Reissues

Gift guide

Reissues

Van der Graaf Generator

The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (Virgin/EMI)

Van der Graaf Generator

H to He Who Am the Only One (Virgin/EMI)

Van der Graaf Generator

Pawn Hearts (Virgin/EMI)

Van der Graaf Generator is one of those Seventies bands: They toured with Genesis, and Johnny Rotten loved them. The UK quartet released several albums during the Seventies, and the remastered versions of three have made their way out of the ether. 1970's The Least We Can Do Is Wave at Each Other kicks off with "Darkness (11/11)," complete with gusts of howling wind. Singer Peter Hammill often sounds like Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, with definite moments of Spinal Tap sneer and falsetto peppered throughout. "White Hammer" grows and growls under Hammill's lyrics ("Though Hexenhammer was intended to slay only evil, fear and anger against magic overspilled"), then talks about the "white hammer of love." Yet VdGG doesn't sound like a parody, doing the prog shuffle before it was even progressive (subsequently, the cover artwork is terrible). H to He Who Am the Only One opens with the crystal "Killer"; "House With No Door" is a piano ballad, and the 15-minute "Squid 1/Squid 2/Octopus" is a rare track that has the band freaking out in the studio, Pink Floyd style. 1971 album Pawn Hearts opens with "Lemmings," a dizzying swirl of sax and organ culminating in an 11-minute piece of rock opera. Saxophone player David Jackson, who tackled the flute long before Tull, shreds on all three albums. "Theme One" is an instrumental, and "Angle of Incidents" is a next-level freak out. You can't categorize it.

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