Saturday, March 25, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Van Der Graaf Generator

Artist:Van Der Graaf Generator
Song:Still Life
Album:Still Life

The British progressive rock group Van Der Graaf Generator had a cult following in the 70s. They were enigmatic and obscure even for that kind of music. They are an interesting band led by lead singer and main songwriter Pete Hammill. I guess the main attraction of the band is Hammill's dark lyrics but generally they are a hard band to market. They were formed in 1967 at Manchester University. Drummer Chris Judge Smith was inspired by a trip to San Francisco to form a band and he met Pete Hammill who was already writing songs and had been in bands. According to Smith, the name of the group was on a list he gave Hammill. Van de Graaf Generator creator Robert Van de Graaf had just died and was in the news at the time. They added organist Nick Pearne and played a gig. They sent out demos and they got a deal with Mercury Records. Pearne left as he didn't want to leave school. They brought in organist Hugh Banton, bassist Keith Ellis and drummer Guy Evans. They played live on BBC Radio and released a single on Polydor that was withdrawn because they were already under contract to Mercury. Then Smith left though he would continue to write songs with Hammill. The management issues forced Van Der Graaf Generator to disband in May 1969. Hammill continued to perform solo and he recorded an album. His manager worked out a deal with Mercury that his album would be released under the Van Der Graaf Generator name. It was called The Aerosol Grey Machine and it ended the Mercury contract. So Van Der Graaf Generator reformed with Nic Potter replacing Ellis who had joined Juicy Lucy. They also added sax and flute player David Jackson. Their manager started Charisma Records and Van Der Graaf Generator was the first band signed to the label. Potter left and Banton switched to bass. Hammill started playing keyboards. They recorded three albums and gained a cult following. They were popular in Italy so they toured there. But they got burned out and the band split up in 1972. Hammill recorded three solo albums and the others were in The Long Hello. But then they reformed and they recorded three albums in the next year. Still Life was the second album in 1976. It was released on CD in 2005 with a bonus track and it is available as a budget CD. There is no Van Der Graaf Generator comp available right now. EMI released a 4CD box set but it is out of print. The band were forced to abandon their tour due to the theft of their gear. Then Banton left followed by Jackson. An album was released in 1977 but the band had already split up. Hammill continued to record solo. But there was always talk about reforming. And they did in 2005. Today Hammill, Banton and Evans still tour as Van Der Graaf Generator. They have released new music, most recently Do Not Disturb in Sept. 2016. So the cult following is still around. Here's Van Der Graaf Generator performing Still Life at Theatrehaus in Stuttgart, Germany Mar. 4, 2007.

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