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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 | 1481 ratings

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Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars First of all, I have always loved the title of this album, HE standing for helium. The lyrics of Peter Hammill are great here. His singing is not too shabby either. I don't understand why some have a problem with his vocal delivery; do they prefer cookie monster vocals instead? This was the last VDGG album that bassist Nic Potter played on for awhile(he would be a member of Van Der Graaf, without the Generator, later on). Organist Hugh Banton plays the bass on "House With No Door" and "Pioneers Over C", while Potter does the other three songs. Guest Robert Fripp does a guitar solo on "The Emperor In His War Room."

Of course, we cannot ignore the contributions of saxophonist/flautist David Jackson or drummer Guy Evans, either. I love the early studio albums of VDGG because they have things on them that could not be reproduced in a live setting. The bass, for example, was missing in concert after Potter left; and sometimes you hear both sax and flute at the same time. Not to mention Hammill's sometimes double-tracked vocals which makes his vocal delivery even more powerful. This was released in 1970 when the distinction between "progressive rock" and "heavy metal" was not yet clearly defined. The riffs on "Killer" and "Pioneers Over C" have a lot in common with the heavy rock of the time.

The album begins with "Killer", which is one of VDGG's best and most well known songs. This is simply classic prog at it's finest. Nice mix of organ, sax and piano. The acoustic guitar doesn't really stand out but the song would not be the same without it. Great drumming in this song. Cool harmony vocals in places. I love the modified organ solo in the middle; it almost sounds like a cello. There is some dissonant sax soloing here as well. "House With No Door" is the most mainstream sounding song. A great piano-based ballad. I like the echoed hi-hat. Sax and flute play in unison. Nice. Great instrumental middle section. Good piano playing at the end.

"The Emperor In His War Room" has good flute parts. Some harmony vocals. Love the jazz- rock vamp during Fripp's multi-tracked solo. Some cool call-and-response vocals. I really like the beginning of "Lost" which sounds equally jazzy and folky. Great modified organ which gets phased before a jazzy section. Some martial drumming in the middle. Jazzy sax later on. Modified organ comes back and the music does a start/stop thing with modified sax. I like how how the tempo slowly increases at the very end.

"Pioneers Over C" starts very spacey. Some tom-toms with a great organ riff. The lyrics begin: "We left the Earth in 1983..." Hendrix also had a song which mentioned 1983. Silly hippies, if they seen the state of the music industry in 1983 back then, they would have commited suicide. Love the riff on bass/sax/organ. This song changes a lot throughout. More harmony vocals here. Nice acoustic guitar with bells or something in the middle. Some tympani later on before some free jazz style sax playing. Then some fast classical piano and atmospheric organ. Goes back to the beginning parts near the end.

The sound and production is really good for an album from 1970. One of VDGG's best albums, but not quite a masterpiece. The only reason I wouldn't give this 5 stars is that some parts of "Lost" and "Pioneers" are not as good or timeless as the rest of the album. Nonetheless, this is an excellent album and every serious prog fan should at least hear it once in their lifetime. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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