Monday, April 6, 2009

Van der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other

7/10

This can be considered the first true VDGG album. It's the first with David Jackson on reeds, and the first with the dark-but-bombastic style that became the band's trademark; hell, the first track is called "Darkness (11/11)"! (I'm not sure what the "11/11" means; I just hope that creature doesn't have trample.) It's not all dark, though; "Refugees" is a hopeful story of Eastern European intellectuals escaping their Communist-dominated home countries after World War II (I think), although even that song's awfully melancholy. It's a little reminiscent of King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind," in that it's the second song on the album and it's not nearly as dark as most of the rest of the band's catalog.
Unfortunately, the next song, "White Hammer," suffers from somewhat tepid music (except for the wild sax solo at the end) and TERRIBLE detached lyrics straight out of a history book about witch hunts in the early Renaissance. Lame. Fortunately, side 2 is pretty good, with more typical VDGG lyrics. There's even a bit of electric guitar in "Whatever would Robert Have Said?," a song about the band's namesake, Robert van de Graaff. (The band's name was misspelled initially, but they decided to keep it that way.) The last two songs are the also-surprisingly light "Out of My Book", which is the album's shortest song at just four minutes, and the 11-minute "After the Flood," which isn't too bad except for the middle part, which just descends into chaos. I can't rate this higher because "White Hammer" is just a waste of eight minutes, but it's not a bad place to start at all.

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