Van der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (70) - 9/10
Van der Graaf Generator - H to He Who am the Only One (70) - 8.5/10
Van der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts (71) - 10/10
Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff (75) - 7/10
Van der Graaf Generator - Still Life (76) - 8/10
Van der Graaf Generator - World Record (76) - 8/10
Van der Graaf Generator/Jackson-Banton-Evans - Now and Then (released 91) - 4/10
This album contains eight short tracks, of which two were recorded in the period when VdGG were officially disbanded, 1973-74. The six other, which are credited to Jackson, Banton and Evans (that is, Van der Graaf Generator without Peter Hammill), were recorded in '84 and '85. The two tracks from the VdGG period do not exactly sound like excerpts from Pawn Hearts or Godbluff. They both have a light and playful atmosphere. But the musical complexity of one of them, "The Liquidator", is of VdGG quality! The other track from this period, "Tarzan", is more humouristic and simple. I guess that they had to make some music like this after the outrageous Pawn Hearts. None of the two tracks are part of VdGG's just released The Box. The Jackson-Banton-Evans tracks are not as exciting. The compositions aren't of Hammill class, but given the years they recorded this, it's really quite good: "The Main Slide" is very strange; dreamy, almost ambient, and sounds like something from Peter Hammill's solo album Loops and Reels. Other tracks are more in the blues or reggae vein, but not really that bad. I could do without some of the keyboard and drum machine sounds on some of the tracks. Fortunately, David Jackson's saxophone sounds just as it's supposed to. If you, like me, have everything by Van der Graaf Generator and want some more, then you've found a fair enough record to spend some money on. But don't expect it to be remotely as good as their other records.
Volo, Il - Il Volo (74) - 6/10
Il Volo consisted of former members of Formula 3, and the style is almost the same as on Formula 3's La Grande Casa: In general very pleasant and tranquil, and more song-oriented than most Italian prog bands. The band featured two keyboard players, and the clear, full sound of the keyboards makes it apparent that this was made in the mid-70's. Electric and acoustic guitars are used, but no instruments dominate, at least not for more than brief periods of time. And that is this the strength of this album - the band works well together. The vocals fit nicely in with the rest of the sound - they are sometimes almost whispered, and when it is needed, sung with a little more power. The atmosphere is dreamy and sort of "romantic" - the band name translates into "The Flight", which isn't such a bad description of their music. Some of it is a little bloodless, but definitely not all of it. Unfortunately, this record is quite commercially-sounding. Still, occasional outbursts of musical complexity can be heard, and make up the most memorable moments. If they had skipped the most commercial stuff, like the boring track "Sinfonia delle Scarpe da Tennis", I could have considered this record a good purchase.
Volo, Il - Essere o non Essere? (75) - 7/10
Ah, yes! Il Volo skipped the commercial bits from their self-titled debut for this record! Okay, they still have a quite bright and seemingly accessible sound. But the compositions are extremely subtle, with all kinds of almost unnoticeable details emerging all the time. There are also some "ethnic" moments - for example, bongo drums and some middle-eastern sounds are used on occasion. Moreover, the music is funky at times, but even more jazzy. String synthesizers are used a lot, creating a sensation that you are flying. In addition, it's all so relaxing, and still complex as hell (or Balletto di Bronzo) - a great combination. Almost completely instrumental, too, thus revealing the interplay between the different instruments in all its glory. An incredibly well-composed album, not far away from Chick Corea's Return to Forever record.