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Van Der Graaf Generator - The Aerosol Grey Machine CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

3.28 | 623 ratings

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Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I got myself the Repertoire reissue version of this debut album of a very interesting group. I think it is slightly unbalanced from the perspective of quality, having some very good moments paired up with some poorer tracks. Fragile "Afterwards" and hilarious "Necromancer" were known to me from their trashy BBC recordings before I listened to this album, and I admit I like those radio versions more. I felt them pulsing with life more vitally than these more sterile sounding studio recordings. "Orthenthian St. (Part I & II)" has a folky sound with acoustic guitars and pianos, resembling little the sound of the first long player of Genesis. Melodies are pretty, and the fine song is edited as a one CD track to the Repertoire's CD. The shifting of the parts has a weird fade out, creating a mysterious moment to the song, which then moves to a bit more troubled directions predicting the pessimisms dominating the group's forthcoming career. "Running Back" continues the acoustic sound and melancholic moods presented in previous track, being a quite good song with some flute solos in the middle. The duller moments are crystallized for me on songs "Into a Game", which has a bit more aggressive punch in the music, and somehow quite unpleasant piano, maybe being bit out of tune. Anyway, there are many features in the song's structure, which I believe were evolved further in the longer compositions on the following records. "Aerosol Grey Machine" is short joke song little in vein of Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Benny The Bouncer", being a really terrible in my opinion, making me think why to title the whole album with such piece? "Black Smoke Yen" is another short one with jumpy rhythm for the dance of piano and bass guitar, morphing to "Aquarian". This song starts to sound much more like the upcoming longer pessimistic songs of the band, being again very good material with interesting lyrics, good melodies and nice instrumental passages. The cautious piano playing also sounds here much better than in the previous tracks. "Octopus" is another longer aggressive song, but I didn't like this one very much, though there's some funny obscure jamming in the end. The organ theme is little poor I think, and it gets very repetitive. I understood the bonus tracks on my version are from their early single. The A-side song is a tragicomic fatalist "People You Were Going To", great lyrics and keyboard driven melodies. The B-side "Firebrand" is a bluesy tune with raw keyboards and high-pitched bass guitar sound similar like on Wigwam's first album. There's similar hilarious madness in the song like on "The Necromancer".

Though I'm usually quite keen on late 1960's stuff, this album was a slight disappointment from some parts, and few moments satisfying my musical appetite quite well. As an anecdote, I found a picture from net which was claimed to be an early version of the album cover, having a hippy clothed lady spraying grey stuff from an aerosol can. I'm not totally sure about the truthfulness about this picture, but anyway it was so much neater than original one with screaming colours and primitive figures that I printed it out and placed over the original CD cover.

Eetu Pellonpaa | 3/5 |


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