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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.08 | 1128 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars As the second album and the first proper [or progressive] work by an extraordinary band on the way of finding its real outstanding essence, this is to VDGG's discography what Trespass is to Genesis, VDGG's labelmates in the newly found Charisma. I have given the latter a full rate here (which I maybe shouldn't have done, on second thought), but to me personally The Least We Can Do doesn't quite have the same aura of a classic criminally overshadowed by the albums that followed it. Nor is the artistic progress from the debut quite as impressive as in the case of Genesis, even if Aerosol Grey Machine was originally intended to be Peter Hammill's solo album. Further similarities with Trespass: both contain six tracks (3+3) and are produced by John Anthony. The Least... was recorded in December 1969 and was released in February 1970, whereas Trespass was recorded in the following summer and released in October.

The long title is adapted from the words "We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" by John Minton, a British painter. The apocalyptic theme -- captured also in the cover art -- refers mostly to the final track 'After the Flood', in which Hammill cites Albert Einstein, who was worried about the arms race of Americans and Russians. Quietly starting 'Darkness (11/11)' opens the album effectively. I've always wondered about the '11/11'; Wikipedia says it comes from being written on 11 November 1968. 'Refugees' stands out in the VDGG output as a romantic ballad that Hammill wrote for his ex-flatmates Mike and Susie. It's very accessible also for the vocals, and its slightly sentimental passion is impressive. The mysterious 'White Hammer' was inspired by Medieval witchcraft; genuine VDGG all the way! The whole A side is excellent, but the B side is more uneven.

The title 'Whatever Would Robert Have Said?' refers to Robert J. Van de Graaff, the inventor of the Van de Graaff generator that the group took their name from. This is the least succesful track on this album, I think. 'Out of My Book' is even more tender and "pretty" song than 'Refugees', perhaps a bit lame but beautiful nevertheless, especially for the flute of David Jackson. 'After the Flood' is doubtlessly the most progressive and strongest composition of the six. However, it's not among my favourite epics from VDGG. All in all, what was to follow is SO much more impressive that this deserves "only" four stars.

Matti | 4/5 |


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