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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 | 1024 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars If you exclude "The Aerosol Grey Machine", which was really a Peter Hammill solo album released under the VDGG name for contractual reasons, then "The Least We Can Do.." was the band's first album release.

It is one of three that I will occasionally cite as "my favourite VDGG album", the other two being "H to He Who Am The Only One" and "The Quite Zone/The Pleasure Dome".

The reason for this uncertainty is, as you may understand if you know the band's music, that their style of music making is not the easiest to appreciate. For me, it is "mood music" - I don't mean that in the sense that it is smooch music of the sort you might put on for a romantic evening with a loved one, but rather in the sense that I have to be in a specific frame of mind, that I cannot easily describe, to be able to listen to it and enjoy it. I will go months during which I cannot bear them, yet there will be longer periods when I find all of their music enjoyable. As such, I will always list them as one of my favourite music artists. I also enjoy peter Hammill's solo work, although not as much as VDGG, I think he is even more difficult to appreciate on his own - some albums (I have not heard all of his solo work) are sublime ("Clutch") whilst others I cannot listen to at all ("Black Box"). I occasionally try to listen to "Black Box" to see if I have changed in a way that allows me to enjoy it but that hasn't yet happened.

Anyway, back to VDGG, all of whose albums I do enjoy and to "The Least We Can Do.", which is the subject of this blog!

I would say that it's one of my favourite VDGG albums because it is one of the most accessible ones; there is discernable melody here and plenty of it too. That is always important to me, more so than lyrics (but there may be many VDGG/Peter Hammill fans who fixate on his lyric writing as one of their favourite aspects) and this is one of VDGG'd most melodious albums. Tracks (not sure I can call them songs) such as the opener "Darkness (11/11)", "Refugees" and "After the Flood" are good examples, with the music on "Refugees" being quite beautiful at times.

The songs are complex, long and not in a usual rock format or beat at all but another feature of this album that I find enjoyable is the wonderful rhythm that Nic Potter (bass) and Guy Evans (drums) can set up - quite jazzy in a modernistic sort of way (not in an Ella Fitzgerald way at all!). Hugh Banton on keyboards and David Jackson on saxes and flute add wonderful aural textures and energy, as well as melody. These four create a wonderful musical soundscape for Peter Hammill to deliver his "sung" lyrics - well, if you've ever heard peter Hammill "sing" then you will understand that his is a delivery that will not suit everyone. It suits this music and I like it.

So - melody, drive, invention, energy, wonderful musical soundscapes and a vocalist that demands your attention - this is one of the great VDGG albums from a career that has delivered a strong set of albums - including the recent "Present", released after an interval of some 25 years from what many thought would be their last, "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome". And there is another studio album in the offing for 2008!! Great - can't wait!

alextorres2 | 4/5 |


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