Pawn Hearts

Artist: Van Der Graaf Generator
Label: Charisma
Catalog#: CAS 1051
Format: Vinyl
Country: United States
Released: 1971-10
A1 Lemmings (Including COG) 11:36
A2 Theme One 2:55
A3 Man-Erg 10:20
B1a Eyewitness  
B1b Pictures / Lighthouse  
B1c Eyewitness  
B1e S. H. M.  
B1f Presence Of The Night  
B1g Kosmos Tours  
B1h (Custard's) Last Stand  
B1i The Clot Thickens  
B1j Land's End (Sineline)  
B1k We Go Now  

Drums, Timpani, Percussion, Piano - Guy Evans
Guitar - Robert Fripp
Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Electric Piano, Piano - Peter Hammill
Organ [Hammond], Organ [Farfisa], Synthesizer [Arp], Bass, Vocals, Effects [Bass Pedal], Electronics [Psychedelic Razor] - Hugh Banton
Photography - Keith Morris
Producer - John Anthony
Saxophone [Tenor], Saxophone [Alto], Saxophone [Soprano], Flute, Vocals - David Jackson


Recorded at Trident Studios, London W.1. July through September 1971

Strawberry Bricks Entry: 
Pawn Hearts would be the final statement of Van der Graaf Generator’s “first generation,” and they ended it with a masterpiece. The album’s first side contains “Lemmings (Including COG)” and “Man-Erg,” the latter being the only number that was previously road tested before the recording session. Both are full of VdGG mechanics: the relative calm of “Man-Erg” pierced by Hugh Banton’s hammering organ, while “Lemmings” plunges into even darker imagery, both lyrically and sonically. Initial plans for the album called for a double, with a live side and solo numbers written by Banton, David Jackson and Guy Evans (some of this was recorded and left in the vaults) to offset Peter Hammill’s “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers,” which encompasses the entire second side. Per Hammill, it was written primarily “on the back of the tour bus,” and offers the epic life-struggle saga. Dense and thematic, the composition cruises along like a ship through unknown waters: one moment peaceful, the next in a sonic maelstrom. The band is in top form throughout, with Banton adding ARP and Mellotron to his armory. VdGG never sounded better on record. It’s also a prime example of what could be achieved in a recording studio and with a razor blade, as the piece was recorded minutes at a time. The spry “Theme One,” title music written by George Martin for the BBC, was included on the US release of the album. Again, despite constant touring, the album failed to chart in the UK. But in 1972 VdGG would tour Italy three times, where the album would reach No. 1. Still, by the end of the year, frictions with Charisma came to a head; and the band, penniless, called it a day. Hammill would embark on a solo career; he quickly recorded three solo albums, most with contributions from the other VdGG members, before eventually reforming the band in late 1974.
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