocals. He never really sings, rather he murmurs, shouts, screams or speaks, and this wide range of tonality has presented in the past often insurmountable problems for engineers, technicians and suchlike. Here, however, every subtle nuance of the 'chords has been captured successfully, providing greater variation, an abundance of light and shade.. "Still Life" is an essential album. If you think you have problems, listen to Hammill's and you'll probably never be able to worry about anything insignificant ever again."[4]

Jonathan Barnett of New Musical Express, describing the songs on the album, wrote: "They start off with the kind of morbid over-sensibility, y'know.. smart ass existentialist one-liners like that, accompanied by furtive, lurching manic melodies that emphasise the personality disorientation of the whole thing."[5]

Steven McDonald, for AllMusic, notes that Hammill songs take ".. a dead run at a grandiose concept or two - the consequences of immortality on the title track, and the grand fate of humanity on the epic "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End." McDonald concludes: "The true highlight, however, is the beautiful, pensive "My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)", with its echoes of imagination and loss. Hammill did not achieve such a level of painful beauty again until "This Side of the Looking Glass" on Over."[2]

Hugh Banton has said Still Life is "possibly [his] favorite Van der Graaf (sic) album of all".[6]

Take away the threat of death
and all you're left with is a round of make-believe;
marshal every sullen breath
and though you're ultimately bored by endless ecstasy
that's still the ring by which you hope to be engaged
to marry the girl who will give you forever -
that's crazy, and plainly
it simply is not enough.

What is the dullest and bluntest of pains,
such that my eyes never close without feeling it there?
What abject despair demands an end to all things of infinity?
If we have gained, how do we now meet the cost?
What have we bargained, and what have we lost?
What have we relinquished, never even knowing it was there?

from Still Life, Peter Hammill.[7]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Graaf: Life goes on". Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b McDonald, Steven. "Still Life - Van der Graaf Generator | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Barton, Geoff. "Now the Immortals are Here". Sounds. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Barton, Geoff: "VDGG: a smile, a song and a nervous breakdown", Sounds, May 1976
  5. ^ Jonathan Barnett, New Musical Express, May 1976.
  6. ^ "Run For Your Lives! Van Der Graaf Generator". Mojo. May 2002. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Still Life" at www.sofasound.com