The original Van de Graaff generator was invented in 1929 and it still has its uses in physics today but the one we are interested in here at The Record Album was formed almost 40 years later. When Pete Hamill and Chris Judge Smith launched their band in Manchester in 1967, they added an ‘r’ and removed an ‘f’ to form Van der Graaf Generator.
What followed was some of the darkest, and now most fabled prog rock of all. In its first incarnation, which with few line-up changes lasted until 1971, the band produced four, now much sought after, albums and beautiful copies of the first two to be released in the UK, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other and H to He Who Am The Only One have arrived in the shop on Terminus Road.
The group’s first album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, effectively a Hamill solo record, had been only released in the US for contractual reasons.
The two we have are both on the original pink scroll label, with the first of them being the very first record released by Charisma. They are in immaculate condition and The Least… also has the extremely rare original poster that has made the album something of a holy grail for collectors. It appears to be the second mix of the album, after the first had been hastily withdrawn at the request of the band, and has the all important G on the runout track.
The band regarded this as their first album and when it was released in February 1970 it was widely acclaimed (some likening it to King Crimson’s debut) and reached number 47 on the UK album chart. It was to be the only time that they made the top 50.
Robert Fripp, then and now the leader of King Crimson, actually played on H to He… which was released less than a year later. Like its predecessor, it has come to be regarded as a prog classic. We think you’d be fortunate to find better copies of either than the ones that just arrived in The Record Album racks.