Van der Graaf Generator - An Epidemic of Father Xmas

Van der Graaf Generator - An Epidemic of Father Xmas

An Epidemic of Father Christmasses (Top Gear session, first broadcast 29 December 1971).

Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriter Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records. They did not experience much commercial success in the UK, but became popular in Italy during the 1970s. In 2005 the band reformed, and are still active. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links to Peel

V is for..

V is for... Van De Graaff Generator

Peel's admiration for Van Der Graaf Generator is clear from the fact that they did eight sessions for his shows between 1968 and 1977, as well as two In Concert shows in 1970 and 1971. In their early days, band members visited the DJ at his London flat, leading him to give them a namecheck in a November 1968 column for Disc and Music Echo;

... Van der Graaf Generator: They seem to have disappeared briefly. Two of them (perhaps there are only two) came and sang songs for an hour on the floor of Peel Acres some months ago and made a week a lot easier. If they ever reappear, pay attention. ...[1]

Peel also continued to play tracks by them long after he had stopped featuring most other progressive era groups, and also included sessions and tracks by VDGG frontman Peter Hammill after the band split up. It is likely that he was attracted to the band's dissonant, often harsh-sounding music due to its radical difference from mainstream prog rock. Peel was also intrigued by the singing of Hammill, who had what the DJ called an "extreme voice".

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None.


Eight sessions. Official releases:

- #1 on "The Aerosol Grey Machine (50th Anniversary Limited Edition) " (2019, Esoteric Recordings)

- #2 and tracks from #1, #4 and #8 on "The Box" (4xCD, 2000, Virgin).

​​​​​​- #5, #6, #7 on "Maida Vale / Maida Vale BBC Sessions " (CD, 1994 / 1998, Band Of Joy / Strange Fruit). #7 also on the 2005 Virgin reissue of "World Record" as bonus tracks.

- Tracks from all sessions except #3 on "After The Flood: At The BBC 1968-1977 " (2xCD, 2015, Universal).

1. Recorded 1968-11-18. First broadcast: 29 December 1968. Repeated: 09 February 1969.

  • People You Were Going To / Afterwards / Necromancer / Octopus

2. Recorded 1970-01-27. First broadcast: 07 February 1970.

  • Darkness / After The Flood

3. Recorded 1970-10-12. First broadcast: 24 October 1970.

  • Lost / Killer

4. Recorded 1971-12-14. First broadcast: 29 December 1971. Repeated: 15 February 1972.

  • An Epidemic Of Father Christmases / Lemmings / Refugees

5. Recorded 1975-07-03. First broadcast: 10 July 1975.

  • Scorched Earth / Sleepwalkers

6. Recorded 1976-04-01. First broadcast: 20 April 1976.

  • Still Life / La Rossa

7. Recorded 1976-11-11. First broadcast: 22 November 1976

  • When She Comes / Masks

8. Recorded 1977-10-24. First broadcast: 02 November 1977

  • (Fragments Of) A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers/Sleepwalker's End / Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running) / The Sphinx In The Face


  • 02 August 1970 Sunday Concert show, recording date and venue details unknown - No commercial release.
  1. Killer
  2. Whatever Would Robert Have Said
  3. Squid1-Squid2-Octopus
  1. Man-Erg
  2. W
  3. Killer
  4. Theme One/March Of The Dambusters

Other Shows Played

(The following list was compiled only from the database of this site and is far from complete. Please add more information if known.)

  • 28 March 1970: Refugees (LP - The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other) Charisma
  • 11 April 1970: Darkness (LP - The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other) Charisma
  • 30 May 1970: Refugees (LP – The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other) Charisma
  • 09 September 1980: Refugees (unknown release but possibly the 1980 UK rerelease of Repeat Performance) Charisma
  • 02 June 1981: Refugees (LP - The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other) Charisma

See Also

External Links

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