The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (Feb 1970)

"We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" (John Minton)
The Least We Can Do cover The Least We Can Do cover
Back Cover Front Cover
(2005 re-master)
Track List
1. Darkness (11/11)
(Kensington Court, 1968)
2. Refugees
(Kensington Court, 1969)
3. White Hammer
(Kensington Court/Derby, 1969)
4. Whatever would Robert have said
(Fawley Road, 1970)
5. Out of my Book
(Fawley Road, 1969)
6. After the Flood
(Fawley Road, 1969)
7. Boat of Millions of Years (2005 re-master only)
(Derby, 1967)
8. Refugees (Single version - 2005 re-master only)
(Kensington Court, 1969)
(Follow links for lyrics - use your BACK button to return here)
The Least We Can Do Inner cover The Least We Can Do Inner cover
Inside Cover (L) Inside Cover (R)


Valuations by Record Collector:
CAS1007 A/B £50/£30
CAS1007 A+G/B+G £35/£18
article article

Darkness (11/11) - "A song of numbers: although I am no numerologist, the circumstances of writing this highly instinctual song dictated its form and direction.
It was composed on the night of 11th November, 1968, Remembrance Day, by chance. Some years before I wrote a novel which purported (with devastating failure) to be an Icelandic saga; on re-reading it, some time after finishing these lyrics, I was struck by the opening sentence: 'It was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.' November is, of course, the month of Scorpio, under which sign I was born, and my life number is 11. It was, I suppose, inevitable that a song about fate should be wrought amid these conjunctions.
To this day I do not know how Hereward the Wake came to be involved."

Whatever Would Robert Have Said? - "Robert is R.J. Van der Graaf of M.I.T., although the relevance of this to the song escapes me, as do the circumstances of writing it, which is extremely unusual. It is as though it arrived one day without any instigation on my part, and no memory of my having worked on it. I know that this sounds both unlikely and nigh-mystical, but perhaps it is more than appropriate when related to the nature of the song."

Out of my Book - "This song makes reference to an unfortunate school experience, the allocation at the start of term of a maths text book in which the answers to exercises are absent. Although working from an answer to a question is a dishonest way of approaching a scientific, as an emotional, problem it is disturbing to know that there is no 'escape clause', and that the only way one can arrive at an answer is by logic. In such an illogical emotional area as the context of this song, the disturbance itself can seem greater than the disturbing factor, the question."

- Peter Hammill, from Killers, Angels, Refugees (1974)

Poster Poster
You could also request a poster from Charisma which contained the lyrics and the following:

"I'm supposed to be writing this anonymously because we thought that maybe it wouldn't look too cool to have one of the band write the sleeve-notes; I'm writing it because we felt it was important that whoever wrote the notes knew what it was all about.....however, it doesn't really matter, I'm not going to speak for the music, I couldn't do so if I tried.....nothing I said about it could make you like it more, or convince you that this is an album which ought to be in your collection. In order to decide those things, you'll just have to listen.

But some warnings:
Don't listen when you're hustling, because it won't get in your head. Don't listen when you're angry, because you'll smash something. Don't listen when you're depressed, because you'll get more so. Don't listen with any preoccupations, because you'll blow it. And if you're a perpetually angry, depressed hustler with set ideas, don't bother, it wasn't meant for you in the first place.

Now something about the band: Guy, Hugh and myself remain from the original four-piece Van der Graaf which broke up in July '69. We re-formed in October, with the addition of Nic and Dave, both of whom we had known for some time previously. We've had a lot of hassles and set-backs since getting together again, but we've survived, thanks to a lot of perserverence and some perversity. Thank you to all those who've helped us; those who gave us understanding, comfort, advice, generosity and love when we needed them most.....there are many, and the album belongs to them as much as us.

I realise that I haven't really said anything at all.....Well, it's the last day of an old decade; tomorrow we can start anew.....I'm really only waving, a smile on my face and one tentative tear standing ready to fall....."
"We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" (John Minton).

Written off the top of my head, 31.12.69.

"'Fusion' is a very fashionable word in music at the moment; on every side we have 'fusions' of jazz and rock, poetry and jazz, blues and rock. Each of these conjunctions presupposes in the mucicians involved a conceptualized idea of what each of the musical forms is - they know what jazz is, what blues is, what poetry is, and so often as not the resulting music consists of two or more rigid and separate concepts patched together by clever continuity. Sooner or later somebody had to make a record that showed that jazz, poetry and all other forms are really one thing - the best way a person has of expressing the way he feels at the time. I think this is the record, and it is all the rarer because you have no way of guaranteeing that five different people can sustain a movement in the same emotional and technical direction for the period of time it takes to put an album on tape. When it does happen the record comes from the subconscious, not from the personality of any one of its members. In this case it's rather macabre, a bit nasty, and the strongest thing I've heard in a long time."


Disc Review
NME article
"Fantastic! Marvellous!
Wonderful! Incredible!"

Melody Maker - "This is one of those rare and precious albums..."

Disc and Music Echo
"Gloomy sound"
MM article Germany 1984
MM articleMM article
MM advert
MM advertMM advert
The album was re-released in the UK sometime later in the 70's with a single sleeve. The sleeve-notes originally on the inside of the gatefold cover were super-imposed on the reverse.


The album was released in the USA with a different cover:-


(This was the late Jamie Fogg's promotional copy)

Image Image
A single-sided promo.
Refugees was released as a single with B side "The Boat of a Million Years", previously unreleased but later to appear on 68-71, as "The Boat of Millions of Years" (that's at least a million more years!).
The single version of Refugees is different to the album version.
Release news in NME, 18th April 1970 Underground Discs in NME, 25th April 1970



Here's a copy of a Refugees acetate, dated 16th March 1970.

The Refugees single - "This has a similar appeal to 'Whiter Shade of Pale' - excellent".
According to a piece that appeared in MOJO magazine in May 2002, "Susie" is the actress Susan Penhaligon.
"For six months I shared a flat with Mike and Susie, who are among my oldest friends. When the time for departure came, I was washed with the melancholia which normally attends moving from 'home' and the physical memories it retains, heightened in this instance by the knowledge that, from being the closest of triads, we were committing ourselves to a separation in which months could easily slide into years. In this knowledge, the last vestiges of hope lay only in a future Utopia and re-joining of the hands.
In the writing, however, the song developed a life of its own (as is always the best way), and the hope becomes much more than that for reunion with my friends. We are all refugees, and there is no home but hope."

- Peter Hammill from Killers, Angels, Refugees (1974)


The Cassette Tape

The Least We Can Do promo cover The Least We Can Do 2005 The Least We Can Do 2005
Re-mastered album released on May 30th 2005 with bonus tracks

Prog mag Prog mag Prog mag Prog mag
Prog magazine #29 - Summer 2012
(Thanks to Douglas Fergus for the scans)

Back to 68-71HomeLivelist