'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. - Review by Alucard (Martin Horst)

Track Listings

1. Afterwards (4:58)
2. Orthenthian St. (Part I) (2:23)
3. Orthenthian St. (Part II) (3:53)
4. Running Back (6:32)
5. Into a Game (5:56)
6. Aerosol Grey Machine (0:56)
7. Black Smoke Yen (1:18)
8. Aquarian (8:27)
9. Necromancer (3:30)
10. Octopus (7:41)
11. Giant Squid* (3:19)
12. Ferret & Featherbird** (4:34)
13. People You Were Going To*** (2:44)
14. Firebrand*** (4:08)

Total Time: 60:20
*USA Mercury LP release included
no 11 in place of no 09
** The FIE! Records CD release includes no 9 and 11 with one Extra No 12
*** The Repertoire CD misses no 11, but contains no 13 and no 14 as additional tracks these 2 songs were first published in 1968 as a single.

- Hugh Banton / piano, organ, backing vocals
- Keith Ellis / bass, backing vocals
- Guy Evans / drums, percussion
- Peter Hammill / lead vocals, acoustic guitar
- Jeff Peach / flute


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