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Pawn Hearts [VINYL]

Van Der Graaf Generator Vinyl
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
Price: 26.62 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Pawn Hearts [VINYL] + The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other + H To He Who Am The Only One
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Product Features

  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

Product details

  • Vinyl (14 Feb 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4 Men With Beards
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 234,258 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best progressive rock album ever? 19 Feb 2006
Format:Audio CD
Progressive rock is, or was, by definition pushing the boundaries of what could be done with music, and VdGG were one of the pushiest. With this album, they probably reached their peak - the albums previous to this were stepping stones toowards this complete album; the later albums are less radical musical statements.
All three tracks on this album are introspective pieces about aspects of the human condition, and I cannot think of any singer/song-writer who looks deeper into the depths of a human soul than Hammill.
Many people, including Hammill himself, seem to consider Lemmings as the least good track here, even a disappointment; for me it is a very powerful song, at first attacking the warlike nature of humans with venom, then finally mellowing into a plea to save ourselves from ourselves.
Man-erg takes the introspection to an individual level, and is a simple theme. We are all human, no more, no less, and it is this simplicity that makes the song so appealing. Yet again, as with Lemmings, the song ends on a somewhat optimistic note, that of acceptance of our condition. Or is that a pessimistic note?
And so to A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers: what can be said? Is this a tale of madness? A tale of us all? Is it even a tale about a lighthouse keeper? Maybe all of these. Whichever, it is an entrancing piece that is the essence of the album, and, consequently, the essence of Van der Graaf Generator. Whilst seeming to take us through the innermost thoughts of a terminal depressive, paradoxically it can be heard as an uplifting and moving song. However it is received by the listener, it is the central track of any VdGG collection.
So to answer the initial question: is this the best progressive rock album ever? Well, for me, there is no question about the answer - absolutely yes.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark classic of English Progressive Rock 2 Jun 2005
By Dr. D. B. Sillars VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
The recently rejuvenated VDGG has met with unparalled interest and critical zeal. All the daily newspapers seem to have run articles on them and their place in the history of progressive rock. Whether this is a reflection on the popularity of all things prog today, or the media trying to latch on to an 'acceptable' example of the genre from the 'golden age' in light of the recent progginess of acts ranging from Radiohead to The Mars Volta is open to conjecture. I don't think even in their heyday did VDGG develop such mainstream interest. But it is more than warranted as can be seen from this first batch of back catalogue remasters which peaks here with "Pawn Hearts". This album is without doubt a classic of progressive rock in its purest sense. Nothing else at the time sounded like VDGG. Evolved around the musical vision of Peter Hammill, the band went solidly against the grain of prettiness and positivism that pervaded a lot of post-hippie prog rock. Theses guys were making gloomy, brooding soundtracks to the darkest recesses of our psyche. With Hugh Banton's gothic keyboards and David Jacksons squalling saxes, their chamber rock was declamatory and full of foreboding.
"Pawn Hearts" is made up of 3 monumental tracks; "Lemmings", "Man Erg" and the hugely epic "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". For me, "Man Erg" is one of my favourite VDGG pieces. Lyrically this is quintessential Hammill. He doesn't write basic songs about the usual states of love, happiness and sadness, here he digs much deeper and ruminates about our innermost motivations and one that strikes such a singular and in some ways disquieting chord. No other lyricist expounds so eloquently or bares his wounds so openly or deeply!
Musically this album is VDGG at their most complex.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's Steven Wilson when you need him most? 21 April 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The music here is five-star all the way, a classic of its era. Sadly the current CD edition is little more than adequate in the sound stakes. If ever an album needed the remix/remaster magic of a Steven Wilson it's this one. After hearing what he's done for King Crimson and Aqualung can someone out there give him the tapes for PH and let us hear this in a form that suits its stature?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kipper - lives inside me 11 Jun 2006
Format:Audio CD
... as we used to hear it in those long gone days.

There was nothing quite like Van Der Graaf. Capable of the most beautiful tunes, the music was nonetheless angular and spiky, and the nearest prog rock ever got to becoming genuinely frightening. The musicianship is just incredible, as it was for the other Big Guys, Yes, Genesis, Tull and so on - but the difference between now and then is that they could do it on stage, night after night, never the same, always top class.

This record is another of Peter Hammill's explorations of what makes humankind tick, and as with many concept LPs there are actully half a dozen songs here. The Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (as we knew it) features some of the best organ playing of all time (from Hugh Banton who later went on to join forgotten genius Kenny Elliott in Secondhand/Seventh Wave - see my reviews)and Man-erg feautures some of the best sax ever from David Jackson. Hammill's extraordinary voice is one of the most expressive ever in the genre, and anyone who heard his 600 solo albums will know that he explores these themes aagian and again.

I shared a stage with this lot once, in Bournemouth of all places, and they were just hypnotically good, and the nicest guys ever. They were only kids really when they created this masterpiece. Absolutely unrepeatable brilliance

One thing that is bloody annoying - when ALTERNATIVE versions are labelled as ALTERNATE versions. All the rock critics do it now .... if you repeat a lie often enough...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Ah British Prog!
Had a friend in the 70's who loved Van Der Graff. I was more a Yes man but this album is sweet. I decided to download it and highly recommend it to lovers of classic prog.
Published 13 months ago by Gordon Sim
4.0 out of 5 stars The Clot Thickens
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. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lord Anon
5.0 out of 5 stars ...but then his eyes will rise and stare through mine....
The fate of the human race,the different personas within us and isolation- three awesome topics delivered in true schizophrenic style both musically and lyrically by Hammill the... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Zomby Woof
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Keep Replaying It
A good friend of mine (we're still going to VDGG concerts together) lent me this at school. I'd heard bits of H To He before but this was the first time I'd heard a VDGG album in... Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by S. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets
I just rediscovered this 35 years after wearing out my original vinyl album, and to my amazement it's lost nothing of it's originality and power. Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2011 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Generated Prog
Now here is a good almost great Prog Album, full of welling sounds, Prog rifts by the score, wailing keyboards et al, definitely worth a listen or two and then some.
Published on 20 Oct 2011 by Manoerwar
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious and superb
Pawn Hearts is one of the best records I have ever listened to. There was a period when I would play it all the time I remember taking it to college during a music lesson. Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2011 by Robin Emmerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence distilled
Pawn Hearts is without doubt the best progressive album ever made.
Close calls from Lizard by King Crimson and Close to the edge by Yes.
There is no comparison. Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by M. D. Hewitt
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect music from the perfetc lyricist
I first listened to this album on the 23rd of December 1978, at midnight, the lights of the living room turned off, alone at home (can't remember why my parents were still out, but... Read more
Published on 5 May 2011 by mitd2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Earth moving....but not in a comforting way.
It's stating a fact, isn't it, saying that `progressive' implies movement? Where a lot of the bands of the `progressive' rock persuasion viewed the term only as an excuse for... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2010 by N. Jones
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