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Van Der Graaf Generator - Vital CD (album) cover

VITAL

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

3.72 | 187 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars This is the only live album that his seminal group ever released and it was their farewell shows them under an unusual line-up. This version of the group has all the participans of the unsettling but still interesting TQZ/TPD , plus a cellist(!?!? An excellent initiative! I wonder why they waited so long) and the return as a guest of Jackson. The remastered version corrects a mistake done with the original Cd release as it adds the two tracks previously omitted for space/length reasons. But although not operating miracles , again the remastering job profitsa nuber of tracks , ven takes a rough and abrupt edges to some songs to render them easer to get "accustomed" to without tampering with their rawness/integrity . So be assured that the legendary raw ower is fully reproduced ( and also the full one night Marquee concert) , only the images lacking.

One of the interesting/intriguing aspect of this album is how they adapted their oldermaterial to fit the new line-up especially wth the two string instruments to pick up the void left by the absence of Banton's keyboards. Well I can tell you that this is partially successful even giving goosebumps at the start of the Lighthouse Keepers suite , but unfortunately not daring to do it in its entirity and sliping in one of my least fave track Sleepwalkers. But I am going a little quick here, as before that, the Generator-less VDG had given us a rawer version of Ship Of Fools (much better than the studio version IMHO) and then really charmed us with Still Life with a delighting opening section , hammill singing out to Smith's violin and being stunningly underlined by Dickie's cello. Clearly all the older tracks were well adapted as they gain a new life with the arrangements for cello-violin pair, but unortunately also for Hammill's rather medium guitar playing. Last Frame and Mirror Images (extended for the former from the previous album and a new track for the latter) and passes smoothly, but cleary the next hihlight is the Plague track already discussed above, bu unfortunately (for me anyway) dipping all to soon in Sleepwalkers with Guest Jackson finally appearing and the track returning to the final notes of Plague.

The second disc (it was originally a double vinyl but only released as such in Japan) starts with another delightful treat in an extended Pioneers Over C, with rather odd choices such as the use of a crunching guitar, the violin-cello duo intervening later. Potter finally getting to replay his bass lines, and violin then sax improvs , but also the crunching guitar riffs makes this version different (but not better) and more brutal. Sci-Finance is a rather sub-par track and it is easy to see why it got the axe from the selection , Door somehow escaping that very same fate by being an original track not yet available elsewhere, both being very raw and no remastering job being able to change much to the difficult sound recording that night. New track Urban is next and incorporates Killer , really showing the band cooking up towards the end of the show and as an encore , the title track from one of Hammill's solo album makes the end of the second disc a bit rough on my nerves.

The most interest I found in this album I the adaptation of the classic tracks , the rest of the stuff only confirmng the direction Hammill had takenfrom his Nadir solo album. The remastering job having done what as feasable , the sound being sometimes over-saturated from the over-energetic VDG. Let me prefer the Generator version

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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