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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

Lark the Starless
4 stars Van Der Graaf Generator's fourth offering to the world is highly regarded by many as one of progressive rock's most popular and esteemed albums. I am in that majority as well, as I do believe this is one of the pinnacles of VDGG's discography. An exquisite album filled with enough raw emotion and power to stir one's soul, "Pawn Hearts" is certainly not for the faint of heart, as it will require some patience and an open mind (and ears).

"Lemmings" starts things off with some gentle guitar strumming and then shifts into a one-of-a-kind amalgam, blending Hammill's ranging voice with the rest of the band's superb musicianship. The song's last minute is a bit weak, with features some flute doodling from Jackson, making it the weakest track on the album, but by no means a bad one.

"Man-Erg" takes "Pawn Hearts" to a completely different level than "Lemmings". Drenched with heavy sax riffs courtesy of Jackson and Hammill wailing like a madman, the result is a truly intoxicating track, heavier than any metal song. The density of "Man-Erg", with the heavy sax, ominous keyboards, banging drums, and the otherworldly voice of Hammill, is absolutely astonishing, making for one incredible song.

We arrive to the epic "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". So many things I could say about this 23 minute track but at the risk of sounding wordy, I will keep things short. Starting off eerie and then taking off into a roller coaster of feelings, "A Plague..." keeps the listener on edge throughout its duration, instilling fear and wonder in the mind. Truly, one of the more revered tracks in prog.

in addition, 5 bonus tracks accompany the album, of which only 3 are quite good. These tracks are "Theme One" (apparently a George Martin composition), "W" , and "Ponker's Theme". The other two, "Angle of Incidents" and "Diminutions" are okay, but do not match up with the 3 better songs. If you get the chance of obtaining the 2005 reissue, I would recommend to do so.

I find myself in a rather difficult position. I am stuck between awarding "Pawn Hearts" 4 or 5 stars. If it were possible, I would most likely rate it 4.5 stars. In this case, I'll rate it 4 stars, as there are minor flaws that at times make the listening experience less than pleasant.

It is still an excellent edition. Not to be missed.

1. "Lemmings" - 8.5/10

2. "Man-Erg" - 9/10

3. "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" - 9/10

26.5/3 = 88.3% = 4(+) stars

Lark the Starless | 4/5 |


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