Van der Graaf - Pawn Hearts (1971) (Remaster Edit 2005)
I berate myself for waiting ten odd years after I heard of these guys for buying an album. After twenty years of being an on-again, off-again prog fan (to be "prog" is an ambivalent phenomenon in this world!), I broke down and checked these guys out. Know what? There has never been an album like this by any band. This captures a band at the height of their powers and emotions. Peter Hammill sounds like he's going to crawl into your skin. David Jackson is the Rahsaan Roland Kirk of rock. Millions upon millions of people who think they know rock (including myself) have been missing out on something without comparison for years and years now (with the exception of the Italians and the French who propelled this to number one in their countries in the day).
If you are a progressive rock fan, you will lose your mind over this one. As good as anything King Crimson ever did, if not better. A whole different experience than Yes (the lyrics are about obsession instead of transcendence, the music fit-inducing instead of euphoria-inducing). They share the prolonged keyboard excursions of ELP, but Hammill & Co. actually do free jazz whereas ELP were a little too "polished" for that. Jethro Tull, Genesis, Hawkwind . . . all the bigger prog names. _Pawn Hearts_ surpasses most anything any of them ever did.
I've bought three other of their albums on an impulsive week-long spree. None of them live up to the manic magic of this one, but still VDGG will stick in your head no matter what you hear of them. They are completely their own entity...Z. A. Hanson
01. Lemmings (Including Cog) 11.38
02. Man-Erg 10.24
03. A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers (Medley) 23.12
04. Theme One [Original Version] [Bonus] 3.15
05. W [Alternate Take] [Bonus] 2.02
06. Angle Of Incidents [Previously Unreleased] [Bonus] 44.48
07. Ponker's Theme [Previously Unreleased] [Bonus] 1.28
08. Diminutions [Previously Unreleased] [Bonus] 5.59