Still Life (Van der Graaf Generator album)

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Still Life
Still Life vdgg.jpg
Studio album by Van der Graaf Generator
Released 15 April 1976[1]
Recorded 12-25 January 1976 at Rockfield Studios (except "Pilgrims" and "La Rossa" : June 1975 during Godbluff sessions)
Genre Progressive rock
Length 44:38
Label UK Charisma Records
USA 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]

Still Life is an album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator, originally released in 1976. It was their second album after 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. The image was described by journalist Geoff Barton in Sounds: "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]

Interviewed by Mojo in 2002, Hugh Banton said: "I remember doing Still Life, which is possibly my favourite Van der Graaf album of all, and Charisma came along and said 'Oh, this is just a stop-gap album'. The stop-gap album!? We don't make stop-gap albums!".[6]

Personnel[edit]

Van der Graaf Generator
Technical
  • Pat Moran - engineer, mixing

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.