Vital is Van der Graaf Generator's first live album. Except for one-off reunions, it marked the end of Van der Graaf Generator as a band until their 2005 reunion. The album (on vinyl and, later, on CD) was credited under the truncated name Van der Graaf. It had the same line-up as on the previous year's The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (also credited to Van der Graaf), plus newcomer cellist Charles Dickie. Original saxophonist David Jackson re-joined the band for this recording.
The European release was a double LP on Charisma Records, ref'ed CVL0D101; the US release on double vinyl LP was on PVC Records, PVC 9901. The album was originally issued twice in the UK (CVLCD101, 1989), first with the entire 2LP track listing on the cover and label, but only actually containing sides one and two, and then reissued restoring some of the songs from sides three and four (excluding "Sci-Finance" and "Nadir's Big Chance") and correcting the cover and label. The entire double CD version was only issued in Japan (VJD-25023~24, 1989). This version had a booklet with incorrect lyrics (for instance "Sit down with the greats / To a thousand voices / Now dumb"). In 2005 a remastered double CD version was released, CVLCDR101.
The album is noted for its sometimes radical reworking of the older Van der Graaf Generator material. Although Van der Graaf Generator were seldom less than intense on stage, the set recorded here is remarkable for its ferocity.
The double live Vital was the noisy sign-off to Van Der Graaf. Recorded at London's Marquee during the second punk winter, it is desolate, dark and heavy, a mixture of new material and classics, delivered sparsely and aggressively. All VDGG originals are shredded with Hammill in loud rock guitar mode. Quiet Zone leftover ''Door'', ''Urban'' and finally, ''Nadir's Big Chance'', still maliciously (and deliciously) burst forth. Although VDG imploded, this era paved the way for one of the most interesting interludes in Hammill's career setting his course as a dark, electro-acoustic one-man band. User Comments