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Thread: FEATURED CD - Van Der Graaf Generator : Pawn Hearts

  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Glenday View Post
    Interesting to hear so many say that this album grew on them over a long time period.
    This was my first VDGG album, and I actually didn't get it until the mid 1990's when I was discovering or rediscovering things on CD that I had missed. VDGG weren't really among the bands we listened to in the 70s/early 80s.

    On first listen, I thought the album was "OK." I liked Lemmings a lot, but was not as blown away by Man Erg and Plague. After two decades, the album has definitely grown on me, and I now like all the tracks, though Lemmings remains my favorite (and possibly my favorite by the band). I have to be in the right mood for Plague. It's not really good to just throw that on as background music, it demands attention or else much of the drama is lost. I'm still so-so on how that tracks resolves, it just seems a bit too contrived and sugary after what has come before (maybe "sugary" is the wrong word, but that a part/apart section just doesn't sit so well with me). But after getting my head around it, I appreciate this track, and the whole album, much more.

    Overall, Godbluff remains my favorite VDGG album, but I enjoy all their albums from H to He through Quiet Zone/Pleasure Dome.

    Bill

  2. #52
    A classic! My favorite VDGG. A high school bud went to the UK just after it was released. This was the ONE album I asked him to find and buy for me, which he did.

  3. #53
    False Number 9 Pr33t's Avatar
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    I can't say much more than has already been said - this is easily one of the best albums ever recorded. It's been a personal favorite of mine since I first got into prog - probably one of the first albums I associated as Prog after starting with Selling England by the Pound (this was part of a trio of CDs I borrowed from the above mentioned reviewer Greg Northrup, funny enough, along with Banco - Darwin! and UK - Danger Money). Hasn't left the top 5-10 of my favorites ever since.

  4. #54
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Absolutely amazing album and I can't really add anything to all the nicely stated superlatives that have already been lavished upon this album in this thread so I won't try to. Life changing-ly profound music. Oh shit...
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

  5. #55
    Member WytchCrypt's Avatar
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    Simply put, one of my top 5 fave prog albums of all time.
    I'm using the chicken to measure it...

  6. #56
    Not a huge fan. I like it but not a lot of great composing on this album imo.
    Lighthouse keepers has a similar structure to the song 2112. Starts off well but then there's 10-15 minutes of pretty bland composition. Lighthouse ends well though
    Last edited by PROGMONSTER; 04-04-2014 at 08:26 PM.

  7. #57
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    You gotta have a sense of humour to "get" VDGG. I don't remember how I got into them but I think someone kept gushing about them on some other message board and I was still in my exploratory phase around 2000 or so. I randomly picked Pawn Hearts. I really liked it. It was a bit unsettling at first but I really liked the whole darkness of it. I loved the organ and saxaphone, and really liked Peter Hammil's singing. Eventually I got World Record and Still Life and really liked those too. I finally got "Godbluff" about a year or two ago. Great prog. Love it.

  8. #58
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    It took me a long time to "get" this band. It just seemed a discordant mess for a long period. It eventually started to grow on me via King Crimson and Henry Cow. Godbluff is probably my favorite these days but this ones probably second.
    Ian

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  9. #59
    Member emperorken's Avatar
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    I find the music mundane and Hammill's vocals intolerable.

  10. #60
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Tiresias View Post
    Unlistenable.
    Let's just say that you have to be in the mood for this... This goes for almost all VdGG, but especially for this one

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    Well I suppose I'm just a boy then.

    VDGG - tried them back in the seventies when I was still at school and desperately trying to hoover up everything prog-related. Tried them on-and-off over all the intervening years. Am trying them right now, listening to the Youtube clip above...

    I guess I just have to accept that I'm never going to like them. They are too discordant. I hate Peter Hammil's voice and style of singing. I don't like the drumming. The songs are tuneless....

    Not for me, I'm afraid.
    Hammill's voice is definitely an acquired taste... Took ma about two decades to get it.... until I saw him live in a small Brussels club in the early 90's... It kind of clicked, but even after that, it wasn't a smooth ride...I still had to visualise what Jaxon did with his horn...and when I saw the Godbluff Live in Belgium, I finally got it


    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Genesis, Yes, Tull, Floyd and Camel were all easily swallowed, ELP and KCrimson took some effort. There was still a long way from there to Soft Machine, Egg, Hatfield, Gilgamesh, Henry Cow, Magma et al. But in the middle somewhere, I got on to Gentle Giant and VdGG. These bands were "symphonic rock" yet also profoundly transgressive - as in the dreaded "avant-garde".

    I still love them, and this album is a milestone.
    Well, I took a fairly similar path, but to be honest both GG and VdGG clicked in after the JR/F stuff and even the Avant/RIO

    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post

    The handful of Hammill solo releases that fall in between Pawn Hearts and the Godbluff reformation are vital, too. Both those PH and the VDGG albums of the day are among my very favourite albums.
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    I'm not sure what was going on in Britain by this time, though. Nothing they did after 'The Least We Can Do...' charted here in the 70s, extraordinary.
    The Least is still my fave along with Godbluff (the first one to click with me). the three (four actually with Nadir) Hammill solo albums could make an excellent VdGG album (maybe one and a half) VdGG opus

    PH should've been one of my fave, but if Plague hits the spot everytime, I must say that Man Erg and Lemmings aren't doing the same systematically.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Glenday View Post
    Interesting to hear so many say that this album grew on them over a long time period.
    This is valid for most of VdGG's oeuvre, I think.... they're an cquired taste for most of us... I think that very few (though there is likely a concentration of these exception on this board) actually got it instantly on the first few listens, especially not Pawn Heart
    Last edited by Trane; 04-05-2014 at 05:26 AM.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  11. #61
    I'm glad we still have the BBC in the UK.

    Stuart Maconie played all three tracks, in full, last Sunday 30th March on his Freak Zone show on BBC 6 Music. The show runs from 20:00 to 22:00 each and every Sunday, and can be streamed at:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0072l4x

    I was one of those seduced by the 2005 remaster of 'Pawn Hearts', but I found it tiresome during 'Plague'. The quiet bits were too loud. I dug out my old Virgin CD, and I would recommend that as the best digital version of this release. The DR's are telling:
    http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/li...um=pawn+hearts

    Wonderful album.

  12. #62
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I played Pawn Hearts and Godbluff last night on headphones (whilst ). Jeezuz Pawn Hearts is a lot more complex than I thought it was. Every second of this album is brilliant from beginning to end. Godbluff is great but PH is much better to me. I still don't have "H To He." I'll order it online at some point.

  13. #63
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    I still don't have "H To He." I'll order it online at some point.
    Another must-have IMO, along with The Least We Can Do..., which was the first one I ever heard and instantly fell in love with the music. Both albums were stepping stones to Pawn Hearts, but valuable in their own ways, and entirely necessary for the classic VDGG tracks like "Darkness", "Refugees", "Killer", and "After The Flood". Man, I'm going to listen to both of those today.

    And let me just say again not to overlook those Hammill albums too, particularly Silent Corner And The Empty Stage and In Camera. Over is another favourite of mine, but many wouldn't include it alongside those greats (at times it's my very favourite however). Still others will include Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night, which is good, but to me has never quite reached the heights of those others.
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  14. #64
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    The Least We Can Do...
    I have that one too. It's actually a CDr copy that I got in a trade years ago. I like it a lot too.

    BTW, I really don't hear any guitar on Pawn Hearts. I know Robert Fripp gets a credit on it but I really don't hear it. Or maybe I'm hearing it but it just doesn't sound like guitar. I've read a lot of negative reviews about the remasters over the years but I really think the only problem I have with PH is the weak production. It's a very dynamic album, with lots of peaks and valleys but you reall have to crank it up to hear what's going on. The release of Godbluff that I have is a remaster with a couple of bonus tracks, and I think it sounds fine. Anyway, to me what makes this band great is the organ, sax, and Peter Hammill.

  15. #65
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    BTW, I didn't have any trouble with VDGG when I first heard Pawn Hearts. It was kinda dark and creepy at first but when I heard those keys, the sax, and Peter's vocals all mixed into all those twists and turns I really loved it. By then I was already heavy into the big, important epics of Yes, Genesis, ELP, Tull, etc. The other group I loved instantly was Gentle Giant.

    yeah I think the whole idea of "difficulty" is often misunderstood. ...........you don't really need to analyze it to understand what the appeal is.
    I agree with this. I can be analytical about a lot of things but I don't over analize music. I take it at face value. I'm not looking for answers, or meaning in it. I enjoy it or I don't. I think for most that don't like VDGG the reason seems to be Peter's vocals. Vocals are a deal breaker. I have some albums that I barely listen to because of the lead vocal. The music's great. Everything surrounding it is great but the vocals ruin what could be a great listening experience.

  16. #66
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    BTW, I really don't hear any guitar on Pawn Hearts. I know Robert Fripp gets a credit on it but I really don't hear it. Or maybe I'm hearing it but it just doesn't sound like guitar.
    The most noticeable Fripp guitar is in the final section of "Lighthouse Keepers".
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  17. #67
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    About 22 years ago I was record shopping in Haight-Ashbury and they were playing World Record from start to finish and I really dug that album. Still don't own it though.

  18. #68
    I prefer the vocals from Peter Hammill over Jon Anderson.

  19. #69
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I prefer the vocals from Peter Hammill over Jon Anderson.
    Me too!! Glad I'm not the only one.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

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  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by emperorken View Post
    I find the music mundane.
    Not possible.


    Quote Originally Posted by emperorken View Post
    I find Hammill's vocals intolerable.
    Possible.



    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    The most noticeable Fripp guitar is in the final section of "Lighthouse Keepers".
    No, that's Banton playing the leads with fuzz/distorted organ sounds on We Go Now. Look for Fripp on the "Alone, alone, the ghosts all call" section. There's some doodling there that's way beyond Hammill's ability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I prefer the vocals from Peter Hammill over Jon Anderson.
    Me too, by a million miles.

  21. #71
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Fripp's "solo" on "The Emperor in His War Room" is one of his best moments....
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  22. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    The most noticeable Fripp guitar is in the final section of "Lighthouse Keepers".
    I hope someone else here will back me up on this, but I believe that bit on "We Go Now" is Hugh Banton on his modified organ and is not Fripp on guitar.

  23. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by nsmith1002 View Post
    I hope someone else here will back me up on this, but I believe that bit on "We Go Now" is Hugh Banton on his modified organ and is not Fripp on guitar.
    Already did, post #70 ;-)

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I prefer the vocals from Peter Hammill over Jon Anderson.
    Interesting! I couldn't ever say that's true for myself, but I enjoy them both, I think Anderson would win out for me although Hammill is mind-blowing, original and fantastic in his own very individual way. I guess maybe Hammill is like "the dark" and Anderson is like "the light" but that's over-simplifying it. I also actually like when Hammill sings "nice" as on songs like "Refugees" and when Anderson sings with some darkness/grit as on "Gates of Delirium" too. I dunno, it's tricky with singers, everybody differs. They're both pretty great for me.
    Last edited by Ken Baird; 04-05-2014 at 11:14 AM.

  25. #75
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Jon Anderson is too 'airy-fairy' for me, the reason why I never warmed up to Yes. He's too sweet, almost sickening. Give me Hammill's doominess any day.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

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