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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Van Der Graaf Generator picture
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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Live At Rockpalast: Leverkusen 2005 (2CD+DVD)Live At Rockpalast: Leverkusen 2005 (2CD+DVD)
Made In Germany Musi 2018
$18.12
$19.73 (used)
Do Not DisturbDo Not Disturb
Esoteric Antenna 2016
$10.97
$13.63 (used)
GodbluffGodbluff
Remastered
Caroline 2005
$5.44
$8.65 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Remastered
Caroline 2005
$5.49
$8.63 (used)
After the Flood-The BBC 1968-77After the Flood-The BBC 1968-77
Universal 2015
$12.68
$16.93 (used)
Vital (Live)Vital (Live)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Virgin / Charisma 2005
$11.51
$6.03 (used)
H To He Who Am I The Only OneH To He Who Am I The Only One
Extra tracks · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
$5.49
$8.19 (used)
Quiet Zone/The Pleasure DomeQuiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome
Extra tracks · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
$6.06
$3.94 (used)
Pawn HeartsPawn Hearts
Extra tracks · Remastered
Caroline World Service 2005
$5.49
$4.30 (used)
World RecordWorld Record
Extra tracks · Remastered
Virgin / Charisma 2005
$5.46
$8.60 (used)
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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 | 576 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.05 | 940 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
1970
4.31 | 1482 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.42 | 1962 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.49 | 1849 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.29 | 1364 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.82 | 696 ratings
World Record
1976
3.65 | 596 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.63 | 473 ratings
Present
2005
3.51 | 450 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.44 | 448 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.48 | 215 ratings
ALT
2012
3.59 | 142 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

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

3.79 | 254 ratings
Vital
1978
4.09 | 130 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.07 | 171 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.65 | 79 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
3.55 | 41 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.84 | 49 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.02 | 37 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

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

4.13 | 104 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
4.10 | 10 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.14 | 26 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.22 | 8 ratings
Live Broadcasts - Collector's Rarities
2006
3.98 | 54 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
4.53 | 34 ratings
Live at Metropolis Studios
2011

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

3.56 | 33 ratings
68-71
1972
4.33 | 3 ratings
Repeat Performance
1972
3.33 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.50 | 2 ratings
Rock Heavies
1978
2.31 | 56 ratings
Time Vaults
1982
3.40 | 61 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.35 | 45 ratings
Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
1986
2.14 | 39 ratings
Now And Then (Van Der Graaf Generator / Jackson, Banton, Evans)
1988
3.32 | 52 ratings
I Prophesy Disaster
1993
3.92 | 65 ratings
The Box
2000
3.49 | 18 ratings
An Introduction
2000
4.33 | 3 ratings
First Generation / Godbluff
2012

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

2.57 | 18 ratings
People You Were Going To / Firebrand
1969
4.08 | 21 ratings
Afterwards / Necromancer
1969
4.59 | 25 ratings
Refugees / Boat Of A Million Years
1970
3.64 | 29 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
3.17 | 6 ratings
Highly Strung
2011

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977 by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 2015
4.02 | 37 ratings

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After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This double-disc collection of archival material presents VdGG "live in the studio" performances for several notable BBC Radio shows from 1968 to 1977, thus covering their entire original career prior to 2005 reunion. Several of the tracks were previously unreleased so this is the opportunity for the band's hard-core fans and completists to add them to their precious collections. Sound quality varies considerably from session to session, but it is generally accepted for this type of archival release.

Some key VdGG songs such as "Darkness" and "Man-Erg" are included in two versions, which may sound overwhelming and frustrating to casual listeners. Still, the VdGG experts will rejoice in comparing the sound of "Darkness" with a bass guitar (Top Gear Session 1970) and without it (Sounds of the Seventies Session 1971). And since "Man-Erg" is one of the best and most important songs, not only of VdGG career, but also of entire progressive rock era and beyond, I don't mind hearing it twice in this set. It is particularly interesting to listen to the band in their earliest incarnation of 1968 playing three songs in rudimentary arrangements, that sound quite different from their later officially released versions on a single and the first album.

Another oddity is the inclusion of both songs from the rare single "Theme One/W" of 1971, as well as "Vision" that was released on the Hammill's debut solo LP "Fool's Mate" the same year. In terms of sound quality and production the second disc is much better. Performances from the latter days of 1976-77, such as "La Rossa", "When She Comes" and "Cat's Eye", are simply amazing; they could match perfectly their released studio versions.

In the absence of official live albums prior to the farewell release of 1978 "Vital", "After the Flood" serves the purpose well in order to present stage power of this seminal band, who for the most part of their career before 1976 rocked hard and heavy on saxophone and organ, without bothering to include guitars in their line-up. However, the uninitiated are advised to study the original eight studio albums first before buying this quite extended and at moments not very nicely mixed set of historically important radio performances.

 A Grounding In Numbers by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.44 | 448 ratings

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A Grounding In Numbers
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars If "Trisector" suffered from uncertainty of how to adjust the trio line-up to writing new studio material, its successor seems to overcome this problem. "A Grounding In Numbers" presents an almost perfect sounding trio band, which does not carry the burden of the past. Absence of Jackson's reeds is no longer felt and the band seems to have found the way to fill all the remaining soft spots in their sound. In no small part this must be credited to the producer Hugh Padgham who, while mixing different sections as contributed by each band member in an extensive period of recording, came up with a modern sound of 21st century that still preserves a good old VdGG identity from their past glories.

Science was always one of favourite topics of Hammill's song writing, and this time it extends from the cover artwork, the album title and up to the songs "Mathematics" and "5533". There is a popular expression in my region - when one wants to praise talents of a singer it is often claimed that he or she could sing "a phonebook lyrics" and that would sound beautiful. Well, Hammill can sing mathematical equations that sound not only beautiful but also confident and meaningful in the context of a rock song. Be it a song about the Euler's Number, which coincidentally is often referred to as a "mathematical poem", or his musings about matrix pattern found in the number 5533223, Hammill employs his voice to full potentials, so "you'd better believe" what he sings. On the other side of his lyrical spectrum, the very power of belief concentrated in a circle of a master/teacher and his devotees/adherents, which can apply to any system of doctrines in human society, is scathed in "Snake Oil" ("the companionship of the herd"), one of the album's highlights.

Another interesting feature of this album is that most of the songs are much shorter than what would you expect from VdGG, running from 2 to 5 minutes. This shows the band capable of condensing their arrangements and content into almost pop song structure, yet still retaining their trademark quality. Mid-tempo opener "Your Time Starts Now", heavy guitar-led New Wave-ish sounding "Highly Strung", irresistibly catchy "Mr. Sands", or funky "Smoke" recalling David Bowie's late 1970s dance beat experiments could easily be appreciated by general audience. With the exception of the longest track, 6-minute boredom of the closing "All Over the Place", the album is full of diverse sounds, topics and surprises, while several brief instrumentals, out of which a dark and percussion-heavy "Red Baron" is the best, provide a necessary break. And all of this diversity somehow sounds coherent, well devised and brilliantly performed and recorded. Finally, another highlight that must be mentioned is "Bunsho", where Hammill questions his ability as the author to anticipate the public reception of his art, while music-wise it is one of the best tracks VdGG made after the 2005 reunion.

Although not every single track on this album works 100 per cent (I could easily skip "Splink", "Medusa" and "All Over the Place"), the album as a whole deserves appreciation as the best studio effort of the post-reunification VdGG to date. "I can't see my stream" - complains Hammill in "Bunsho", but we as his audience are sure that we can see it, all the way through, even if that sounds like a "slavish devotion" to the master. :-)

 World Record by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.82 | 696 ratings

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World Record
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by notafrog

2 stars I've only just caught up with VDGG's back catalogue so this album was new to me. Given the sheer quality of this group's work on the five previous albums, from The Least We Can Do through to Still Life, I can only assume the second side of this one is some kind of wind up. The one thing the five predecessor albums all had going for them was a relentless sense of purpose that left the listener pretty much exhausted. This time I didn't feel any sense of purpose at all. The only song on the album that came anywhere near that effect was Masks. For the rest, the only thing that risked exhaustion was my patience. Maybe if they'd replaced the last ten minutes of Meurglys with a thunderer like La Rossa, the album might conceivably have crept into my collection, but as it is there's no chance.

Look, I can understand a band wanting to evolve, but normally bands evolve out of, not into, four kids jamming in a garage. Maybe this was the album that convinced them they couldn't in fact evolve, so they called it a day. That's fine by me. I'm happy and grateful to them for laying down five of the finest albums ever to grace the record stores and I'll politely overlook World's End - wow, that's a genuine Freudian slip.

 68-71 by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1972
3.56 | 33 ratings

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68-71
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 164

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967, by Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith, at Manchester University, but was settled in London. On arrival at London, Hammill and Smith met up the classically trained keyboardist Hugh Banton, who was a brother of one of their friends in Manchester. Later, the bass guitar player, Keith Ellis and the drummer Guy Evans joined them. However, soon Smith left the band, amicably. He felt his presence superfluous.

In 1969, they recorded their debut album "The Aerosol Grey Machine". It was intended to be the debut album of Hammill. After the release of the album, Ellis decided to leave off and was replaced by Nic Potter. Shortly, saxophonist and flautist David Jackson was invited by Hammill to join them. With that new line up, a new sound was established by the band, leaving beyond a more psychedelic musical influence of "The Aerosol Grey Machine" in favour of a more darker and complex musical textures. It was in that context, that the group released their second album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", in 1970. In the same year, the band recorded their third album, "H To He, Who Am The Only One". However, during the recording sessions of the album, Potter quit the band. So, the quartet composed by Hammill, Banton, Jackson and Evans, became on what is now considered the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's line up.

"68-71" is a compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in 1972. It includes eight tracks released on their first three albums. So, it comprises songs from "The Aerosol Grey Machine", "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other" and "H To He, Who Am The Only One". The first track "Afterwards" was released on "The Aerosol Grey Machine". This is a very simple and nave song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill. It's one of the best tracks on that album. The second track "The Boat Of The Millions Of Years" was never released on any studio album of them. It was written in 1970, the time when they released "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It was probably made to be part of that album but it was only included later on the album, as a bonus track. It was released as the B side of the single "Refugees". This isn't a bad song, but as a leftover, it doesn't represent one of their best moments. Still, it represents a rarity. The third track "Whatever Would Robert Have Said?" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's a good track with different passages and different rhythms. This is one of the most progressive tracks of that album. Still, it isn't as good as some other tracks. So, it isn't one of my favourite songs. The fourth track "Lost" was released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". This is a brilliant track. It's a song about loneliness, lost, love and madness, and it has also very good lyrics. There is a lot of variety in this piece. "Lost" is one of the most depressing pieces ever written by Hammill. The fifth track "Necromancer" was released on "The Aerosol Grey Machine". It's a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and with a good and melodic chorus. I think this is another interesting song. The sixth track "Refugees" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It represents the most sentimental moment on that album. This is a very beautiful song, very melodic and peaceful with a nice flute work 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 ever written by Hammill. The seventh track "Darkness" was released on "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's a great opener for that album and is also one of its best tracks. 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. The eighth track "Killer" was released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". It's a catchy and beautiful dark song. The saxophones of Jackson and the organ of Banton are present continuously and are very well supported by a brilliant rhythm section by Potter and Evans. This is one of my favourite songs of them. It shows the great atmosphere so typical of their sound.

Conclusion: "68-71" is a good compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator and a great window to their first musical years. It has songs from their first three studio albums that belong to their first musical era, from 1968-1972. However, it lacks to it songs from their fourth and best studio album "Pawn Hearts", released in 1971. The selection of the tracks is excellent and irreproachable. It has the two best tracks from "The Aerosol Grey Machine", "Afterwards" and "Necromancer", three of the best tracks from "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", "Whatever Would Robert Have Said?", and especially "Refugees" and "Darkness" and two excellent tracks from "H To He, Who Am The Only One", "Lost" and "Killer". Although, all the tracks on "H To He, Who Am The Only One", could be part of this compilation, because all are great. The only track with inferior quality is "The Boat Of The Millions Of Years". It's true that it's a good track, but it's inferior to the others. The final result is a good compilation but not an essential purchase.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Vital by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 1978
3.79 | 254 ratings

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Vital
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 157

"Vital" is Van Der Graaf Generator's debut live album. It's the only live album of the group made during their two first musical periods and it marked also the end of Van Der Graaf Generator as a band until their last reunion in 2005. The album was recorded in 16 January 1978 at The Marquee Club in London and was released in July of the same year. As happened with the band's previous album, it was also only credited under the name of Van Der Graaf.

It has also the same line up of "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome", plus the new band's member Charles Dickie. It shows also the return of their original saxophonist David Jackson, as a guest. So, the line up on the album is Peter Hammill (vocals, piano and guitars), Graham Smith (violin), Nick Potter (bass guitar), Guy Evans (drums) and Charles Dickie (cello, electric piano and synthesizer). David Jackson (saxophones and flute), appears as a guest musician.

My review of "Vital" is about the double CD remastered edition of 2005 with ten tracks. The first track "Ship Of Fools" is a live version of a song released as the B side of the single "Cat's Eye". "Cat's Eye" was released on "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome". The second track "Still Life" is a live version of a song released on "Still Life". The third track "Last Frame" is a live version of a song released on "The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome". The fourth track "Mirror Images" is a live version of an unreleased song. It was released later on Hammill's "PH7". The fifth track "Medley: A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers/Sleepwalkers" is a medley of two songs, "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" released on "Pawn Hearts" and "Sleepwalkers" released on "Godbluf". The sixth track "Pioneers Over C" is a live version of a song released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". The seventh track "Sci-Finance" is a live version of an unreleased song. The eighth track "Door" is a live version of an unreleased song. The ninth track "Urban/Killer/Urban" is a live version of two songs. "Urban" is an unreleased song and "Killer" was released on "H To He, Who Am The Only One". The tenth track "Nadir's Big Chance" is a live version of a song released on Hammill's "Nadir's Big Chance".

About the performance on the album, I think we can say this is a very strange and curious live album. It contains some new material, recent material and some old favourite material. Yet, they are all played with a dark malignant air hanging around them. Maybe because we were in times of changes, in 1978, the times of punk rock movement. I've always thought "Vital" was one of the heaviest and aggressive live albums ever made, even for Van Der Graaf Generator's canon. When I'm saying heavy and agressive, I don't mean "heavy" in the Iron Maiden's sense of the word, and I don't mean "aggressive" in the King Crimson's sence, too. Listen to Potter's bass on "Nadir's Big Chance" and you can see what I'm saying, or Hammill's utterly rabid vocals at the end of "Ship Of Fools". Then, there's the sombre, crushing doom of "Still Life", which surpasses its studio predecessor. Listening to this it's not hard to imagine why Johnny Rotten was enthusiastic with them. Sometimes it seems like we are being hit by a car. Perhaps it was due to that they added a cello, because Hammill thought they were getting "too much extreme" live. To be fair there are some times when this album drags a bit with the heaviness and aggressivity of some of its live versions, and some other times it's performed much more closely faithful with the original studio versions. For instance, "Mirror Images" and "Medley: A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers/Sleepwalkers" are the two and only tracks performed with the sound more close to the original sound of the group. By the other hand, "Still Life" is performed as if the paranoia, restfulness and the final resigned state of the song's subjects have exploded asunder. Still, it's the only official live album the band released in the 70's, even if it was performed with an atypical line up. But it still remains a great line up. It only lacks Hugh Banton.

Conclusion: I've heard people describe this album as a masterpiece and others as utterly detestable and criminal. I think none are right. Still, despite "Vital" be a very good live album I always was a bit disappointed with it. I expected much more of the first live album of a band like Van Der Graaf Generator. This is an album with a very savage heavy sound, with some punk influences, which was very unusual in them. By the other hand, the quality of the sound should be better, even on my remastered edition. I think there are two reasons for that. First, they were again with financial difficulties and they needed a record company to support them. In those times we were at the height of the punk movement and probably they thought that the change of their sound was an attempt to resolve that problem. Second, is the absence of their keyboardist and founder member Hugh Banton. I always considered his keyboard sound as one of the pillars of the group's sound. So, despite the high quality of the musicians who participated on the album and the return of David Jackson, the lack of his presence is clearly felt. Still, "Vital" remains, for me, an essential addition to any progressive rock collection, especially because it represents a great statement of the band and of those times of prog.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977) by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1986
3.35 | 45 ratings

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Second Generation (Scenes from 1975-1977)
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 153

'Second Generation (Scenes From 1975-1977)' is a compilation of Van Der Graaf Generation and was released in 1986. This is a compilation that includes tracks from four studio albums of them, their fifth studio album 'Godbluff', released in 1975, their sixth studio album 'Still Life', released in 1976, their seventh studio album 'World Record', released also in 1976, and their eighth studio album 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome', released in 1977.

'Godbluff', 'Still Life', 'World Record' and 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' belong to their second musical period. About these four albums there isn't a consensual opinion among all the progressive rock fans, or even with the band's fans. Relatively to 'Godbluff' and 'Still Life' is commonly accepted that they are two truly masterpieces, being 'Godbluff' also considered one of the best albums ever made. 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome' is in general considered one of their weakest albums from the 70's, with their debut studio album 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'. With 'World Record' the opinions are slightly divided, because some people considered it an excellent album too.

'First Generation (Scenes From 1975-1977)' has nine tracks. The first track 'The Undercover Man' was taken from 'Godbluff'. It begins with Hammill's voice in a low timbre, accompanied by Jackson's flute and Evans' drums. The track develops, with a slow crescendo of Hammill's voice and Banton's organ. This is one of the most beautiful songs created by the band. The second track 'Scorched Earth' was taken from 'Godbluff'. It's a traditional band's track. This is a darker, aggressive and complex track. It has a great work by Jackson on saxophones, well accompanied by Hammill's aggressive vocals. It represents the closest track to their previous album, 'Pawn Hearts'. The third track 'The Sleepwalkers' was taken from 'Godbluff'. It represents the highlight of 'Godbluff'. This is the lengthiest track on that album and is one of their best songs. The fourth track 'Pilgrims' was taken from 'Still Life'. This is a very good track to open 'Still Life'. It starts with a gloomy and melancholic note, along with your own mood and then slowly pulls out its melancholy, ending in a not of an optimistic message. There is a beautiful Banton's organ with soft vocals from Hammill, but Jackson's saxophones make the real mood here. The fifth track 'Still Life' was taken from 'Still Life'. This is a very dark song that speaks about the death and one's own resignation before the death. It's about the consequences of the immortality and the inevitable paradoxes of the eternal life, if there is such kind of thing. It starts with Hammill's singing and Banton's playing organ. The song grows with intensity all over it. The sixth track 'When She Comes' was taken from 'World Record'. This is a song related with Peter's personal love affair. It relates how unstable and unpredictable the relationships are, and how we can live with a person that we didn't know as well as we thought. This is a very sarcastic song with with an excellent saxophone and organ works by Jackson and Banton. The seventh track 'The Siren Song' was taken from 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome'. This is a very calm and beautiful song conducted by piano and violin. It's a very melancholic and acoustic song with deep vocals. This is a song that came directly from the past with the same dark atmosphere of their previous albums. It seems a reminiscent of 'Pilgrims'. The eighth track 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' was taken from 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome'. This is my favourite song on that album. It has a fantastic violin work which demonstrates the technical virtuosity of Smith, which raises this song to the perfection of a masterpiece. This is a very frantic and heavy song with an excessive vocal approach by Hammill. The ninth track 'Wondering' was taken from 'World Record'. It's the song that ends beautifully 'World Record'. This is a hymn with a note of hope and desperate questions. It's an optimistic song with great lyrics supported by high quality Banton's keyboards. It brings to us the hope that we need after the breakup on a relationship. It tells us we can return, arise and survive in this world. This is also a nice and perfect way to close this compilation too.

Conclusion: This is another compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator with a great selection of tracks. Relatively to the selection from 'Godbluff', 'The Undercover Man', 'Scorched Earth' and 'The Sleepwalkers', are absolutely perfect. Still, if 'Arrow' had been selected, it would have been perfect too. Relatively to the selection from 'Still Life', 'Pilgrims' and 'Still Life', it's excellent. But, I would have preferred the inclusion of 'La Rossa' instead of 'Still Life'. Relatively to the selection from 'World Record', 'When She Comes' and 'Wondering', it's also perfect. Still, I'm very sad that 'Masks' couldn't be included on it. Finally, and relatively to the selection from 'The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome', 'The Siren Song' and 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)', it's once more excellent. In my opinion, 'Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)' is the best track on the album. 'Siren' is also one of the best tracks, but if it had been replaced by 'Last Frame' or 'The Wave', it would have been nice too. However, and as happens with so many other progressive compilations, it doesn't can substitute those albums by any mean. So, it's only good and not an essential purchase.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971) by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1986
3.40 | 61 ratings

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First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 152

"First Generation (Scenes From 1969-1971)" is a compilation of Van Der Graaf Generation and was released in 1986. This is a compilation that includes tracks from three studio albums of them, their second studio album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", released in 1970, their third studio album "H To He, Who Am The Only One", released also in 1970, and their fourth studio album "Pawn Hearts", released in 1971. However and curiously, it doesn't include any track from their debut studio album "The Aerosol Grey Machine", released in 1969, an album of their first phase too.

So, "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", "H To He, Who Am The Only One" and "Pawn Hearts" belong, with their debut studio album "The Aerosol Grey Machine", to their first musical period. However, these three albums are, without any doubt, the better of their first four studio albums. "H To He, Who Am The Only One" and "Pawn Hearts" are also considered with "Godbluff" and "Still Life", from their second musical period, the four greatest masterpieces from the band. "Pawn Hearts" and "Godbluff" are even considered two of the best progressive rock albums ever made.

"First Generation (Scenes From 1969-1971)" has seven tracks. The first track "Darkness (11/11)" is a song taken from their second studio album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's a great opener and is also one of its 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 and feel for the first time the incredible and unique sound of the saxophones of Jackson. The second track "Killer" is a song taken from their third studio album "H To He, Who Am The Only One". It's a catchy and beautiful dark song. The saxophones of Jackson and the organ of Banton are present continuously and are very well supported by a brilliant rhythm section by Potter and Evans. It portrays the usual hunting musical atmosphere that this band is able to create with their music. The third track "Man-Erg" is a song taken from their fourth studio album "Pawn Hearts". It's a song with a beautiful piano introduction and is followed by Hammill's voice. On it we can hear Banton's organ accompanied by Evans' very expressive drumming, great Jackson's saxophones and some very pretty acoustic and electric guitar work made by Hammill and Fripp. Probably, this is the most beautiful song on "Pawn Hearts". The fourth track "Theme One" is a song taken from their fourth studio album "Pawn Hearts". The track didn't appear on the UK release, but did appear on the release of the album in the USA. It was also released as a single with "W" as the B side. This is a truly amazing instrumental piece dominated by Jackson's saxophones. It has a funy tune and retains the optimistic vibe of the band. It manages to relesse for a while the emotional tension that we can feel on the whole album. I'm sure it was used in many radio stations. The fifth track "Pioneers Over C." is a song taken from their third studio album "H To He, Who Am The Only One". It contains the usual hypnotizing sax and keyboard musical lines. "C" is the scientific name of the speed of light, and this song is a sort of a musical interpretation of faster than light travel and its consequences on the travellers on their voyages. Musically, it's one of the strongest songs on the album, which sounds great, and fits perfectly well on the album. The sixth track "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" is a song divided into ten parts, "Eyewitness", "Pictures/Lighthouse", "Eyewitness", "S.H.M.", "Presence Of The Night", "Kosmos Tour", "(Custard's) Last Stand", "The Clot Thickens", "Land's End" and "We Go On". It's a song taken from their fourth studio album "Pawn Hearts". This is a great track, one of the most innovative and creative pieces ever made by them. The twenty three minute of this conceptual piece is very epic and is finished by a great guitar solo by Fripp. This is a monumental track. The seventh and last track "Refugees" is a song taken from their second studio album "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other". It's 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.

Conclusion: This is a compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator with a great selection of tracks. Some of their best and most legendary tracks are here. The selection of "Darkness (11/11)" and "Refugees" from "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other", couldn't be better. They're, for me, the two best songs on the album and they're also two of the best tracks ever made by them. About the selection of "Killer" and "Pioneers Over C." from "H To He, Who Am The Only One", I've nothing against. The album is so good that any of its songs could be part of the compilation. Relatively to the selection of "Man-Erg" and "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" from "Pawn Hearts", both suffer from the same problem of "H To He, Who Am The Only One". The tracks are also so good that if it was "Lemmings" to be selected, it would also have been absolutely perfect. Finally, "The Theme" is a very beautiful and different track, which fits very well on it, too. Still, this compilation doesn't can substitute those albums by any mean. So, it's good but not an essential purchase.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 940 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 | 576 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 | 450 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.

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

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