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

PAWN HEARTS

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.43 | 2169 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
4 stars "The voice"

In the second part of the Seventies I was part of a small but fanatic group of symphomaniacs, we had discovered Genesis, ELP, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Camel, and we wanted more. One day a member of that group was very willing to play Pawn Hearts from VDGG for us. For most of us the music evoked very mixed feelings: interesting but quirky, and the Peter Hamill vocals were not very much appreciated. That member and one other became huge fans of Peter Hamill, bought his solo albums and attended all his concerts. The other lost their hope for VDGG, and focussed on less quirky prog, and prog with a less expressive singer. Today, more than 40 years later, I decided to listen to that album again. I found it on the Internet and also stumbled on a lot of euphoric quotes from fans, under the section where you could click on listening to the entire album. One emotional example of those quotes: "Why isn't Peter Hammil as well known and loved as Bowie and Gabriel? It's a mystery."

During my first listening session today I come to the conclusion that the varied, adventurous but also quirky unique VDGG prog must have influenced a lot of early Italian bands, like Il Balletto Di Bronzo and Osanna. The compositions alternate between symphonic rock and avant-garde, with lots of interesting musical ideas, wonderful work on keyboards (from sensitive piano to bombastic Hammond), powerful and inventive guitar play, and of course the unique Peter Hammill vocals. To me he sounds like a vocal acrobate, the one moment tender, the other moment delivering screamy or theatrical outbursts, very expressive. The quirky factor of VDGG and the sometimes too expressive vocals by Peter Hammill are due to the fact that I have not become a VDGG fan, and I never will be. I simply don't feel at ease with their music, and Hamill his voice (like a nervous Bowie as I stated in an earlier review). So it is interesting or VDGG is a band to recommend when progheads are discovering the amazing and varied world of the progressive rock. In comparison with 40 years ago now there is the extended world of the Internet. There you can easily find your way to prog when you stumble upon the legendary and known names, while reading reviews on websites like Prog Archives, good luck with your prog quest.

P.s.: Apart from my critical notes, I consider this album as a well deserved 4 star effort. But not at the masterpiece level of CTTE from Yes, Foxtrot from Genesis, the first ELP, Red from King Crimson, Mirage from Camel, or The Wall from Pink Floyd.

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |

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