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Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1953 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars Hot off the heels of H to He, VDGG's profile was rising even as their accounts were falling. Europe, particularly Italy, couldn't get enough of them and their beyond weird sax-driven music. Robert Fripp returns to lend his unique brand of electric guitar to Hammil's acoustic, and Peter steps up his already considerable lyrical game for some of the deepest words in rock. Evans and Banton weigh things down while David Jackson displays his sax skills.

"Lemmings" opens the album with a ten minute journey with acoustic and flutes, then gradually progresses with increasing volume as Banton's evil hammond and Evan's tight percussion struggle be heard over Hammil's loud vocals. The listener is bombarded with odd melodies, yet this is the most accessible track on the album. "Man-Erg" ups the ante with a similar opening before become even louder and darker than Lemmings. The highlight, however, is the side-long epic A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers. This song is one of the densest, most inaccessible pieces ever written, yet when it clicks, it is an indisputable masterpiece. The alternate soft/heavy shown on the first two songs is perfected here, with near silent moments giving way to cacophonous rock with screamed vocals.

The remastered edition has 5 bonus tracks, none of which are essential "lost dogs," but they are interesting. The weird cover of BBC's Theme One shows the lighter side of the band. The rest are short, jazzy interludes that don't warrant repeat listens.

Newcomers to VDGG should steer clear of this behemoth. It takes a certain amount of discipline to understand this record, and it takes several listens to fully comprehend. To call this album challenging is an understatement. The only real flaw here is the iffy production, which hasn't been eradicated by the remaster. However, Pawn Hearts is Van Der Graaf Generator's peak, and it stands as a classic of progressive rock.

Grade: A

1800iareyay | 5/5 |


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