Van Der Graaf Generator were never a part of the Progressive mainstream, although they were probably more genuinely ‘Progressive’ than any other except, perhaps, King Crimson. Their music was not rooted in Blues or jazz or folk – it seemingly appeared from the ether.

The ‘Vital’ album was the result of two shows at London’s Marquee Club – The Famous Charisma Label, the label that VDGG were signed to, occupied offices above the Marquee on London’s Wardour Street – at the end of a long year of recording the album ‘The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome’ and touring in the UK and Europe. By the time that the album was released, in July 1978, the band had split up over financial issues.

The lineup of the band for these shows was Peter Hammill (vocals, piano, guitars), Guy Evans (drums), Nic Potter (bass), and Graham Smith (violin) and Charles Dickie (cello). The concerts featured a guest appearance by former member David Jackson on saxophone and flute.

The word ‘Vital’ can have three meanings:
absolutely necessary; essential
full of energy; lively
and it could be argued that all three pertain to this album. 1978 was the height of the Punk years and these albums contained music that was so brutal and aggressive that it almost becomes ProgPunk.
Hammill’s vocals are harsh and angry and Graham Smith’s violin is played at a furious lick. Guy Evans attacks his drums as though he hates them and Nic Potter plays a massive bass line that holds the melody together while all the rest are flying off into different tangents, only to return to the core themes in perfect time.
Nothing here is left behind, the musicians giving their all without quarter.
The result is absolutely necessary, essential, full of energy, lively & fatal to the band.

‘Vital’ is as powerful today as it was in 1978 and will satisfy some and appal others.
The remastering is superb and brings out a truly Vital show.