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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

4.06 | 1041 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The group's first album proper - 1969's 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' was in actual fact a Peter Hammill solo effort released under the VDGG name due to various complex contractual reasons - 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'(so named after a quote from British artist John Milton) began an extraordinary run of studio albums that not even the group's premature demise and eventual re-forming mid-way through the 1970s could halt. Issued on Tony Stratton-Smith's 'progressive' charisma imprint, Van Der Graaf Generator's darkly- poetic musical vision began here, the 'classic'-era line-up of Peter Hammill(guitar, vocals), Hugh Banton(organ), David Jackson(sax) and Guy Evans(drums) augmented by original bassist Nic Potter on an album brimming with Hammill's laconic lyrical themes, bravura instrumental interplay and a musical vision quite unlike anything heard before. Even within a burgeoning genre that, at the time, was considered new and radical, Van Der Graaf Generator were an outfit considered even more so, making their distinguished peers - the likes of Genesis, King Crimson and ELP - seem tame in comparison. The pulsating brew of squawking saxophones, semi-screeched vocals, throbbing bass-lines and doom-laden organ-shaped atmospherics makes for an, at times, astonishing listen from a group half-dipped in the art-rock canon; however, this is also an outfit that knows just when to rock out, and rock out they do. Opening gambit 'Darkness' captures the bleak Van Der Graaf Generator ambience almost perfectly, building up across its seven carefully-layered minutes from simple acoustic origins into a sonic maelstrom of un-blinking power-prog. However, it is the glorious epic 'After The Flood' that truly captures the group at their creative apex. Starting out - again - as a strummed and stripped- down medley, 'After The Flood' grows spectacularly through myriad sections of glowering cacophonies, taking in mad-jazz histrionics, blazing guitar squalls, gruesomely-distorted vocal screams and pulsating bass-and- organ-fried blasts before settling down(or should I say up?) into a beautifully upbeat denouement as Hammill growls majestically over a killer guitar solo. A truly epic track, 'After The Flood' may be Van Der Graaf Generator at their most daring, yet conversely it finds them also at their most brilliant. 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other' would begin a series of revelatory albums, followed on by 'H To He Who Am The Only One', 'Pawn Hearts' and after a much-needed hiatus, 'Still Life' and 'Godbluff'. These five albums showcase the very best of one of progressive rock's most distinct outfits, the journey beginning on this convention-shattering glimpse into the darker realms of the genre. In a word then: extraordinary.
stefro | 5/5 |


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