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


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 1961 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
1 stars Strange how a band that was, in the 70s, generally regarded as being the extremely poor relation of bands like Genesis, Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant and the like seems to have acquired a new generation of admirers, judging by the reviews on this site. So, prepared to give them another go (could I have missed something back then?), I borrowed this album from the only person I know who has it. And the first thing that struck me was how good a condition the vinyl was in - yeah, well, I don't like it much so I never play it was the owner's response.

And I can see why. Some bands can do epics and keep them interesting by developing ideas and themes. Some can generate emotion from the beauty of their playing or their lyrics. This band can do neither. All the 3 tracks contain a few interesting ideas but the band never seem to know what to do with them and all either go on far too long or lose the plot. The other problem is that Hamill can't sing without trying sometimes sounding like a tomcat being neutered; he constantly goes out of pitch trying to extract the last drop of emotion and it irritates beyond belief. Add to this the lack of a bass player, Banton substituting with his organ pedals to some extent, and the lack of a recognisable lead guitar, and this isn't going to appeal to me. Jackson's sax work is so far off the wall at times I find it hard to accept that this is the same instrument which graces albums by Solution and many other bands with such distinction. Hugh Banton is a great organist who salvages some parts by his talent and Guy Evans drives the band along in the absence of a bass player, but the whole is so wrist-slashingly dark and depressing that I suspect the luckiest people are those who have never had 45 minutes of their life wasted by listening to this garbage.

Lemmings epitomises what I don't like about the band; discordant, doomy music, out of tune singing and screaming (Hamill persistently goes for high notes and slips down in pitch at the last split second which sounds absolutely horrendous). It has few interesting ideas and goes nowhere very slowly over a long, boring 11 minutes.

Man Erg nearly fooled me; the first couple of minutes have an epic melodic quality with some nice keyboards and Hamill singing properly but then it degenerates into a complete mess of discordant saxes, keyboards and Hamill's voice doing gymnastics out of tune.

A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers is a whole side epic which must be the most overrated track in history. Supper's Ready, Echoes and Close to the Edge it is not. It runs around like a headless chicken with no clear direction or purpose; there are a few, brief moments of quality but some parts are so discordant and grating they are downright painful.

No, I didn't miss anything. There can be no other rating for this than the lowest. I would give it zero if I could. Avoid like the plague (of Lighthouse Keepers).

Hercules | 1/5 |


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