Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

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


Released 1970 on Charisma Records
Reviewed by zmnathanson, 25/01/2009ce


For VDGG, it was almost a darker view of hell and Edgar Allen Poe meets HP Lovecraft, the darker version of Genesis. Though they had word of mouth with their debut album with The Aerosol Grey Machine, Peter Hammill decided to go a little further to get you going for a post-apocalyptic darkness. Unlike Lindisfarne, VDGG could come up with some odd time signatures and bizarre views of the modern world.
And while Peter Hammill was almost like a stage actor by singing about a nuclear holocaust VDGG sounded like a cross between Miles Davis's Bitches Brew-era and John Coltrane. Seemingly, opening up the door so hardcore with their second album that remains almost a doomsday album in a scientific way of brilliancy. The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other is one of them. The album delivers three highlights: The autobiography tale of Peter Hammill's early days in the '60s with Michael Brand and Susan Penhaligon with the warmful ballad Refugees, the marching jazz King Crimson influence of Whatever Would Robert Have Said?, and another lushful piece Out of my Book which is almost a segue to Refugees, delivers a melancholic statement. But White Hammer shows the darker decade of 1486, starts off as an ambient sinsiter mood of the Spanish Inquistion and then Hugh Banton's keyboards lets out a HUGE fucking roar while David Jackson's saxophone brings the climax to a gigantic finale as if VDGG were recording an italian-horror film for Dario Argento or recorded today.
And while the album has the gloomy views of hell and beauty, there's another side of VDGG's usual killing taste. The Least We Can Do is heavy and deadly; there's the physical emotion of anger on the views of human nature with the exerting energy of Darkness (11/11) and the flaming fire sound of the 11-minute epic, After The Flood gives a sonic boom that would make you get ready for WWIII with its avant-garde void and Peter Hammill's screaming voice of "TOTAL ANNIHILATION!" filling the cloudless sky as the voice screams for mercy and a anti-war riot.
Listening to this album about 13 times, it was almost sounded like a Luis Bunuel alternate soundtrack to give the audience suprised and shocked with the music. Alongside other British prog rockers, VDGG's sound of experimental music mixed with Punk and Prog would get a huge run. No wonder Johnny Rotten loved this band.


Reviews Index