Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Van Der Graaf - Vital (1978)

What the fuck is the matter with people? One of the best bands of the prog era make one of the heaviest live albums ever and the critics at the time completely shit on it so it remains in obscurity forever. Stupid! Let us not forget that these are the same critics that were telling us how worthless Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were all the while touting the genius of The J. Geils Band and Toto. Fucking puke.

Van Der Graaf Generator were difficult to most listeners. They are not "tight" in the way King Crimson or Genesis are known for. They were way more punk and experimental in their approach to "progressive" music of the time. Jazz influenced in theory only, not in the academic way, say, Henry Cow or Gentle Giant were. There are no frolicking elves and faeries in Van Der Graaf music. This is why they rock a thousand times more than their peers.

Vital is the only official live album of the 70s released by the mighty Van Der Graaf (they dropped the Generator by this time) and it is a fucking ripper. Not ripping in the sense of Thin Lizzy - Live and Dangerous per se, but more in the way of Sleep's Holy Mountain or something. Singer/main songwriter/keyboardist Peter Hammill is brilliant at making music that's both beautiful and horrific at once and he honed that skill perfectly within the group of insanely talented musicians in VDGG. This release highlights my favorite aspects of their music. The contrast between Hammill's angelic and demonic vocals, disgustingly distorted thumping bass, intense drumming and David Jackson's sax. Yes sax. Don't be scurred. It works.

This is prog at it's best. It's absolutely madness. Play loud.


Anonymous said...

Thanks! I couldn't agree more! VDGG is one of the best prog bands to get no mainstream recognition, and they are to this day still innovative and kick ass!

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

't'ain't the only official live album - there's also 'Real Time - Live at the Royal Festival Hall, May 6th 2005', covering their first 'reactivation' show. If you haven't given the more recent VDGG releases a listen, you really ought to. 'Present', 'Trisector' and 'A Grounding In Numbers' are all superb - 'Present' in particular.

I was lucky enough to see them 3 times over the last seven years and they never disappointed, even without David Jackson.

Cory said...

doh! i meant the other offical live release of the 70s! duh thanks!

Nekromantis said...

Great band

peskypesky said...

thank you. VDGG were woefully unknown in the US.

stargraves said...

Yay! At last! I'm with everyone already - VdGG rock. They are my fave band by a mile. Saw them on every tour since they reformed - (the last gig I saw was in 2011 at the Manchester academy - they were the loudest band I'd seen since Death Angel & Carcass in the Liverpool Bierkeller 1987) and I was also at the Royal Festival Hall reunion gig in 2005 too. Well worth checking out - as is Peter Hammill's solo releases - I have all (50 perhaps) of them. Van Der Graaf are a great band - and in Hammill - they have an inspirational leader and genius lyricist!