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The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other Extra tracks, Import, Original recording remastered
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The heavy, at times cacophonous sound on the album is dominated largely by Peter Hammill's remarkable vocals, which range from a "heavy metal" rasp to a high-pitched "choir boy" vocal style, along with Hugh Banton's twisted/heavily distorted/churchy Hammond organ work, superb drumming by Guy Evans, and David Jackson's saxophone playing, which gets fairly free-form at times. This album did feature a full time bassist position, which was filled by Nic Potter.
I think that it is worth noting that although a great deal of this album is bleak and harsh, the piece Refugees is quite possibly the most beautifully sad composition VDGG ever wrote. Although I do enjoy the abrasive and gothic qualities of the music, Refugees is just a very nice song and one I return to again and again. There are also lighter moments on the short (4'08") track Out of my Book, which features some nice flute playing by David.
The EMI remastered album is excellent with dramatically improved sound quality that brings out the subtle nuances of each piece. Perhaps the greatest sound improvement is with Guy's drums - I can finally hear his playing and he is justifiably regarded as one of prog rock's greatest drummers. The artwork is also excellent and the detailed liner notes feature a number of publicity shots. The bonus tracks include Boat of a Million Years, and an edit of Refugees. Both tracks were released as a single in April 1970.
This album is highly recommended along with H to He, Pawn Hearts, and Still Life (1976).
This is as Tomas said a true prog classic, the first "real" VDGG album proper... it alternates between lush, melancholic ballads like "Refugees" and "Out of My Book" and ominous, historically-referenced epics like "White Hammer" (about the Spanish Inquisition, which nobody expects, right?) and "After the Flood," about nuclear Armageddon. The remaster even adds an alternate "Refugees" and one of my personal VDGG songs, another historically-based one (this time about Horus, Osiris and Ancient Egypt) called "The Boat of Millions of Years".
My personal favorite is "Whatever Would Robert Have Said," named after Robert Van de Graaf himself...this is a perfect distillation of what this seminal, one-of-a-kind group was/is all about. Great lyrics, fantastic start/stop arrangement, and a vocal from Peter Hammill that alternates between searing and plaintive. Highly recommended and certainly to be included on any "introduction to Progressive Rock" CD you might make to introduce the uninitiated into this wild and woolly genre.
You should get this and all the other VDGG remasters ASAP...this is a highly underrated group with a tremendous influence on musicians from John Lydon to Peter Gabriel.
Sure, this particular album sounds dated, extremely dark because of its lyrically-dominated nature, and quite depressing because of Peter Hammill's distinctly fantastic lyric-writing talents, not to mention all those unforgettable and emotional mood shifts taking place during his constantly changing vocal range.
Why I love Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator is simple-
The keyboards are always played in a depressing or mysterious kind of way, and you almost never hear TOO many keyboard jams. They won't ever wear you out, let me put it that way. They are always played quietly and fit the mood of Hammill's lyrics. The mood the keyboards present is similar to exploring somewhere you have never been before, and approaching it with a feeling of adventure and excitement.
The keyboards always remind me of somewhere dark, like inside a cave or basement or somewhere mysterious, and the keyboards alone fit perfectly with Halloween. Other times they remind me of being somewhere in outerspace, all alone, and unsure if going back to Earth will ever be a possibility again.
The saxophone jams are sort of the opposite. They put optimistic feelings in my mind, and give me a sensation that I have the potential to escape any kind of dangerous or confusing situation if I try hard enough. They are always melodic and played tastefully. They present emotional shifts similar to Hammill's vocals.
The fact that Van Der Graaf Generator writes epic progressive rock tracks and yet they NEVER sound like a typical prog rock band speaks volumes to me.Read more ›
I feel that liking this album is going to be a tough assignment for newcomers. I've known Van Der Graaf for 28 years, and this album for a week. I love the albums I knew in my youth -- particularly GODBLUFF, STILL LIFE and PAWN HEARTS -- but, at the age of 42, I struggle to digest new VdGG discoveries. As always with VdGG albums, this one improves with each hearing. After about my fourth hearing, I was so disillusioned that I was all prepared to write a short of essay entitled, 'Whatever was the point in progressive music?', focussing on the assertion that teenagers and students in the early 70s had less money but less choice of leisure products -- no video, no Nintendo, and in the UK at least, no all-day TV.
But after several more auditions, I believe this album stacks up well (without being quite so excellent) as the other three I named. All the VdGG ingredients are here, fully-formed -- even the fledgling special effects. (I would imagine Hammill is quite embarrassed today about the dalek voice borrowed from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop used to sing the 'total annihilation' lyric in 'After the Flood'.) As other reviewers have said, this album owes something to IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING; there are also very faint echoes of the acoustic guitar style of Bowie's SPACE ODDITY and Jethro Tull's flute.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other is a great piece done by the group. Perter Hammil is excellent here. Read morePublished on January 27, 2014 by Paul R. Trembley
The masterpiece many Van Der Gaff Generator draftees start with is Pawn Hearts, a monolith of song and dissonance. Read morePublished on April 23, 2011 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
David Jackson and Hugh Banton should be of VDGG. Peter Hammil was not enough. Listen to Quiet Zone and compare it with works from The least... to The World Record. Read morePublished on October 3, 2010 by POLIECON