"'What kind of music do you play?' They never had an easy answer. This was some of it." Peter Hammill, as ever, being sincerely non-committal about style and influence, yet managing to be securely on target at the same time. Second Generation is set up as the second half of an overview of Van Der Graaf Generator, but it definitely has a bias; three of the four cuts comprising Godbluff are included here, while Vital is completely ignored, right down to the exclusion of the studio version of "Ship of Fools" (later included on I Prophesy Disaster). VDGG fans will find reasons to quibble, certainly -- the track selections are sometimes questionable, and the lack of proper remastering shows in the unfortunately muddy tone of many of the tracks ("Siren Song" and "Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever/Running" fare better than most, with a certain degree of crispness and a nice tight bass). The exclusion of "Vital" and "Ship of Fools" is also a definite minus. However, as something of an introduction to VDGG, this, with First Generation, serves fairly well, though the set has been superseded, to some extent, by A Introduction (2000) and Box (2000).
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AllMusic Review by Steven McDonald