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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

4.05 | 938 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tull Freak 94
4 stars I bought this album from itunes about a month ago, my first Van der Graaf purchase. I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for, what with all the conflicting views I'd heard about the band in general. I'd also read that Peter Hammill's voice wasn't for everyone. But let me tell you, it works for me! His voice makes the tracks sound very dramatic (sometimes melodramatic!) and he can vary it from whispers (as in Darkness) to passionate soft singing (as in Refugees) to angst-filled wailings and shoutings (as in After the Flood). Also I was expecting the music to be more unmelodic and 'noisy' but boy was I wrong! The music may not be to everyone's taste but there is always a melody and though there are some cacophonous parts, they always add something to the concept of the song. One slight problem I have with this album is the lack of instrumental breaks. Peter Hammill's voice tends to dominate (not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I wish he'd shut up!) although if you listen out there is always complex and interesting music going on underneath his vocals. And sometimes there are some great non-vocal parts, especially during the lengthy closer After the Flood where they have more chance to stretch out the structure due to the 11-min length and also the last three minutes or so of White Hammer (which sounds like the world is coming to an end). David Jackson's sax definitely more than makes up for the lack of a full-time guitarist, sometimes it sounds quite monstrous, but never unlistenable. Hugh Banton's organ lines provide great accompaniment, never soloing but always audible. His style is more like a church organist than your average rock Hammond organist, more than likely due to the fact that he actually was a church organist for some time. This is their only album to feature a full-time bassist in Nic Potter, who seems to be an adept player. Guy Evans' drumming is the final piece of the puzzle and is very jazz-rock inspired and never ceasing (reminding me of Michael Giles on the first King Crimson album). The first track's name inspired me to listen to this in the dark which definitely allows you to really concentrate and I strongly urge you to listen to it in dark and quiet if you haven't already! All the tracks are very dark in subject matter and the music backs this up very well. The subject matter is also quite unusual (who else would have written a song about a medieval torture device?). Darkness is very atmospheric and the lyrics are superb (as they are throughout). Refugees is still dark but also exceptionally beautiful, delicate and provides a light of hope in an otherwise dark atmosphere. White Hammer is pretty much heavy metal and the screaming sax at the end amazingly evokes the screams of the tortured. I didn't think you could evoke that kind of emotion with music! Whatever Would Robert Have Said? is about Robert Van der Graaf himself and I think it is well above average unlike many other reviewers on this site seem to believe. Loving that acoustic guitar on this one! Only one song sticks out on this album and that is Out of My Book which is so average and unlike all the other songs, even though they start to sound a bit like Jethro Tull with the flute and acoustic guitar! After The Flood is a true epic and although it's about the Biblical Flood, I also think it is strangely prophetic as it implies a bigger and worse flood is coming, especially the lines 'This is the beginning of the end' and 'The ice is turning to water' (think about our current situation as regards global warming and then it might scare you too!). It's not consistent throughout though. This is definitely not an easy listen, but if you're not afraid to try something a bit different and challenging, or you have other VdGG album, you should definitely check this one out! I know I'll be getting more stuff by this amazing band.
Tull Freak 94 | 4/5 |


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