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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

4.06 | 941 ratings

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4 stars A truly polarising group is Van De Graaf Generator. The intensely personal lyrics of Peter Hammill coupled by his fiercely dramatic vocal style (which to the unitiated will sound surprisingly like that of David Bowie) has unnerved more than one potential listener, and one can only imagine how this music would have gone down among the hippie crowds that VDGG first started playing to. Despite Hammill's larger than life presence, it's very wrong to think of VDGG as being a one man show. The group was also powered by the great sax-playing of David Jackson, keyboardist Hugh Banton and Guy Evans' relatively unnoticed drumming (note that guitar rarely came into the picture).

This album was VDGG's second and saw a drastic shift in style from the hurried opener Aerosol Grey Machine. Also featuring the bass playing of Nic Potter, The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other contains my single favourite VDGG song. I can't think of words to describe this sci-fi masterpiece that is Refugees. It's heartbreakingly beautiful, achingly sad, and incredibly dense with sweeping organ, cello, brass and choir parts, and a tale from Hammill who is scornful and mournful in turn. "There we shall spend the final days of our lives, tell the same old stories", he sings of his beautiful lost tribe. And I really don't know what to say. I confesss I rarely listen to this album without putting this song on at least thrice.

The rest of the album is only just very good, which is why, despite containing my favourite VDGG moment, it doesn't rank among my three favourite albums by this group. After The Flood is probably the first great VDGG style dark epic with loads of shifts in dynamics and a general ferentic sax and organ fuelled helplessness to it. Darkness, which enjoys a slow build up before taking life with a psychedelic solo and is concluded by some fat sax from Jackson, and White Hammer (which has a really ominous coda with some real "heavy-metal" distorted saxophone work) are fine in their own right, but would be surpassed by similar styled material on subsequent albums H To He Who Am the Only One and Pawn Hearts.

Whatever Would Robert Have Said, is a strange mixture of Hammill narrative and acid-rock freak outs, bur Out Of My Book, on the other hand, is one of the most light-hearted pieces VDGG put out (well certainly after Aerosol Grey Machine). This acoustic piece with a beautiful underused chorus and some delectable flute from Jackson certainly offers some much-needed respite from the otherwise unrelenting darkness that pervades most of the album.

A fine album, with many imposing moments, and one glorious, glorious sci-fi masterpiece, The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other is the first landmark VDGG recording ... but there would be at least three more to come! ... 82% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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