Van der Graaf Generator
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (116 Reviews)
September 26th, 2016 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is a very different album due to a several different changes. But it’s still a great album especially in that historical and critical context.

“The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome” is the eighth studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1977. The line up on the album is Peter Hammill, David Jackson, Graham Smith, Nic Potter and Guy Evans.


Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 at Manchester University, but was settled in London. They quickly become a celebrated progressive rock band with a very dedicated cult following. Between 1969 and 1971, the group released four studio albums “The Aerosol Grey Machine”, “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other”, “H To He, Who Am The Only One” and “Pawn Hearts”, before the band split due to financial problems. The group reunited in 1975 and only in two years, 1975 and 1976, they released three new studio albums “Godbluff”, “Still Life” and “World Record”.

However, in between 1976 and 1977 the group went through a number of radical transformations. Their next studio album “The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome” marks many and profound changes into the group and into their music too. The band shortened their name to Van Der Graaf which isn’t a common thing in any group. At the end of 1976, following their previous studio album “World Record” released in the same year, first Hugh Banton and later David Jackson, departed from the band, which makes a crack into their usual line up. The previous bass player of the group Nic Potter returned to the band, supposedly to replace Banton. Graham Smith formerly member of the progressive folk band String Driven Thing was called to replace Jackson. “The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome” was Van Der Graaf Generator’s last studio album before their reunion, which was only concretized in 2005. Thanks God it happened.

This line up, the one and only studio album released by it, was again a conceptual album in character, and even if it was just one LP, it actually came out as if it were two separate albums, “The Quiet Zone” on one side and “The Pleasure Dome” on the other side. It even featured two separate album’s covers, two “front sleeves” instead of a front one and a back one. The songs are also significantly shorter, so short, in fact, that it becomes possible to fit in four of them on each side, plus a mini-reprise of “Sphinx In The Face” at the end, which wasn’t really usual in the band. So, with all the line up changes, the band’s name changes, the new concept principle, and the shortened tracks, where do we go with the album" However and despite all this changes who considerably modified the usual and traditional band’s sound, the group was able to maintain on this work the mainly traditional landmarks of the group, both, lyrically and musically.

“The Quiet Zone” has four tracks. “Lizard Play” is a good song to open the album and tells us that the band’s sound has changed. It’s a song with some very peculiar rhythm and with a very interesting violin work. “The Habit Of The Broken Heart” is essentially an acoustic song commanded by acoustic guitar and where the sound of the organ is very subtle, quiet and nice. “The Siren Song” is a melancholic and acoustic song very calm and beautiful with deep vocals, led by piano and violin. “Last Frame” has a great violin work with some acoustic parts and is my favourite track on this side of the album. It’s a fantastic track to close the first part of the album. “The Siren Song” and “Last Frame” came direct from the past, keeping the same dark musical atmosphere from their previous albums. Somehow, “Last Frame” seems a reminiscent of “Pilgrims”. “The Pleasure Dome” has five tracks. “The Wave” is a calm, melancholic and beautiful song very well sung and conducted by piano and violin. It has good lyrics in the traditional vein of the band. “Cat’s Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)” has a fantastic violin work which shows the technical virtuosity of Smith. It’s a frantic song very heavy on violin and bass and with a kind of an excessive vocal approach of Hammill, which raises the perfection of a masterpiece. “The Sphinx In The Face” is the dynamic rocker that represents, in a way, the band’s heaviest moment on the album. “Chemical World” is a very dark song with a moody sound that helps to give to the album a very unique feel. It’s another good song with great work on violin and a good classical guitar melody. “The Sphinx Returns” is a reprise of “The Sphinx In The Face” and was able to conclude the album in an interesting way.


Conclusion: “The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome” is a very good album of Van Der Graaf Generator but it’s also a strange and an exotic album. It’s musically divided into two parts and has a different sound due to the changes into their line up. However and despite “The Quiet Zone” and “The Pleasure Dome” be two distinct parts of music, the album is very balanced in its quality level. My favourite tracks on the album are “The Siren Song”, “Last Frame”, “The Wave” and especially “Cat’s Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)”. In relation to the changes into their line up, it’s clearly evident the lack of the keyboards of Banton and the saxophones and flute of Jackson. However both, Smith and Potter, made a terrific job on it. So, for me, it remains another nice work of the group, especially in that historical and critical context.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (84)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As happened in the last week, finally it comes also time to review for the first time an album of another of my favourites prog bands. Like Gentle Giant, I also think they are one of the best and one of the most influential bands in prog rock music ever.

And as with Gentle Giant, I also decided to start with this album, because there isn't any review of it here on Sputnik, and surely, like "Interview", it also deserves one. And especially in this case, because this VDGG album is really a unique case in the band's biography and I'm pretty sure that many people didn't paid much attention to it, unfortunatelly.

As usual I expect your comments.



smaugman
September 26th 2016


5022 Comments


paragraph 3 and 4 are a bit excessive, and apart from some spelling errors here and there it's a nice review


e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, smaugman.

TheIntruder
September 26th 2016


418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice to see this reviewed here. This is really a strange album from the band. A unique album as you said. Anyway I also think it's a good album. Nice review too. Have a pos.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Intruder. This is really a unique and original album from them.

CaliggyJack
September 26th 2016


2831 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

SUNUHVUHBICH



I wanted to review this album but never got the chance and I knew someone was going to do it if I kept twiddling my thumbs over it. SURPRISE SURPRISE.



Excellent review. Pos'd but fuck you cuz im jealous >:

Mythodea
September 26th 2016


4273 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Reads more like a track by track review, but it's a good one nonetheless.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, man. But as you know, the water never runs two times in the same place. I'm very happy because you are jealous.

Have a nice day, buddy.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, Mythodea.

Jethro42
September 26th 2016


15947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As you say in your review, it's unusual that a band would split their name in two like they did here, but it's somewhat understandable if we consider the departure of Banton and Jackson. The adding of a violin player to cover the absence of these two regular musicians changes the usual sound of Van Der Graaf Generator to the point that the album sounds more like a Hammill's solo album.

Lizard Play - 4/5

The Habit of the Broken Heart - 3.5/5

The Siren Song - 4.5/5

Last Frame - 4/5

The Wave - 4/5

Cat's Eye / Yellow Fever - 4/5

The Sphinx in the Face - 4.5/5

Chemical World - 2.5/5

The Sphynx Returns -

Album is better than I thought, and so I have to bump it up to a 4.

Nice write-up, buddy. Pos'd

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2016


18865 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

really like this album



kind of a bummer their reunion albums have been meh

Jethro42
September 26th 2016


15947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Present is really enjoyable, if we don't include the improvisations disc, although there are a few interesting passages in a few of them. Disc one is full of wins. Both Trisector and A Grounding in Numbers contain some good tracks as well. They play more safely, but still...

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Fripp. I'm very glad you also like this album. In general it's almost a forgettable album by them.

Thanks dude.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Jethro. I can see that you changed your rating. I'm very happy because somehow my review was a little bit responsible for it, I think.

But for me, it's the same thing with "Interview". I rated it with 3.5 due to the coherence with their other albums.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

About their "new" albums, sincerely I never pay much attention to them, despite I have a couple of them. You know, write so many reviews let me few time to listen to music nowadays. Anyway, I must have to get more time to listen many other albums.

Thanks guys.





TheIntruder
September 26th 2016


418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Present is really enjoyable, if we don't include the improvisations disc"

Agreed. I really like it. You need to check it e21.

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really hope so. But as I wrote, I need to have some time to do that. Anyway thanks for your recommendation.

Cheers, buddy.

TheIntruder
September 26th 2016


418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No problem. By the way, do you know that VDGG have a new album, Do Not Disturb? I have not checked it yet. But I intend to do so, soon as I can.

Cheers too, buddy.

Jethro42
September 26th 2016


15947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

''Yeah, Jethro. I can see that you changed your rating. I'm very happy because somehow my review was a little bit responsible for it, I think.''

Yeah you're right, when I read a review about a band/album I like very much (It's mostly the case with the reviews you cover), I invariably relisten to the covered album in order to make a new contact with it and maybe even a new impression about it. After listening carefully to the album, I sometimes re-read the review to see if I agree either more or less with it.

About your actual review, I find it reads more like a 4 than a 3.5 imo ;)

e210013
September 26th 2016


2507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I saw it just today. I really hope that it be good, as we all expect, the great lovers of the band, of course.

By the way, I became a little bit surprised and amazed with all the fans of VDGG, here on Sputnik. Sincerelly I was really surprised. VDDG isn't a band for everyone. Their music isn't nothing accessible and many people dislike Hammill's voice. But fortunately, I became very happy with it, because I'm really a big fan of them.

Thanks for your concern in to inform me, about the new album from the band.





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