Van Der Graaf Generator / The Aerosol Grey Machine 50th anniversary box

Van Der Graaf Generator / The Aerosol Grey Machine 50th anniversary reissue

Four-disc deluxe set featuring LP, 2CD, 7″ single & book

English progressive rock band Van Der Graaf Generator celebrate half a century of their debut album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, with a deluxe box set this month.

Formed in Manchester University in 1967, the VDGG initially featured Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar), with Chris Judge Smith (drums, vocals) and Nick Pearne (organ). The band signed to Mercury Records in May 1968 after the submission of a two-track demo tape. Nick Pearne departed the fold and Hammill and Smith relocated to London recruiting keyboard player Hugh Banton. By the Autumn of 1968 the band had signed a management contract with Tony Stratton-Smith and after recruiting drummer Guy Evans and bassist Keith Ellis into the group, were set to go.

Unreleased in the UK at the time, The Aerosol Grey Machine was originally meant to be a solo effort by singer Peter Hammill, but due to contractual obligations with Mercury Records, it was agreed to release it under the band’s moniker so that Hammill could be released from that contract and sign to Charisma.

This new edition of the album, which essentially invented prog rock, comes as large format four disc deluxe edition comprising a vinyl record, two CDs and a seven-inch single, along with a book and poster designed by Peter Hammill.

The vinyl – cut at Abbey Road studios – comes housed in the withdrawn UK gatefold sleeve, and the two-CD set features a host of previously unreleased and rare material, including a pair of demos from 1967, their BBC Top Gear session from 1968 (including the once-feared ‘lost’ version of ‘Octopus’) as well as a seven-inch single of ‘People You Were Going To’ and ‘Firebrand’. The book comes with many unseen photos as well as a new exclusive interview with Hammill.

The Aerosol Grey Machine is released 26 April 2019

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Van Der Graaf Generator

The Aerosol Gray Machine - 4-disc box set


The Aerosol Grey Machine 50th anniversary box set


Side one:

  • Afterwards
  • Orthentian Street (Parts 1 & 2)
  • Running Back
  • Into A Game

Side two:

  • Aerosol Grey Machine
  • Black Smoke Yen
  • Aquarian
  • Octopus
  • Necromancer

CD 1


  • Afterwards
  • Orthentian Street (Parts 1 & 2)
  • Running Back
  • Into A Game
  • Ferret And Featherbird
  • Aerosol Grey Machine
  • Black Smoke Yen
  • Aquarian
  • Giant Squid
  • Octopus
  • Necromancer

CD 2

  • Firebrand (1967 Demo) (Previously unreleased)
  • Sunshine (1967 Demo) (Previously unreleased)
  • People You Were Going To (BBC Session – November 1968)
  • Afterwards (BBC Session – November 1968)
  • Necromancer (BBC Session – November 1968)
  • Octopus (BBC Session – November 1968) (Previously Unreleased)
  • People You Were Going To (Single Version)
  • Firebrand (Single Version)



People You Were Going To



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Chris Marsh

I’m so glad to have company in my detestation of theses mixed releases. I hope that as more of us join in with not being prepared to be fleeced, the record companies are left holding vast, unsold stocks of these.

As someone else has mentioned, look at the Jethro Tull releases to see how it should be done.

Craig Fleming

Does the blame lie with the bands or the labels for the ever-growing number of expensive “trophy” reissues? Pity the music cannot be allowed to speak for itself through more modest CD-only releases alongside these mixed format deluxe sets which, I accept, will appeal to those who can justify the outlay. There seems to be an assumption that all baby boomers have unlimited resources when it comes to their music collections. Not so I’m afraid. Perhaps we should coin the phrase “prog rock poverty”!

Chris Marsh

I couldn’t agree more The record industry continues to fleece those who choose to be fleeced while ignoring those who kept them in business before this latest vinyl fad took hold.

Josh K

Put the 2 CDs onto 1 CD (it would fit) and ditch the vinyl and I’d buy it.

André Denis

One of my favorite bands and quite a nice debut album.
But I am NOT going to buy this for 3 unreleased demo tracks so far.
Why vinyl in combination with CD’s ?
Then this have to cost me 80 euro from amazon germany !
I have the CD version and the other repertoire version CD already.

Paul Mortimer

Aha, part of the Holy Trinity of my late-teen prog-loving self: VDGG, Yes & King Crimson!

A truly awesome, gothic and monolithic live band, I have many memories of seeing VDGG in their prime. The psychedelic free-jazz of Dave Jackson’s sax, Hugh Banton’s subterranean organ swells, Guy Evans’ thunderstorm drumming and THAT stupendous Hammill vocal ability.

Their later albums, especially H to He, Pawn Hearts and Godbluff are superior and the follow-up to A G M, The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other, was a step onwards, with such as Refugees, Darkness and After The Flood showed their range and power.

My twin bro bought all the VDGG albums originally, as we had a democratic agreement as to who’s bands were whose (LOL) if you get my drift. So I have forwarded this article to him….he is tempted!

Not Available

Vinyl OR CD for me, not both. And it sounds over-priced for the limited amount of additional material. Several bands, including this issue, could learn a good lesson from checking out the wonderful and reasonably priced Jethro Tull reissues.


You know what I’m going to write. Ditch the album, lower the price, and I’m in. As is, I’m out.

Ken Pummell

Yet another vinyl/cd set. Why? I would buy the cds on their own, but am not interested in the vinyl. I expect many would want the oposite. Mental