Thursday, March 30, 2017

Van Der Graaf Generator - 1970 - H To He, Who Am The Only One

Van Der Graaf Generator 
H To He, Who Am The Only One

01. Killer (8:07)
02. House With No Door (6:03)
03. The Emperor In His War-Room (9:04)
- a) The Emperor
- b) The Room
04. Lost (11:13)
- a) The Dance In Sand And Sea
- b) The Dance In The Frost
05. Pioneers Over C. (12:05)

Total Time: 46:32

Bonus Tracks on 2005 Virgin remaster:
06. Squid 1 / Squid 2 / Octopus (15:24)
07. The Emperor In His War-Room (first version) (8:50)

- Peter Hammill / lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano (2)
- Hugh Banton / Hammond & Farfisa organs, piano, oscillator, bass (2,5), vocals
- David Jackson / alto, tenor & baritone saxes, flute, Fx, vocals
- Guy Evans / drums, timpani, percussion

- Nic Potter / bass (1,3,4)
- Robert Fripp / electric guitar (3)

With this strangely titled album, VDGG take you one step further into their sombre and lugubrious world. As potter exits throughout the album, Hugh Banton will handle that duty as well as most of the keyboards. However, as remastering job clearly reveals ( much better dynamics gives new life to bass lines) , it is obvious Banton is not as good as Potter was, but this is rather tenuous.
With the concert favourite ( but not mine) Killer to start up side 1 with its rather silly (IMHO) lyrics lamenting shark's loneliness at sea, one can see/hear the difference the remastering does but this is even more obvious in the next House With No Door that gains a new life especially with the good Banton bass lines. However the track gaining most is The Emperor: this track used to bore me stiff but this is simply not true anymore with Monsieur Fripp making a superb appearance again much bolstered by the re-mastering job.

The second side is a mixed bag as it contains my fave track, but also a very flawed second track. Lost is rather like the pinnacle of the album with the song meandering between the many moods and Hammill's voice together with Jackson's sax sends shivers down my spine still some twenty years after. Pioneers Over C has many orgasmic moments but also a few flaws, of which the weak Help Me chorus that is so obvious it becomes weak, the other being the semi Free jazz sax solo that gets simply ... lost! (Have they got their track titles mixed-up?) Not as bad as I make it to be , but here although the re-mastering job still does marvels , a good song-rewriting (correcting more an just the two flaws I mentioned) would help even more.

The first bonus track is a real gift, being a live-in-the-studio track holding many improvs that can only give us a hint of what was VDGG in concert at that time. It holds some magic moments and some lengths, but it is an outstanding track. The second bonus track (The Emperor) is less interesting as it can be considered as an alternate take, although there are some notable differences. If it had the Fripp intervention on this version , I might even like it better than the album version.

Again, this album is also available in mini-Lp sleeve and if you are to buy the remastered version, you might want to make the little extra financial effort to acquire the superb Paul Whitehead-signed gatefold sleeve.

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