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Van Der Graaf Generator - Vital CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.82 | 279 ratings

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Man With Hat
3 stars Van Der Graaf Generator live is something wonderful. Unfortunately, finding it isn't the easiest of tasks. Up until this point an offical live album had not been released. At last though, VDGG (or if you want to be technical VDG) fans who never got a chance to see them live, could at least "live" the experience. First and foremost, an interesting line-up is presented, with guitar, bass, violin, and cello. For me it gives them a great sound. Granted, it can't totally replace Jackson's sax (which thankfully makes a "Guest" appearance here), but it really gives them a full sound. Needless to say, the playing on Vital is impeccable, with every musician given his chance to shine.

The first thing I notice about this album is the hard rockingness of many of the songs. Tracks like Ship Of Fools, Pioneers Over C, and Killer are played much more aggressively then their studio counterparts. Also, with the inclusion of these new sounds many of the songs sound fresh and new, which I always like to see/hear in a live album. The inclusion of previously unreleased material is very much appreciated. Urban and Sci-Fience are especially strong tracks, that I would have loved to have a studio version of. The second most obvious things about this record is the sound quality. Now, I have the 2005 remastered CD, and I can firmly say that I love the sound of this live album, even though it is not perfect. It is not muddied or overly raw, but it still keeps the feel of a live setting. (As a side note: I have heard other VDGG live tracks which the sound quality was absolutly atrocious and did not do justice to such wonderful music. For that fact I was reluctant to buy this CD at first, but luckily they really picked it up for this one).

Now on to the bad, which is limited. First about the sound: The drums, voice, and guitar really steal the show. There are times where it is really hard to hear the cello and especially the sax, and some of that comes from it being drowned out by the other instruments. That is also my major complaint about this album. However, a track or two seemed to be cut strangely, but it doesn't affect the song. But, the crowd noise is kept to a minimum, as are sections of applause.

All in all, this is a fine live album which shows this phase of Van Der Graff off in its full glory. While there are a few problems here and there with the sound, there is enough pros in this album to have it be worthy of owning. For fans of the band, this is an essential purchase (espcially since live material is rare). For casual prog fans it is a nice addition for your collection. 3.5 stars.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |


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