English prog rock bandVan Der Graaf‘s entire recorded work for Charisma Records is being released in a 17CD+3 x blu-ray box set. This package features remastered albums, bonus tracks, BBC sessions, rare video footage, new stereo remixes and 5.1 surround versions.
The studio albums features on The Charisma Years are as follows: The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (1970), H to He Who Am the Only One (1970), Pawn Hearts (1971), Godbluff (1975), Still Life (1976), World Record (1976) and The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome (1977).
The last four CDs in The Charisma Years (CD14 to CD17) are new stereo mixes of H to he Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff and Still Life. These have been remixed from the original multi-track tapes by Stephen W Tayler.
Two blu-rays also include these stereo mixes in hi-res and offer 5.1 surround sound mixes of all four of those albums. These have also been created by Stephen W Tayler.
Finally, this mammoth box concludes with another blu-ray with rare and unreleased video footage. This is apparently “all of the surviving Van Der Graaf Generator television footage and promotional films” and includes the band’s appearance on German TV’s Beat Club in 1970, a filmed appearance at The Bataclan in Paris in 1972 for the French TV show Pop Deux, the 1972 appearance on Pop Shop for RTBF Belgium, the promotional films for ‘Wondering’ and ‘Cat’s Eye’ and a 20 minute documentary with live footage shot by Austrian television at The Kohfidisch Open Air Festival, Austria in June 1978. The Charisma Years comes packaged with a 68-page book and is released on 3 September 2021, via UMC/Virgin.
BOTH ALBUMS IN HIGH RESOLUTION 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX / NEW STEREO MIX / ORIGINAL STEREO MIX
H to He Who Am the Only One
House with No Door
The Emperor in His War Room
Pioneers Over C
Lemmings (including Cog)
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers:
a) Eyewitness b) Pictures / Lighthouse c) Eyewitness d) SHM e) Presence of the Night f) Kosmos Tours g) (Custard’s) Last Stand h) The Clot Thickens i) Land’s End (Sineline) j) We Go now
Blu-ray #2: ‘Godbluff’ and ‘Still Life’BOTH ALBUMS IN HIGH RESOLUTION 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX / NEW STEREO MIX / ORIGINAL STEREO MIX
The Undercover Man
My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)
Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End
Blu-ray #3: The Video Vaults
Darkness (‘Beat Club’ – German TV 23 June 1970) – previously unreleased
Whatever Would Robert Have Said (‘Beat Club’ – German TV 23 June 1970) – previously unreleased
Lost (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Killer (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Octopus (‘Pop Deux’ Filmed at The Bataclan Theatre, Paris 18 March 1972 – Previously unreleased)
Theme One (‘Pop Shop’ Recorded 23 March 1972 for RTBF, Belgium) First official release.
A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (‘Pop Shop’ Recorded 23 March 1972 for RTBF, Belgium) First official release.
The Undercover Man (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Arrow (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Scorched Earth (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Sleepwalkers (Live in Charleroi Palais des Expos – 27 September 1975) First official release.
Wondering (Charisma promotional film 1976) Previously unreleased
These prog rock (more instrumental) bands tend to have a bigger following in non-English speaking countries like Europe and Japan because it is easier not to have to decipher the pesky lyrics continuously.
Good news about the remasters in the new box set (not going to comment on the reMIXes for the moment) is that ALL of the loudness wars damage of the 2005 Peter Hammill remasters has been undone, with pretty much perfect EQ to top it off. Excellent job!
Apple Music has a small glitch in The Sleepwalkers on the standalone reissue of Godbluff (the one that says ‘deluxe’) where at 14 seconds in there is small but disconcertingly obvious skip that is NOT present in the same reissue on Spotify and Qobuz. They’ll need to fix that.
"These prog rock (more instrumental) bands tend to have a bigger following in non-English speaking countries like Europe and Japan because it is easier not to have to decipher the pesky lyrics continuously."
Seriously? Are you dissing lyrics like the following!?
So you live in the bottom of the SEA
And you kill all that come NEAR you
But you are very LONELY
Because all the other fish FEAR you
(Van Der Graaf Generator is new to me - prog rock isn't my area of expertise - but after listening to samples on Amazon, I would get a stand-alone BluRay if it comes out. Generally avoid mammoth box sets.)
I bought the Pawn of Hearts as the CD/DVD edition.
The package is very nice, price is reasonable, and the surround mix is decent.
60's/70's prog is generally not to my tastes at all and this album turns out to be no different. I'll give it a few more listens to see if I can get it to grow on me. There is a lot going on so it may require repeat listens to take it all in.
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