Pawn Hearts

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Pawn Hearts
Studio album by Van der Graaf Generator
Released October 1971
Recorded July–September 1971 at Trident Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock
Length 45:08
Label Charisma
Producer John Anthony
Van der Graaf Generator chronology
H to He, Who Am the Only One
Pawn Hearts
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Mojo 4/5 stars[2]

Pawn Hearts is the fourth album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator, released in October 1971. The album reached number one on the Italian album charts.[3]

Differences between the European and North American releases[edit]

The original vinyl release in the United States and Canada (for example on Buddah Records) contained a fourth track, squeezed between "Lemmings" and "Man-Erg", which was the band's arrangement of the BBC Radio 1 opening and closing theme. This instrumental, called "Theme One", was originally composed by George Martin and released on record in 1967. In Europe, where Pawn Hearts only contained the three tracks, "Theme One" was released as a single in February 1972, with the song "W" as its b-side.

Later North American reissues used the European version of the album, without "Theme One". The 2005 remastered CD contains versions of both "W" and "Theme One" that both are different from the North American album and the European single.

Two of the released versions of "Theme One" appear to have the same backing tracks, but feature completely different overdubs and mixes. These can be found on the compilation CD First Generation – 1968–1971 and the remastered Pawn Hearts. There is also a third version (an entirely different studio take) of "Theme One" included on the 2003 various artists compilation CD The Best Prog Rock Album in the World... Ever.

The abandoned double-album concept[edit]

Pawn Hearts was originally conceived as a double album somewhat along the lines of Pink Floyd's album Ummagumma. The first half of this concept was the album as it came to be released, but the second half was to be divided between personal projects and live-in-studio versions of older Van der Graaf Generator songs like "Killer" and "Octopus".[4]

When the Van der Graaf Generator catalogue was remastered for reissue in 2005, several of the tracks from the missing half of the album were found and added as bonus tracks. A live, in-studio version of "Squid/Octopus" was added to the H to He, Who Am the Only One reissue, while the Pawn Hearts reissue contains three of the band members' personal projects, "Angle of Incidents", "Ponker's Theme", and "Diminutions", credited to Evans, Jackson, and Banton, respectively.


The title of the album resulted from a spoonerism by Jackson, who said one time: "I'll go down to the studio and dub on some more porn hearts", of course meaning to say 'horn parts'.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Peter Hammill, except where indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Lemmings (Including Cog)" – 11:37
  2. "Theme One" (George Martin) – 2:55
    • Only the original US and Canadian releases contained "Theme One".
  3. "Man-Erg" – 10:20

Side two[edit]

  1. "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" – 23:04, including
    • "Eyewitness" (2:25)
    • "Pictures/Lighthouse" (Hammill, Banton) (3:10)
    • "Eyewitness" (0:54)
    • "S.H.M." (1:57)
    • "Presence of the Night" (3:51)
    • "Kosmos Tours" (Evans) (1:17)
    • "(Custard's) Last Stand" (2:48)
    • "The Clot Thickens" (Hammill, Banton, Evans, Jackson) (2:51)
    • "Land's End (Sineline)" (Jackson) (2:01)
    • "We Go Now" (Jackson, Banton) (1:51)

Bonus tracks on 2005 reissue[edit]

  1. "Theme One" (original mix) (Martin) – 3:15
    • A different mix from the version on the US and Canadian LPs or the UK single.
  2. "W" (first version) – 5:04
    • The February 1972 single used the second version.
  3. "Angle of Incidents" (Evans) – 4:48
  4. "Ponker's Theme" (Jackson) – 1:28
  5. "Diminutions" (Banton) – 6:00


Additional personnel
  • Robert Fripp – electric guitar ("Man-Erg" [5:55–7:10] and "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" [8:10–10:20 and near the end of the song])


  1. ^ Eder, Bruce (2011). "Pawn Hearts – Van der Graaf Generator | AllMusic". Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Barnes, Mike (2005). "mojo_july05_pawnhearts.jpg (JPEG-Grafik, 200x703 Pixel)". Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the classics: English progressive rock and the counterculture. Oxford University Press US. p. 250. ISBN 0-19-509887-0.  Google Book Search. Retrieved on 10 June 2009
  4. ^ Christopulos, J., and Smart, P.: "Van der Graaf Generator – The Book", page 127. Phil and Jim publishers, 2005.
  5. ^ Christopulos, J., and Smart, P.: "Van der Graaf Generator – The Book", page 128. Phil and Jim publishers, 2005.

External links[edit]