Van der Graaf Generator

One More Heaven Gained

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Sad but true -- there are no genuinely hi-fi live recordings of Van Der Graaf Generator left in the vault. That was proven by the release of the band's own official box set, which was forced to reach back into the muddy realms of bootleggery for what were generally regarded as its most blistering highlights, the three 1975 live tracks that closed disc two. One More Heaven Gained offers more of the same, recorded during the band's London show at the New Victoria Theatre three weeks after those cuts were taped, and duplicating two of them (a slightly shorter "Man-Erg" and a somewhat longer "Lemmings"). In terms of power and delivery, there's not much to choose between the two offerings. Where One More Heaven Gained gains, then, is in serving up (presumably) the entire show, a darkly atmospheric and occasionally disturbing meander through both forthcoming Van Der Graaf Generator material ("Arrow," "La Rossa," and "Scorched Earth") and a couple of songs that were familiar from Peter Hammill's solo career -- a ruthlessly eerie "Faint-Heart and the Sermon" and a positively ferocious "A Louse Is Not a Home," performed with such depth that it almost eclipses the studio take. An informed guess would point to a handheld microphone in the audience being responsible for preserving this magical evening, but a respectful audience keeps its own noise to a minimum, and the edge of distortion that hangs around the drums lends its own ambience to the proceedings. Vital, the band's official live document, might provide a more sociable entrée into the world of live Van Der Graaf. But One More Heaven Gained reminds you what it was like to actually witness them and, as such, is an essential find for anyone who managed to miss them.

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