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Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He, Who Am The Only One CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1509 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 64

In my humble opinion, Van Der Graaf Generator is with Gentle Giant and King Crimson, probably, one of the three most creative, original and progressive bands that ever existed. With the exception of King Crimson, which always had an impressive number of fans, Van Der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant, had only a very small but very faithful group of supporters, probably due to the originality and the difficulty of their music.

This is my fifth review of a Van Der Graaf Generator's album. The others are their fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh studio albums 'Pawn Hearts', 'Godbluff', 'Still Life' and 'World Record' which were released in 1971, 1975 and the last two in 1976, respectively. 'H To He, Who Am The Only One' is their third studio album and was released in 1970.

The line up of the album is Peter Hammill (lead vocals, acoustic guitar and piano), Hugh Banton (vocals, Hammond and Farfisa organs, piano, oscillator and bass guitar), David Jackson (vocals, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones and flute), Guy Evans (drums, percussion and tympani) and Nic Potter (bass guitar). The album has also the presence on guitar of Robert Fripp of King Crimson, as a guest musician. Potter left the band mid-way through the recording sessions. After it, the group decided to carry on without a new bass guitarist, with Banton alternating bass guitar and organ bass pedals. Therefore, the Hammill, Banton, Jackson and Evans quartet is considered the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's line up, and were they, that recorded and released their following great masterpieces.

'H To He, Who Am The Only One' has five tracks. The first track 'Killer' written by Hammill, Chris Judge Smith and Banton is a catchy and beautiful dark song. The saxophones of Jackson and the organ of Banton are present continuously and are very well supported by a brilliant rhythm section by Potter and Evans. This is one of my favourite songs from the band. It portrays the usual hunting musical atmosphere that this band is able to create with their music. The second track 'House With No Door' written by Hammill and Jackson is probably the most calm and beautiful ballad composed by the band and it's also a rather depressing track, lyrically speaking. It's a very delicate and dark song and is also one of my favourite songs from the group. It can show us how great this group can be, even in their quietest musical moments. The third track 'The Emperor In His Room' written by Hammill is a track divided into two parts: 'The Emperor' and 'The Room'. This is another very dark song, which is about the consequences of living a life of war and death and describes the act of a tyrant with torture and the dying of the emperor, with some very violent lyrics. It's the fear and aggression that speaks here. This is another brilliant piece of music with great lyrics and with a magnificent flute work by Jackson. Here we can listen to the guitar work of the master Robert Fripp who plays guitar as a guest as he also did on their next album 'Pawn Hearts'. The fourth track 'Lost' was written by Hammill and is also divided into two parts: 'The Dance In Sand And sea' and 'The Dance In The Frost'. This is another brilliant track. It's a song about loneliness, lost, love and madness, also with very good lyrics, which is a Hammill's traditional trademark. There is a lot of musical variety in this piece of music. 'Lost' is one of the most depressing pieces of music written by this brilliant artist called Peter Hammill. The fifth track 'Pioneers Over C' written by Hammill and Jackson also contains the usual hypnotizing sax and keyboard musical lines. 'C' is the scientific name of the speed of light, and this song is a sort of a musical interpretation of faster than light travel and its consequences on the travellers on their voyages. Musically, it's one of the strongest songs on the album, which sounds great, and finishes perfectly well, this wonderful masterpiece. 'Pioneers Over C' represents a mature and complex end to a superb collection of songs.

Conclusion: In my humble opinion, Van Der Graaf Generator have five studio masterpieces, 'H To He, Who Am The Only One', 'Pawn Hearts', 'Godbluff', 'Still Life' and 'World Record'. Unfortunately, of all these five masterpieces 'H To He, Who Am The Only One' is the only one that I own a copy only a few years ago. Due to the high quality of the others, I had never paid much attention to it and I always thought that it probably wouldn't be at the same quality level as the other four. I was truly wrong and I'm deeply ashamed of it. But now, I'm finally doing justice to this another great album released by this so fantastic and unique band. To my taste, this is probably the most beautiful of all their albums. 'H To He, Who Am The Only One' was probably released too early for the progressive standards, but it remains, as unique as it was then. It has so many parts of Van Der Graaf Generator's music that have set the benchmarks for many bands to came next. I really think that every musical progressive collection should have, at least, three Van Der Graaf Generator's albums, 'H To He, Who Am The Only One', 'Pawn Hearts' and 'Godbluff'.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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