Album of the Day: Van Der Graaf (9/2/77)

515RQBG706L._SL160_In the four decades in which the band and its key member Peter Hammill have been recording progressive art-rock, Van Der Graaf has likely gone through more starts and stops, and a faster revolving door of personnel, than any other rock group. Founded by Hammill and two others as a blues/jazz/rock trio in 1967 at Manchester University in the U.K., they cut several demo tracks for Mercury Records as Van Der Graaf Generator. The recordings yielded a single, “People You Were Going To,” in 1968 but the band broke up in mid-1969. Hammill decided on a solo career, but asked his former bandmates to help on his first album, the psychedelic The Aerosol Gray Machine, which was released in 1969 and credited to Van Der Graaf Generator. Three more albums, a shift to more jazz and classical influences, some touring and more musical chairs followed until VDGG imploded in 1973. The band reformed in 1975 and produced another three albums in less than 12 months with a different lineup. A fourth, The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, was released on September 2, 1977 under the shortened name Van Der Graaf, and it proved to be their most accessible, eschewing the dark art-rock of earlier albums for a more upbeat, pre-New Wave sound. A live album (Vital) followed in 1978, but VDG only toured sporadically for nearly two decades until reforming for a studio LP (Presents) in 2005. The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome is available at Amazon and VDGG will be in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault soon.

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