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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

4.07 | 1085 ratings

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Greg W
3 stars Well I thought it was about time I weighed in on my thoughts about VdGG. This great band could be defined into two distinctly, different eras. The 1st era consisted of The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other, H to He Who Am The Only One and Pawn Hearts. These three albums would have the usual Hammill's distinctive, theatrical, maniacal flair, but instead of the dark shadows of the more mundane discussed in the latter lps, this era would be marked with songs of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and sheer gothic horror. This era would be more dynamic musically speaking and while the lyrical content was definitely inferior and less mature than the 2nd era, this is definitely the stronger and more promising VdGG.

The 1st lp...The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other is probably their most positive as well as their weakest of their eariliest efforts. This lp's inconsistancy drags it down to merely just good statis. At one moment we are treated to sheer brilliance and then must suffer through material that just gets plain silly. Hammill's intensity is there in his voice, but his lyrics are lacking somewhat in this 1st effort. By the by...I am totally aware of The Gray Aerosol Machine, but I regard this one as their 1st true album.

The album opens up well enough with the tune Darkness. One of the better lyrically written tunes on this effort. The eerie, ambient music sets the atmosphere for the rest of the work here. It lets the listener know this is not your typical easy listening pop. This is dark prog and be prepared to take a hellish joy ride. The creepy keyboard, combined with a sinister saxaphone sound will make your skin crawl...but in a good way.

Almost unexpectantly the listener is treated to a lush, beautifully sculpted tune that sounds as if it came from the heavens itself. Hammill sings in such a beautiful, wondrous voice it almost shocks the listener at 1st. Refugees is another song rich with the Hammillian trademark, filled with beautiful landscapes and imagery. The problem with this tune is the lack of dynamics and the music that at 1st captivates the listener with such a pretty, evocative sound eventually starts to bore the listener as we wait impatiently for the song to move into another direction. Very dissapointing by the end of it, but glad the song is through.

White Hammer starts out uninteresting and never seems to move in a direction that is very appealling to the listener. The song just sounds uninspired....not good for a tune that reaches over 8 minutes long. To top it off, the lyrics are rather cheesy. This song would be an utter disaster if it wasn't for one factor....the amazing conclusion! The song seems to end when suddenly this shocking, hair raising bass booms out of nowhere and then the song builds into this cacophony of madness that could frighten away small children leaving them huddling under their beds wondering what horror has possessed their stereo system! All great fun as far as I'm concerned!!

The next song, Whatever Would Have Robert Said is probably the least appreciated and under-rated tune on this lp. I am not altogether sure what these lyrics are about, but it is a highly dynamic, and highly stylistic tune. This tune is almost catchy for a prog tune and I love the soaring chorus...if you can call it such a thing....Hammill was always a man who didn't believe in repeating himself. He and repetitive choruses didn't mix oil and water. This song just simply rocks!

Out of My Book is another well written, pretty tune. What? Two positive songs on a VdGG album...unheard of! This tune probably has the best and easily understood lyrics on this whole lp. While Hammill was one to ever dwell in absolute darkness, this song is proof he could write beautiful, heartfelt lyrics when he so chose to. This song is just a page out of simple lessons in one's life. A stark contrast to what would follow.....

After The Flood....a precursor to the gothic horror of Pawn Hearts! A simply chilling and brilliant tune. Anyone who doesn't get goosebumps listening to this tune must lack emotions to begin with! The music is definitely the most inspired and freaky of the tunes on this lp. A truly classic VdGG tune served with all the hellish side dishes a listener could ever wish for. Just when you think you have heard everything there is to hear on this song it goes into this mad carnivalesk blast of music..a la A Plague of Light House Keepers..only to soften up some, leaving the listener trying to catch his breath when suddenly Hammill's voice reaches utter gothic madness with....TOTAL ANNIHILATION...sending the listener into complete ecstasy!!....better than most horror movies I say!!

In the end an album with some great tunes and some not so great. Still a great effort for their 1st try.

Greg W | 3/5 |


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