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

H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.31 | 1115 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SaltyJon
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars H to He, Who Am My Favorite VdGG

So, here it is, the album which I consider to be their best. H to He, Who Am the Only One has it all...the so-called "progressive rock anthem" of "Killer", a softer, melancholy piece in "House With No Door", collaboration with Fripp on "The Emperor in His War Room", and the truly epic, wild and crazy songs in "Lost", "Pioneers Over C" and, on the remastered version, "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus". I've only ever known the album with that track as the album closer, and I don't think it would sound right to me anymore to listen to it without it. I really love this band's sound, though. Some people have a problem with Hammill's voice, it seems. It is definitely an acquired taste, but once you're used to it his vocals are something incredible to behold. Beyond the vocals, the most important elements are definitely the sax and organ. Thankfully, we've got some incredible players for these, David Jackson and Hugh Banton. Jackson's sax always manages to cut right through me, with all his squealing and mad multi-saxing, and Hugh's organs are often truly demented. I love demented organ and squealing sax, so it's not too surprising that I really love this band. For me, the less interesting tracks are those which are more reserved...I love VdGG at their all-out most chaotic. None of the tracks on this one are weak, though. "House With No Door" is probably my least favorite track on the album, though it's got a lot of good stuff going for it. It's just a bit too tame for my preferred VdGG sound. The last two (three, in my case) tracks, though are probably some of the most essential VdGG tracks to listen to, for me. Ever since I first listened to the album, I was lost in the music from the opening dissonant flute/whatever lines of "Lost" on to the little bit of studio dialog captured at the end of "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus". These three are where the band really gets going to their chaotic best, and as I mentioned earlier I absolutely love the wilder side of VdGG. I realize that up until this point I've somehow neglected to mention Guy Evans and his drumming up until this point. His drumming is sometimes overlooked due to the power of the others, but he's a true force to be reckoned with as well. A lot of others have gone into detail about the vocals. I'll spare you all my poor attempt at that, because other reviewers have already done them good justice, though I will mention that my favorite vocals/vocal performances of the album are on "Pioneers Over C" and "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus". Those two tracks are my favorite EVERYTHING from the album, though, so it's not overly surprising. "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus" is possibly my favorite track from any of the "big" names in prog, and I'm continually amazed/saddened that it didn't make it to any of their albums.

For my particular listening habits, this is the band's true pinnacle, followed ever so closely by Pawn Hearts. This one is also what I would consider the best starting point for the band, as Pawn Hearts can be a bit of a tough listen if you don't know what to expect, while this album sort of eases you into their world with the first few tracks. I definitely recommend seeking out the 2005 reissue of the album, because of "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus". The other bonus track is an alternate version of "The Emperor in His War Room", and while it's interesting it's not more than that to me. Overall, this album definitely deserves "masterpiece" rating. Five stars from me.

SaltyJon | 5/5 |

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