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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Van Der Graaf Generator biography
Formed in 1967 in Manchester - Hiatus from 1972 to 1975 - The band split in 1978 and finally reunited in 2004

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR is an English eclectic progressive rock band with front man PETER HAMMILL from 'the classic period' that has proven be one of the most important bands of the progressive genre.

In England, 1967 Chris Judge SMITH formed 'VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR', but after his departure it was up to Peter HAMMILL (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Hugh BANTON (organ, bass on organ), David JACKSON (sax, flute) and Guy EVANS (drums) to become one of progressive rock most proliferate and unique bands as well as the first band to be signed to the Famous Charisma Label. The band was named after the scientific instrument 'the Van de Graaff generator', which is used for accumulating high voltage bolts. VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR (VdGG for short) is known for its extrovert dynamics (ranging from slow, calm & peaceful to fierce & heavy), its intense and emotional 'love it or hate it' vocals by Peter HAMMILL, its celebrated contribution to extended progressive songwriting and its combination of psychedelic, jazz, classical and avant-garde or even acid influences. Moreover, VdGG can be seen as the first band that was to combine the very progressive with the very personal, whereas other bands used to work with abstractions and fantasy. Peter HAMMILL has a talent for singing out intense graving, anger, panic and confusion whilst still being able to sing warm and caring in other passages. The band never really fitted in the symphonic progressive rock subgenre because of its widespread influences and unique style, though the band would have symphonic leanings throughout it's career. Unusual for the time was the focus on organ, drums and sax, whereas in the sixties the guitar and the bass guitar had played a major role.

The band had a leading role in the very first progressive phase releasing high-rated albums from 1970 to 1975. The strong conceptual 'H to He Who am the only one' (1970), the intense and highly innovative and daring 'Pawn Hearts' (1971), the bleak and ever evolving 'Godbluff' (1975) and the matured 'Still Life' (1976) are often cited as masterpieces of the progressive genre. Alongside VdGG there would be a very interesting solo-career for Peter HAMMILL who frequently invited members of the band to come and join on his sev...
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Pawn HeartsPawn Hearts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
Audio CD$5.14
$4.14 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$5.14
$9.87 (used)
H To He, Who Am The Only One (180 Gram Vinyl)H To He, Who Am The Only One (180 Gram Vinyl)
4 Men With Beards 2012
Vinyl$39.91
$22.00 (used)
GodbluffGodbluff
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$5.14
$5.62 (used)
H To He Who Am I The Only OneH To He Who Am I The Only One
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
Audio CD$5.14
$2.99 (used)
Do Not DisturbDo Not Disturb
Import
Esoteric Antenna 2016
Audio CD$10.44
$7.38 (used)
World RecordWorld Record
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Virgin / Charisma 2005
Audio CD$4.95
$6.55 (used)
Alt /  Van Der Graaf GeneratorAlt / Van Der Graaf Generator
Import
Antenna / Esoteric 2016
Audio CD$8.99
$7.44 (used)
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each OtherThe Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
Audio CD$6.03
$5.79 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Still Life UIGY-9681 SACD CD JAPAN 2015 NEW USD $86.01 Buy It Now
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Godbluff CD Japan 4 tracks Virgin Charisma VJD-28084 obi USD $14.05 [2 bids]
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Still Life CD Japan Virgin Charisma VJD-28085 obi USD $14.99 [1 bids]
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR World Record CD Japan Virgin Charisma VJD-28086 obi USD $14.99 [1 bids]
Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time (Royal Festival Hall) (NEW CD) USD $18.34 Buy It Now
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Van Der Graaf Generator - Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios [CD New] USD $15.20 Buy It Now
Van Der Graaf Generator - Do Not Disturb (NEW CD) USD $15.09 Buy It Now
Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate Vinyl LP Van Der Graaf Generator USD $17.44 [0 bids]
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Godbluff VJCP-68761 CD JAPAN 2005 NEW USD $67.07 Buy It Now
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Pawn Hearts (UK 1971 1st Press - Scroll Label) by Van Der Graaf Generator USD $107.39 Buy It Now
Van Der Graaf Generator Vital Live (Remastered/Expanded) (2CD) (CD) USD $11.80 Buy It Now
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Still Life UICY-77002 CD JAPAN 2015 USD $52.76 Buy It Now
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Van Der Graaf Generator Do Not Disturb (Ltd) (Ogv) vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $62.09 Buy It Now 2h 29m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Godbluff UICY-77001 CD JAPAN 2015 NEW USD $110.27 Buy It Now 4h 24m
Van der Graaf Generator - Still Life [New SACD] Japanese Mini-Lp Sleeve, Shm CD, USD $61.52 Buy It Now 4h 28m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR H To He Who Am The Only One 180-gram VINYL LP Sealed USD $25.79 Buy It Now 5h 32m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR The Least We Can Do Is Wave UICY-76998 CD JAPAN 2015 NEW USD $75.17 Buy It Now 6h 3m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - AT THE BBC: 1968-1977 NEW CD USD $14.73 Buy It Now 7h 50m
Van Der Graaf Generator H To He Who Am 2013 Japan Mini LP SHM CD W/Obi Bonus USD $39.80 Buy It Now 11h
Peter Hammill - The Thin Man Sings Ballads (CD 2002) VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR USD $8.04 Buy It Now 11h 12m
PETER HAMMILL principle 1981 UK ARTICLE / clipping (Van Der Graaf Generator) USD $13.36 Buy It Now 11h 38m
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Van Der Graaf Generator, Time Vaults, Demi Monde Records, 003, Prog. USD $33.00 Buy It Now 15h 3m
Van Der Graaf Generator, World Record, 1976 Charisma Records, Germany, 9124001 USD $54.00 Buy It Now 15h 34m
Van Der Graaf Generator, Repeat Performance, 1980 Charisma UK, BG.3 USD $22.00 Buy It Now 15h 44m
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Van Der Graaf Generator Pawn Hearts MINI LP CD JAPAN USD $19.99 Buy It Now 21h 52m
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PETER HAMMILL Fool's Mate Japan CD OBI '88 1st press Van Der Graaf Generator USD $7.99 [0 bids]
22h 28m
PETER HAMMILL In Camera Japan CD OBI '88 1st press Van Der Graaf Generator USD $7.99 [0 bids]
22h 33m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other Japan CD '88 USD $7.99 [1 bids]
22h 55m
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22h 56m
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22h 58m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Still Life Japan CD OBI '88 1st press VJD-28085 USD $8.99 [1 bids]
23h
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR World Record Japan CD OBI '88 1st press VJD-28086 USD $7.99 [1 bids]
23h
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome Japan CD OBI '88 USD $7.99 [1 bids]
23h 3m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Vital Live Japan 2CDs OBI '89 1st press VJD-25023/4 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
23h 5m
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Maida Vale 1994 BBC Sessions original CD Peter Hammill USD $14.99 Buy It Now 23h 33m
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - GOODBLUFF - REMASTERED CD USD $10.50 Buy It Now 23h 52m
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR '68 - '71 (best of/greatest hits) (1st uk) LP EX/VG CS 2 USD $23.88 Buy It Now 1 day
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - STILL LIFE 1976 LP Psych Rock RARE USD $9.99 [0 bids]
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - THE LEAST WE CAN DO.. 1970 UK LP Psych Rock RARE USD $9.99 [0 bids]
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - Original Radio One Session CD 1994 BOJCD008 USD $20.12 [0 bids]
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Quiet Zone album 1977 UK Press ADVERT 10x7 inches USD $10.67 Buy It Now 2 days
PETER HAMMILL Skin NM ENIGMA Original Prog LP w/inserts Van Der Graaf Generator USD $14.95 Buy It Now 2 days
Van Der Graaf Generator 68-71 (Sixty Eight To Sev... UK vinyl LP record USD $38.86 Buy It Now 2 days
Van Der Graaf Generator The Least We Can Do Is Wave To ... UK CD (CDLP) USD $36.90 Buy It Now 2 days
World Record Van Der Graaf Generator CD album (CDLP) UK VJCP-68763 EMI 2005 USD $36.90 Buy It Now 2 days
Godbluff Van Der Graaf Generator UK CD album (CDLP) VJCP-68761 EMI 2005 USD $36.90 Buy It Now 2 days

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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 560 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.05 | 919 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
1970
4.31 | 1447 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.42 | 1921 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.48 | 1810 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.29 | 1332 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.83 | 679 ratings
World Record
1976
3.64 | 582 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.63 | 461 ratings
Present
2005
3.51 | 439 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.41 | 436 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.48 | 207 ratings
ALT
2012
3.61 | 130 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 246 ratings
Vital
1978
4.09 | 125 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.06 | 168 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.65 | 77 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
3.53 | 38 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.85 | 46 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.43 | 33 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.12 | 102 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
4.00 | 9 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.14 | 26 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.15 | 7 ratings
Live Broadcasts - Collector's Rarities
2006
3.97 | 53 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
4.52 | 33 ratings
Live at Metropolis Studios
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 32 ratings
68-71
1972
4.33 | 3 ratings
Repeat Performance
1972
3.33 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.50 | 2 ratings
Rock Heavies
1978
2.32 | 54 ratings
Time Vaults
1982
3.45 | 60 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.41 | 44 ratings
Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
1986
2.15 | 38 ratings
Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans)
1988
3.31 | 51 ratings
I Prophesy Disaster
1993
3.91 | 64 ratings
The Box
2000
3.49 | 18 ratings
An Introduction
2000
4.50 | 2 ratings
First Generation / Godbluff
2012

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.56 | 17 ratings
People You Were Going To / Firebrand
1969
4.08 | 20 ratings
Afterwards / Necromancer
1969
4.58 | 24 ratings
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
1970
3.64 | 28 ratings
Theme One / W
1972
3.81 | 16 ratings
Masks Part 1 / Masks Part 2
1976
4.47 | 17 ratings
Wondering / Meurglys III
1976
4.11 | 18 ratings
Cat's Eye
1977
1.69 | 17 ratings
The Masters
1998
3.00 | 5 ratings
Highly Strung
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 919 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 147

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is the second studio album of one of the most original British progressive rock bands of the 70's, Van Der Graaf Generator, and was released in 1970. Although it can be considered the second official studio album of the band, it's, in a certain way, the first proper album of the group. This happened because their previous debut studio album, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' should have been released as a solo album of Peter Hammill, but due to a deal with the record company. It was released under the name of Van Der Graaf Generator.

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' was recorded at Trident studios in London in December of 1969 and all songs were written by Hammill with the exception of 'Out Of My Book' which was written by Hammill and David Jackson, and Hugh Banton wrote the cello parts on 'Refugees'.

The line up of the album is Peter Hammill (vocals, acoustic guitar and piano on 'Refugees'), Hugh Banton (backing vocals, piano and organ), Nick Potter (bass guitar and electric guitar), Guy Evans (drums and percussion) and David Jackson (backing vocals and flute, tenor and alto saxophones).

The title of the album was based on a phrase taken from John Minton who was a British painter and an illustrator of landscapes, portraits, and figures, as well a theatrical designer: 'We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other'.

With this album, the band established their style and it sounds more impressive than the first one, probably caused by Jackson, who joined in 1969. The songs have more progressive influences and the overall sound is excellent. Drum section is very good and Banton organ is also awesome. Guitar parts are almost simple but this doesn't matter because piano, organ and sax replace it. Very strange and fantastic are sax parts. The way Jackson plays the instrument is innovative. Like in all other albums, the lyrics are wonderful. Despite Hammill has a very peculiar and strange voice, he can use it in an awesome way. The changes of tone from loud to silent, from high to low makes his vocals intensive.

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' has six tracks. The first track 'Darkness (11/11)' is a great opener for the album and is also one of the best songs. This is a song dominated by the continued presence of the keyboards of Banton and by a very good and strong bass line. It's the song where we can hear, for the first time, the incredible and unique sound of the saxophones of Jackson. This is a great track. The second track 'Refugees' is the most sentimental moment on the album. This is a very beautiful song, very melodic and peaceful with nice flute by Jackson. It's a song that reminds me very much 'Running Back', the third track of their debut album 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. This is one of the most beautiful songs written by Hammill. The third track 'White Hammer' is an intense dark song about the torture and the crimes of the Inquisition in the fifteenth century. It's a song dominated by powerful saxophone and great keyboard works with good dark lyrics. The music in the end is very aggressive, dissonant and disturbing, providing us a dramatic final. The fourth track 'Whatever Would Robert Have Said?' is a good song with several different musical passages and with different rhythms throughout the song. We can consider it one of the most progressive songs of the album. However, it isn't one of my favourite songs on the album and isn't as good as all the previous songs. The fifth track 'Out Of My Book' is the smallest song on the album. It's a very different song, a light, melodic and beautiful ballad, which we even can say that it's unusually melodic for Van Der Graaf Generator. This song reminds me, in some moments, the second studio album of Genesis, 'Trespass'. Like the previous song I think it isn't as good as the other songs of the album. The sixth track 'After The Flood' is the longest song of the album. It's the epic song on the album and I think it's also its highlight point. This is a song progressively and gradually very well developed with different musical passages, some more aggressive and some more melodic. This is a perfect end for this amazing album.

Conclusion: 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is without any doubt the first great studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator. It has everything what made of this band be so great. It has the complex, dark and beautiful lyrics of Hammill and also his beautiful, original and unique voice, the fantastic keyboard sound of Banton, the incredible sound of the saxophones and flute of Jackson, the original drumming of Evans and the strong bass line of Potter. Like 'Trespass' from Genesis, 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is an album almost perfect. Comparing these two albums, we may say that both are near of the perfection and both show the type of music that both bands wanted to do in the future. For me, there's only a slight difference between both albums. The music on 'Trespass' is more simple, pure and na've, while the music on 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' is more complex, mature and adult.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Aerosol Grey Machine by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.26 | 560 ratings

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The Aerosol Grey Machine
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 146

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 while their members were studying at Manchester University in U.K. The initial trio was comprised by Peter Hammill (vocals and guitars), Nick Pearne (organ) and Chris Judge Smith (drums and wind instruments). In the late of 1969 the band split. But, before that moment, Pearne had already been replaced by Hugh Banton. At the end of 1969 a new version of Van Der Graaf Generator was formed during the recording of an album that was originally intended to be a Peter Hammill's solo release, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'.

However, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' wasn't released as a solo Hammill's album and became as the debut studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in September of 1969. All songs were written and composed by Hammill except 'Black Smoke Yen' which was written and composed by Banton, Keith Ellis and Guy Evans. So, the line up of this album is Peter Hammill (vocals and acoustic guitar), Hugh Banton (backing vocals, piano, organ and percussion), Keith Ellis (bass), Guy Evans (drums and percussion), Jeff Peach (flute) and Chris Judge Smith (vocals on 'Firebrand').

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' always tended to be a little bit an underrated album, as is the case with most debut albums by any progressive rock band. But, especially in this case, and we mustn't forget that we are talking about of one of the most creative bands ever, the real problem is that there's hardly anything groundbreaking on here. So, yeah, this is all really true but if we pay more attention to it, after we took quite a few listens to it, maybe we can appreciate some of its charm. Lyrically, the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's style is already here and somehow all the songs can really rule.

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' has nine tracks. The first track 'Afterwards' is a great song to open this peculiar Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's a very simple and na've song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill in his entire, long and fantastic musical career. It's, at my taste, one of the best tracks on this album. The second song 'Orthenthian St, Parts 1 and 2' is a nicely constructed song and is also very interesting. Once more the voice of Hammill is great and I particularly like the way how Evans plays drums on this song. This is also one of my favourite tracks on the album. The third track 'Running Back' is a very peaceful acoustic song with a very simple structure that reminds me very much 'Refugees', the second track of their second studio album 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'. However, this song is much simpler and less interesting than the other. The fourth track 'Into A Game' is also a good song. It's interesting to note that on this song, for the first time, we can feel some energy in the music of the album. This is a song with some musical complexity, with a very interesting bass line, and once more, I like particularly the way how Evans plays drums on this song. The fifth track, the title track, 'Aerosol Grey Machine' is the smallest on the album. It isn't properly a song but is really a joke of the band. The sixth track 'Blake Smoke' is the second smallest song of the album and is an instrumental song. It's a simple song which is a kind of an introduction to the next song. In my opinion, these two songs are unnecessary and could have been perfectly avoided. The seventh track 'Aquarian' is a song with some psychedelic influences and with fantastic and beautiful vocals of Hammill. This is another song with a very interesting bass and drum lines and also with an interesting chorus. It's also another of my favourite songs on the album. The eighth track 'Necromancer' is a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and once more it has a good and melodic chorus. I think this is another interesting song. The ninth track 'Octopus' is the most difficult and complex on the album. This is, in my humble opinion, the most typical band's song of this album and also the most eclectic and progressive in its musical structure. It's the most representative song of what would become the future sound of Van Der Graaf Generator.

Conclusion: I can't agree with those who don't consider this album a Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's true that it was intended to be the first Hammill's solo album and that lacks to it the necessary presence of David Jackson on flute and saxophones. However, this album has, for me, some of the main characteristics of the group. It has the complex, dark and beautiful lyrics of Hammill as also his beautiful, original and unique voice, it has the presence of the fantastic and unique keyboard sound of Banton, it has the original drumming of Evans and it has also the sound of the bass, sadly missing in most of their future works. I think we can compare this album with the debut album of Genesis, 'From Genesis To Revelation' released in the same year. Despite 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' isn't a great album, it's, in my opinion, better than Genesis' album, because we can see on it some progressiveness and a road to follow in their future musical path. So, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' is a good, na've and a unique album, in their career, very simple and very acoustic. I think it has a single place to be in the musical career of this unique and original progressive rock group.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Trisector by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.51 | 439 ratings

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Trisector
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The last time D. Jackson left the band in early 1977 was almost simultaneosly with H. Banton, forcing P. Hammill and G. Evans to reinvent the group, adding new musicians and coming up with a sound quite different from all previous VdGG incarnations. This time, however, following the Present Tour of 2007, Banton remained in the band so they continued as a trio. And quite unusual trio at that, consisting of drums, organ and piano (with occassional guitar). Although Banton's organ was always a "trademark" of the VdGG sound, Jackson's reeds were equally important, so the question many fans (including myself) asked was how this new trio configuration would cope with this deficiency. The first time I heard "Trisector" I did not like it. I badly missed Jackson's mad saxophones and gentle flutes, while somewhat modernized sound did not draw my particular attention. So, I shelved this CD for many years.

Recently I decided to revisit some old VdGG albums and especially those I have not reviewed so far. For this purpose I listened again to this album three times in a row (a pun not intended) to see what I might have missed earlier. Quite a lot, I can say now!

As if to prove their coherence following the loss of a key member and to address the problem signified by the album title, all songs but one are credited to the whole trio. First, there is an odd couple of songs that invoke "punkish" attitude in using heavy and dirty riffs of electric guitar and standard rock beat. The opener instrumental "Hurlyburly" is kind of passable track with its guitar tremoloes, sounding like the Stranglers of the mid-1980s attempting to play early 1960s surf. Would probably fit better somewhere else on the album and not as the opening one. "Drop Dead" is much better and is perhaps the first VdGG pop song so far, the one to which you could easily dance to and singalong, thanks to its hard down to earth 4/4 beat. With punklike angst Hammill, who is no stranger to this kind of style, yells "drop dead" while elaborating on the retreat of masculinity and its obsolecence in face of the coming feminine power.

Then, there is a killer duo of songs that are in a way connected with the album title and artwork and that tackle another band's favourite topic - science. Both "Interference Patterns" and "(We Are) Not Here" contain some typical VdGG musical madness of complex and loud interplay between organ, piano and guitar, and these are probably the moments when absence of Jackson's saxes is felt most strongly. From "wantonly quantum" musings about the nature of reality that is illusory and made of particles and waves to the disturbing thought that we as beings are not really here, these two songs epitomize the "progressiveness" of this band to tackle unusual, disturbing and difficult topics. Still, "Interference Patterns" is somehow deluded by the preceding surf-like instrumental and would better sound as a strong opener, but retaining the introductory machinery noise that also conclude the album after the final track.

On the more slow tempo front there is excellent "The Final Reel" with irresistable melody and beautiful organ providing dark mood for the story about a doomed couple "facing their decline". Then follows a slightly less convincing but nonetheless fine tune "Lifetime" (the one penned by Hammill only) whose more personal and emotional lyrics are nicely backed with yet another tremolo-like effect on electric guitar.

Excellent quality of compositions continue with "Only In A Whisper", a jazzy number featuring only drums, piano and bass guitar (played by Banton). Yet, I don't like Hammill's vocals when he seems to struggle with getting some higher notes. "All That Before" returns with more dynamical and aggressive sound telling, in a slightly humoristic way, about an elderly man suffering from memory loss in everyday living while surrounded with modern mobile communication technology.

And finally, the epic-long 12 minute "Over the Hill" does not impress me much. It is too long and boring at times. As if trying to reconnect with their past, this track contains elements that sound similarly to some parts of "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" or "Pawn Hearts", but I could easily skip it because it brings nothing new to the album. No, it is not bad song by any means, it just isn't my cup of tea in this context.

So, in retrospect this was surprisingly good album given that it was the first one recorded by the trio line-up. And that trio was to continue performing and recording more wonderful and enjoyable music on the albums to come.

 Real Time by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 2007
4.06 | 168 ratings

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Real Time
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The classic VdGG quartet line-up (Banton-Evans-Hammill-Jackson) never got to release a live album during their peak in the 1970s. Instead, we got "Vital", which represented a quite different group (VdG) with different sound (exit organ and saxes, enter violin and electric guitars, especially bass). So, almost 30 years after their break-up, the quartet finally releases a live recording of their entire opening night of the tour promoting their comeback studio effort "Present". An exciting and nostalgic event for sure, the one their fans were impatiently waiting for all these years, and in the hindsight, given that the band would soon to be truncated to a trio, this was probably "the moment" in history to be preserved and cherished, perhaps never to be repeated again.

Performance is excellent, no doubt, despite the fact that they probably sounded much better later on as the tour rolled on. Yet, there is a noticeable weakness in Hammill's voice, due to recent surgery, particularly on older material such as "Refugees" and "Killer" where he struggles unsuccessfully to reach higher notes. Also, Jaxon's sax sounds as if loosing compass on the latter song and seems to improvise too much throughout the album. But, these are minor complaints. The album as a whole shows the band in a strong instrumental mood while Hammill often engaged in a emotions-filled dialogue with the audience during breaks.

The setlist includes well-known songs from their best studio albums (the focus seems to be on "Godbluff" and "Pawn Hearts") from the past, as well as two highlights taken off "Present" album - "Every Bloody Emperor" and "Nutter Alert", the former already being established as a Graaf classic song, in par with their best moments from the past. And "In the Black Room" finally gets to be recorded and released on a VdGG album, having appeared only on the 1973 Hammill's solo record "Chameleon in the Shadow of Night", but being recorded by full band (including Nic Potter on bass!) for a post-Pawn Hearts VdGG album that never was. In short, a historic recording of the "classic quartet" line-up, responsible for creating some of the best, the darkest, the wildest and the most daring music of the entire "prog" scene and beyond!

 Vital by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 1978
3.79 | 246 ratings

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Vital
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Vital" is indeed a strange beast within the Van der Graaf Generator canon. Very much a love it/hate it effort, it marked the end of the band in their classic 1970s period. But, what everyone seems to agree about is that this double vinyl live record presents the band in their most aggressive, brutal and extreme offering.

Long time ago I had an oppportunity to borrow this LP and listen to it a few times but was not much impressed. I even thought at times that it was absolutely horrible sound-wise, except for wonderful "Mirror Images", which was far superior as performed here than in the studio version on Peter Hammill's "Ph7" solo album, not least due to fantastic Nick Potter's bass playing. Perhaps it was the murky production, bad mixing or whatever, but the sound was pretty irritating. And although I had already been acquainted with many punk rock classics, this VdG version of it did not make much sense to me.

Fast forward to the digital millenial era when VdGG not only re-formed in their classic line-up, but when their back catalogue saw digital remastering courtesy of Virgin Records, who had acquired the rights to old Charisma label. This 2005 double-disc release of "Vital" sounds far more superior and cleaner than the original 1978 vinyl record, thanks to Peter Hammil and the band who supervised digital remastering of the old tapes produced by drummer Guy Evans. Unfortunately, sax wizard Dave Jackson (who was briefly back to the foil following his departure in early 1977) is still barely audible on several tracks, but as he explains in the liner notes, this was due to technical problem during original live recording process when Jackson's entire audio track was deleted, so Evans tried to pick up the traces of saxophone from other available tracks. Nonetheless, the sound is amazingly heavy, with Potter's fuzzy bass up front in the mix (which I like), often at the expense of other players (which is not very good). Besides him, Hammill shouts and screams and slashes electric guitar with his imperfect playing in a way "MC5 meets Sex Pistols", while violin virtuoso Graham Smith often provides lead melodic lines instead of absent keyboards and buried saxes, particularly in older songs. Newcomer Charles Dickie's cello provides some nice backing to several tracks but his credited keyboards are very hard to detect.

Actually, when considered in a broader respect of Peter Hammill's entire career, "Vital" now seems much more consistent with his experiment-minded spirit and his urge to make "pop music" in rather unconventional ways. At the time when this album was recorded (January 1978) many other prog rock bands (with which VdGG were often lumped together rather supeficially) became caricatures of themselves, either losing ideas entirely or going pop-mainstream-arena. Hammill and VdG embraced punk and new wave instead, using these trends to facilitate their own expressions and ideas and to offer them to new and diverse audiences. In a way, Hammill was even considered an early progenitor of British punk with his "Nadir's Big Chance" solo LP of 1975, and according to some sources he even coined the term "punk rock", at least in UK, two years before rock journalists adopted it during the 1977 Pistols craze. In the early 1980s Hammill formed the K-Group with VdG rhythm section Evans/Potter and John Ellis, ex-guitarist of the British punk rock band the Vibrators, whose 1977 album "Pure Mania" should have been considered one of the classics of the genre. This excellent line-up backed Hammill on his several solo LPs and live gigs providing an uptempo post-punk new wave sound. Shortly before that in the early 1980, Hammill appeared as a guest (along with Robert Fripp!) on the Stranglers concert dedicated to their imprisoned vocalist Hugh Cornwell, singing "Tank" from their acclaimed (and probably most downright punkish) "Black and White" album. Taking all this into account, "Vital" seems more natural product of the late 1970s when genres and styles blended and influenced each other back and forth.

Now, back to the CD. Practically all songs, apart from some older material, are killer versions of their studio counterparts (either VdG or Hammill solo albums). Medley of "Lighthouse Keepers/Sleepwalkers" and "Urban/Killer" does not work well, but "Pioneers Over C" instead is excellent even if prolonged to 17 minutes. Roughly half of the album ("Ship of Fools", "Mirror Images", "Sci-Finance", "Door", "Urban" and "Nadir's Big Chance") consists of tracks that are premiered on a VdGG album, so for this reason only every VdGG collector should own it. And since these are performed in a "most extreme" way, "Vital" is also an album that every punk rocker should have in his/her prog collection!

 Present by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.63 | 461 ratings

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Present
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

2 stars It was nice to hear VdGG reforming in 2005 and giving us a new 2-CD set, Present, with the classic lineup, Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton and David Jackson. Unfortunately this album really left me cold. Now I don't expect it to be on the level of H to He Who Am the Only One or Pawn Hearts, even Godbluff, besides how can you? Those were very difficult to top by any standard. But at least still make the music well worth hearing. I realize this was 2005, not 1971, so I expect a bit of an updated approach, which I do get here. Except for "Every Bloody Emperor", with some really scathing lyrics on politics (recording during the middle of the George W. Bush administration in the States), the rest of the album really felt like they simply didn't have it in them. The second disc seems to get the most maligned as apparently VdGG doesn't do to well as an instrumental outfit (although they were responsible for a killer rendition of George Martin's "Theme One", which appeared as a single, but this was back in their early '70s glory days). That same reaction gets applied to ALT, the instrumental companion to A Grounding in Numbers. Nothing on that second disc to Present leaves an impression on me so I can see why reactions to their instrumental stuff isn't so hot. But to me I didn't find them any worse than the vocal numbers on the first disc.

To me, I really think Van der Graaf Generator could have done better, given their track record. I know they didn't have to be just like Pawn Hearts, nor do I expect anyone else to think that, but they could do better than what they did on Present (I hadn't hear the others they released since, though).

 A Grounding In Numbers by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 436 ratings

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A Grounding In Numbers
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Orpheus-keys

3 stars A Grounding in Numbers marks a slight change of direction for VDGG and this change of direction is evident in both the lyrical content and the musical changes occuring throughout. It is their second album as a trio after saxophonist David Jackson left the group and the absence of saxophone on this album was a very important change of direction for the group. Guitar parts are more prominent than ever here and the production is far less bulky due to no brass instruments clogging up the mix.

'Your Time Starts Now' is an archetypal Hammill ballad full of Hugh Banton's droning organs, Guy Evans' tranquil dirge-esque drum fills and wistful displays of lyricism. For a progressive rock group to start their brand new album with a ballad is, generally speaking; a bold move, - nonetheless it works well here. 'Mathematics' is a short song where Banton's organ swirls are the dominating factor, much like the 'Still Life' VDGG-period. 'Highly Strung' is a fast-paced bolshy rocker which wouldn't be totally out of place on a Hammill solo album ala Nadir's Big Chance, - the lyrics deal with the stream of consciousness one undergoes whilst experiencing a panic attack and the accompanying music is also very busy and cluttered. 'Red Baron' is a nice little ambient piece which allows Banton and Evans to take centre-stage for a little while. Temporary relief from the harshness of VDGG rockers is, however, very short-lived, as it is followed by 'Buncho' which is probably my least favourite on the album due to it sounding awfully cluttered and directionless. 'Snake Oil' is a massive improvement, clocking in at around six-minutes. The second half of this track is among some of the finest moments in VDGG history, showcasing dynamic syncopated rhythms in multiple odd-time signature and tempo- changes, - not totally disimmilar to that of 'Man-Erg' from Pawn Hearts. 'Splink' is another ambient instrumental piece with a fairly strong opening melody; however quickly it vanishes into nothingness. 'Embarassing Kid' is another bolshy Hammill-led rocker with tons of aggression and focus. 'Medusa' is a nice ballad which feels underworked as the opening three minutes have a lot of potential and could have easily been developed into a longer piece. 'Mr Sands' is my personal favourite on the album, - for it never becomes stale and oozes with strong riffs and syncopated rhythms throughout. 'Smoke' and '5533' seem to submerge into one another, - the former being a three-minute quasi-80s disco track with odd vocal melodies and whispered lyrics whereas the latter is perhaps slightly more futuristic, fitting with the esoteric space-age theme of the lyrics. 'All over the Place' finishes the album off and it's one of the longest tracks on the record. It starts nicely with gentle harpsichord layering before dwindling away into a fairly mediocre mid-section. Thankfully the track redeems itself with a fairly stonking organ riff which closes the album nicely with a punch.

Overall, a varied and eclectic mix of VDGG's talents, - however none of them are truly embraced to the fullest leaving the listener perhaps a tad disatisfied. One of their most jumbled releases to date which is full of great ideas but seldom do they truly come into fruition. An album that VDGG purists will very much enjoy but newcomers will more than likely be uninterested.

 The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 582 ratings

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The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 108

After Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd, in my humble opinion, Van Der Graaf Generator is with Camel, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and Rush, one of the best 70's progressive groups and is also one of the bands that most influenced the movement of the progressive rock music. Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 at Manchester University, but soon they were settled in London. They quickly become a celebrated progressive rock band with a very dedicated cult following. However, they never achieved the fame of many of their compatriot bands.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is the eighth studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1977. It's an album that marks several, severe and profound changes into the group and into their music too. In the first place, the band shortened their name to Van Der Graaf, which wasn't a usual thing. In the second place, at the end of 1976, following their previous studio album 'World Record' released in 1976, first Hugh Banton and later David Jackson departed from the band. In the third place, the previous bass player of the group Nic Potter returned to the band, supposedly to replace Banton. In the fourth place, the violinist Graham Smith formerly member of the progressive folk band String Driven Thing was called to replace Jackson. Finally, the last but not the least change, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' was Van Der Graaf Generator's last studio album before their 2005 reunion. Thanks God it happened.

'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Peter Hammill except the sixth track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' which was written by Hammill and Smith. The album is clearly divided into two distinct parts, 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome'. The first part, 'The Quiet Zone' has four tracks. The first track 'Lizard Play' is a song with some very peculiar rhythm and with a very interesting violin work. This is a good song to open the album and telling us that the band's sound has changed. The second track 'The Habit Of The Broken Heart' is also a good track and is essentially an acoustic song commanded by acoustic guitar. The sound of the organ is very subtle, quiet and nice. The third track 'The Siren Song' is a song very calm and beautiful conducted by piano and violin. It's a very melancholic and acoustic song with deep vocals and a nice violin work. This is a song where the sound came direct from the past keeping the same dark musical atmosphere from their previous albums. Somehow, it seems to me a kind of a reminiscent of 'Pilgrims'. The fourth track 'Last Frame' is another song, and like the previous track, also makes a return to the past. It's my favourite track on 'The Quiet Zone' side of the album. It has a great Smith's violin work with some acoustic parts, and is also a song with a very dark musical atmosphere which makes of it a truly fantastic track to close the first part of the album. The second part, 'The Pleasure Dome' has five tracks. The first track 'The Wave' which opens the second part of the album is a very calm, melancholic and a beautiful song in the same vein of Van Der Graaf Generator's songs with good lyrics. It's very well sung by Hammill, and it's also conducted by piano and violin. This is the shortest track on the album, very melodious and tranquil. The second track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' is my favourite song on the album. It has a fantastic violin work which fully demonstrates the technical virtuosity of Smith with his violin, which raises this song to the perfection of a masterpiece. This is a very frantic song very heavy on violin and bass and with a kind of an excessive vocal approach by Hammill. By itself, this track deserves the purchase of the album. The third track 'The Sphinx In The Face' is the dynamic rocker song on the album representing in a way the Van Der Graaf Generator's heaviest moment on it. The fourth track 'Chemical World' is another good song on the album, with good working on violin by Smith and it has also a good classic guitar melody. This is a very dark song with a moody sound that helps to give to the album a very unique feel. The fifth track 'The Sphinx Returns' is a reprise of 'The Sphinx In The Face' and concludes and closes the album in a very interesting way.

Conclusion: After take a look at various reviews of the album, it's interesting to note that there are different points of views. Not so much about the quality of the album, in general they're favourable, but about the favourite side of the album and their best songs. For me, 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is a very good album of Van Der Graaf Generator but it's also a strange and an exotic album. It's musically divided into two parts and has a different sound mainly due to the changes into their line up. Despite 'The Quiet Zone' and 'The Pleasure Dome' be two distinct parts, the album is very balanced in its quality level. My favourite tracks on the album are 'The Siren Song', 'Last Frame', 'The Wave' and especially 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)'. In relation to the changes into their line up, it's clearly evident the lack of the keyboards of Banton and the saxophones and flute of Jackson. However, both Smith and Potter made a terrific job. So, for me, it remains a great work of the group, especially in that historical and critical context.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Do Not Disturb by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.61 | 130 ratings

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Do Not Disturb
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Is this VDGG's final act? I would be very surprised if this isn't their last studio album, especially with how reflective this album is and the lyrics seem to point to this. I think for me that's part of my faults with this record as it comes across almost like a dirge overall with the vocals being the focus much of the time. Some have said this is more like a Peter Hammill solo album which I can appreciate. On the final track "Go" Peter sings "Time to leave, close the door" and it ends with these final words "It's time to let go" and I have to say this is a sad record, it really is. Of course even the album's title and cover indicate retirement.

David Jackson is not here so they're a trio like on the last album. They have added a lot of complex passages despite how reflective this often is which is why I picked this up in the first place, I was curious. "Present" was their first comeback album and by far my favourite of this last period of the band. I also have to say that there's a line in the song "Alfa Berlina" that for me sums up why so many bands from the golden era fail to make anything close to what they did when they were young and those words are "But when I think about the way it was we were recklessly alive." That fire and passion of youth and just starting out can't be bottled or bought and it's rare, really rare to see in an older band.

"Aloft" and the next track are my two favourites. This starts out as one of those reflective songs as fragile vocals join the relaxed guitar and cymbal melody a minute in. A change though after 2 1/2 minutes as it picks up with organ, accordion, drums and vocals. A third theme arrives that's nastier and more passionate. That second theme is back at 4 1/2 minutes before the opening theme returns to end it at 6 1/2 minutes. An inventive tune. "Alfa Berlina" is experimental to start with lots of samples. Spoken vocals in atmosphere will take over before we get the main melody before 1 1/2 minutes. The lyrics are so meaningful. A change 4 minutes in as it turns experimental and sparse again and the spoken vocals return like earlier. Back to the main melody a minute later. "Room 1210" is mellow with piano, cymbals and reserved vocals. Accordion and drums join in as well. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes with a brighter mood. It continues to change though as it calms down after 3 1/2 minutes.

"Forever Falling" is one I can't get into. A catchy beat to start as the vocals join in. The vocals are faster paced 2 minutes in as is the punchy instrumental work. Back to that opening theme before 4 minutes to the end. "Shikata Ga Nai" is almost haunting, kind of exotic too while a chamber music vibe is felt in this dark piece. "(Oh No! I Must Have Said)Yes" is one I can't get into with that abrasive sound with heavy drums. It changes though to a surprising jazzy motif before 3 minutes but then this abrasive guitar starts to come and go over top that I don't like. "Brought To Book" is mellow with a beat, piano and reserved vocals. Organ and drums arrive as it picks up around 2 minutes, vocals too. Back to the opening theme a minute later then it kicks in to a higher gear but the tempo will continue to shift.

"Almost The Words" is a sad dirge-like tune with sad vocals, piano, percussion and atmosphere. A change at 4 1/2 minutes as fast paced keys and drums take over as multi-vocals come in over top. The organ kicks in before 6 1/2 minutes with prominent bass and drums. I want more of this last part because I feel that's what's missing here and these guys can deliver but I think it's more about the farewell. And speaking of farewell the final song is "Go" which opens with spacey organ and sounds before these fragile vocals join in around a minute.

A sad and reflective album that doesn't scratch that itch for me but it comes across as being a must-have considering the circumstances. For the music 3 stars for lyrics 4 stars.

 The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 919 ratings

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The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As the second album and the first proper [or progressive] work by an extraordinary band on the way of finding its real outstanding essence, this is to VDGG's discography what Trespass is to Genesis, VDGG's labelmates in the newly found Charisma. I have given the latter a full rate here (which I maybe shouldn't have done, on second thought), but to me personally The Least We Can Do doesn't quite have the same aura of a classic criminally overshadowed by the albums that followed it. Nor is the artistic progress from the debut quite as impressive as in the case of Genesis, even if Aerosol Grey Machine was originally intended to be Peter Hammill's solo album. Further similarities with Trespass: both contain six tracks (3+3) and are produced by John Anthony. The Least... was recorded in December 1969 and was released in February 1970, whereas Trespass was recorded in the following summer and released in October.

The long title is adapted from the words "We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" by John Minton, a British painter. The apocalyptic theme -- captured also in the cover art -- refers mostly to the final track 'After the Flood', in which Hammill cites Albert Einstein, who was worried about the arms race of Americans and Russians. Quietly starting 'Darkness (11/11)' opens the album effectively. I've always wondered about the '11/11'; Wikipedia says it comes from being written on 11 November 1968. 'Refugees' stands out in the VDGG output as a romantic ballad that Hammill wrote for his ex-flatmates Mike and Susie. It's very accessible also for the vocals, and its slightly sentimental passion is impressive. The mysterious 'White Hammer' was inspired by Medieval witchcraft; genuine VDGG all the way! The whole A side is excellent, but the B side is more uneven.

The title 'Whatever Would Robert Have Said?' refers to Robert J. Van de Graaff, the inventor of the Van de Graaff generator that the group took their name from. This is the least succesful track on this album, I think. 'Out of My Book' is even more tender and "pretty" song than 'Refugees', perhaps a bit lame but beautiful nevertheless, especially for the flute of David Jackson. 'After the Flood' is doubtlessly the most progressive and strongest composition of the six. However, it's not among my favourite epics from VDGG. All in all, what was to follow is SO much more impressive that this deserves "only" four stars.

Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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