Friday, December 03, 2021

Van Der Graaf Generator - Aerosol Grey Machine (UK 1969)

Size: 175 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster

The Aerosol Grey Machine is the debut studio album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. It was first released in the United States in 1969 by Mercury Records.

The album was originally intended as a solo album by the band's lead singer and main songwriter, Peter Hammill. When the band signed with Charisma Records, a deal was worked out whereby The Aerosol Grey Machine would be released under the Van der Graaf Generator name, in return for Mercury releasing Hammill from his earlier contract

The Aerosol Grey Machine was released in September 1969 by Mercury, in the US only. An initial edition contained the song "Giant Squid" on the cover but that was a mis-print (on the record "Necromancer" was featured instead), later pressings corrected the mis-print. This version of the LP was later released in Europe by Fontana Records.

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' was initially planned as the first Peter Hammill solo-record, but was finally released under the group name 'Van Der Graaf Generator', a device for producing high electrostatic potentials up to 15 million volt and quite a good name for such an energy loaden band. Now, VDGG owns as much to Byron, Shelley, Keats and E.A.Poe as to Chuck Berry. Peter Hammill is like Bob Dylan in the first place a poet, who composes music for his poems, supported by a great band . 

Hammiill has an expressive vocal range (from lamantations to cries and whispers) and on 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' one can already find the major elements of VDGG's music : Hammills expressive vocal style and poetry, Banton's classical inspired keyboard playing and Guy Evans' subtile drumming. The first five tracks (four songs) have a similar structure, the instruments enter one after the other (first the guitar, [on 'Afterwards' organ] than the bass, the piano or organ, Evans enters on drums establishes a medium tempo groove and Hammill starts singing , with small variations throughout the track. 

It is already typical VDGG, but the dynamic of the later records is still missing. The most interesting track of the four is 'Into a Game', the song starts the same way as the others, but in the middle there is an instrumental break starting with bass and drums joined by Banton, who delivers a nice piano solo and then Hammill joins and sings ad-libitum "into a game.." over the groove, until the track fades. 'Aerosol Grey Machine' is a funny publicity spot followed by a short instrumental 'Black Smoke Yen', where Evans establishes an interesting drum pattern joined by the bass and another piano solo by Banton. 

Now comes the best part: 'Aquarian' is a fantastic Prog-Pop-Song! It is the only track on the record (a part from the Bonus tracks) that follows a classical song structure with verse & chorus. [with the band joining on vocals for the chorus]. It starts with a great groove by Evans heavily phased drums and a pumping bass line joined by Hammill's vocals, a great chorus and a final organ frenzy.'Necromancer' is a nice stop and go rocker and 'Octopus' a heavy rocker with a ostinato bass line, organ washes and a nice organ solo in the second half, reminding Jon Lord. The record misses the dynamic tension of the later records, but is nevertheless a great record.

01. Afterwards (4:58)
02. Orthenthian St. (Part I) (2:23)
03. Orthenthian St. (Part II) (3:53)
04. Running Back (6:32)
05. Into a Game (5:56)
06. Aerosol Grey Machine (0:56)
07. Black Smoke Yen (1:18)
08. Aquarian (8:27)
09. Necromancer (3:30)
10. Octopus (7:41)
11. Firebrand (Single B-side) (4:08)
12. Firebrand [Demo] (3.33)
13. Sunshine [Demo] (4.04)
14. Ferret And Featherbird (4.33)
15. Giant Squid (3.19)