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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$5.29
$3.95 (used)
Do Not DisturbDo Not Disturb
Import
Esoteric Antenna 2016
Audio CD$10.44
$7.47 (used)
Time VaultsTime Vaults
Remastered
Abstract Sounds 2008
Audio CD$3.95
$3.55 (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$5.27
$5.14 (used)
World RecordWorld Record
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Virgin / Charisma 2005
Audio CD$5.23
$6.55 (used)
Still LifeStill Life
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$5.25
$3.91 (used)
GodbluffGodbluff
Import · Remastered
Caroline 2005
Audio CD$5.17
$4.22 (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$5.38
$5.16 (used)
Grounding in NumbersGrounding in Numbers
Import
Esoteric 2011
Audio CD$12.17
$14.48 (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 | 567 ratings
The Aerosol Grey Machine
1969
4.05 | 927 ratings
The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other
1970
4.31 | 1456 ratings
H To He, Who Am The Only One
1970
4.42 | 1932 ratings
Pawn Hearts
1971
4.48 | 1820 ratings
Godbluff
1975
4.29 | 1342 ratings
Still Life
1976
3.83 | 686 ratings
World Record
1976
3.64 | 585 ratings
The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome
1977
3.63 | 464 ratings
Present
2005
3.51 | 443 ratings
Trisector
2008
3.41 | 438 ratings
A Grounding In Numbers
2011
2.48 | 209 ratings
ALT
2012
3.61 | 132 ratings
Do Not Disturb
2016

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

3.79 | 249 ratings
Vital
1978
4.09 | 127 ratings
Maida Vale (The BBC Radio One Sessions)
1994
4.06 | 169 ratings
Real Time
2007
3.66 | 78 ratings
Live at the Paradiso
2009
3.56 | 40 ratings
Recorded Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London
2012
3.85 | 47 ratings
Merlin Atmos
2015
4.44 | 34 ratings
After the Flood: At The BBC 1968 - 1977
2015

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

4.13 | 103 ratings
Godbluff Live 1975
2003
4.00 | 9 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2003
3.14 | 26 ratings
Inside Van Der Graaf Generator
2005
3.22 | 8 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
3.40 | 61 ratings
First Generation (Scenes from 1969-1971)
1986
3.35 | 45 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
 Vital by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Live, 1978
3.79 | 249 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 | 927 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 | 567 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 | 443 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 | 169 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 | 249 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 | 464 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 | 438 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.

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

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