Pawn Hearts (1971)
Pawn Hearts cover Pawn Hearts cover
Back Cover Front Cover
Pawn Hearts label Pawn Hearts label
(2005 re-master) (2021 re-master)

Insert with lyrics

"...I'm getting Charisma to send you a copy of the Pawn Hearts lyric sheet, there was meant to be one with each album, but I only remembered to check that they were getting it all together at the last minute, and they weren't, so some went out without..."
- Peter Hammill in a letter to Jem Shotts, 21st February 1972
Track list
1. Lemmings (including COG)
1a. Theme One (US only)
2. Man-Erg
3. A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers
   a. Eyewitness
   b. Pictures/Lighthouse
   c. Eyewitness
   d. S.H.M.
   e. Presence of the Night
   f. Kosmos Tours
   g. (Custard's) Last Stand
   h. The Clot Thickens
   i. Land's End (Sineline)
   j. We Go Now
On the 2005 re-master only:
4. Theme One (original mix)
5. w
6. Angle of Incidents
7. Ponker's Theme
8. Diminutions
(Follow links for lyrics - use your BACK button to return here)

American label  American label

American label
The American version contained "Theme One"

American promo  American promo
American Promo

Canadian label  Canadian label
Buddah Records Canada

Brazil  Brazil
Brazilian Release

Spanish promo  Spanish promo
Spanish promo  Spanish promo
Spanish Promo (1972)

Ricardo Odriozola Ricardo Odriozola, in collaboration with Mark Graham, has written the ultimate "Musical Guide to Pawn Hearts". Ricardo, a professional musician who works at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, Norway launched the guide at a "Pawn Hearts Day" that was organised by the "Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator Study Group" in Guastalla, Italy over the weekend of 6th and 7th October 2007.

Image Paolo Carnelli's English version of his book about Pawn Hearts can be found by clicking on the image.

The Trident Studios Man-Erg Tape

Sleeve Notes

Inner sleeve
Inner Sleeve

(This picture was taken at Luxford House, Crowborough, Surrey. There is a photograph of the house, taken in 2005, in The Book.)

"Nohjndijcrackycracky was an appalling misprint for Nohjnohjcrackycracky, being a catchphrase for our then roadies, Nohj and Cracky, two sons of the Leek who have since left real mystery!!!"

"The picture inside was completely spontaneous (in form!) - originally we'd intended a picture of us playing Crowborough tennis, a VdGG invention involving the table we're standing on and the football under Dave's arm... I won't try to explain the rules, as it's quite complicated, but a very energetic game of skill!! So we took lots of shots of that (all of which are equally weird, and some of which may yet be used) and then had a few frames left, so got into the psychedelic Nazi's trip! When we saw the effect, the pose, infra red film and all, we instantly overcame any inhibitions about freaking people, and knew it HAD to be that! The black shirts and yellow ties, incidentally, are not as directly connected to it as might be thought... they arose from conversations in the making of PH, in which we decided that we were going so far out inside (you can take that any way you want, musically, emotionally, psychically), that all we could do was have a "blackshirts" society to denote our outsanity. It's a bit of a self-defeating concept, but only 1/4 serious!! So for this cover, this idea came back! I hope all that makes some sense, but it's difficult, because people know us through the music, yet this is only peripherally in the music, and has more to do with the unrealities in which we live....(guarded) explanations in song on the next album, I hope!!"
- Peter Hammill in a letter to Jem Shotts, 21st February 1972

"The pose was in ironic reference to a statue in Kaiserslautern which had given us chills."
- Peter Hammill in an interview with Mju:zik magazine, February 1998

"I remember that much of 'Pawn Hearts' was written in my country cottage, which thereafter was haunted by a strangeness which clearly could be laid at the door of the damned fellow (Peter Hammill)..."
- Tony Stratton-Smith in an interview with Music Week, 29th September 1979


Pawn Hearts was given the Number One slot in the Ciao 2001 magazine album chart.

Jim Christopulos talks to Paul Whitehead about the cover.

Melody Maker review
Nov 6th 1971
"After this we'll radically change I feel" - PH
Sounds interview 29th Jan 1972
"It'll be more of the same really," says Peter Hammill, "but more of the same in a different way"...
"An inventive and exciting group" - Disc and Music Echo, review 1st Jan 1972.

"I have to confess complete ignorance of precisely what Van der Graaf Generator are trying to achieve"
- Record Mirror, review Dec '71.

"Generator Hotter" - NME, October 71 tour review.



"Our next album which will be a 'double' should be out in July."

"'Pawn Hearts' was originally going to be a double album with one side of oldies done more or less live, and one side of individual pieces by Hugh, Dave and Guy".
The silly Blackshirts in the Keith Morris centre-page photo come from a) a loony club VDGG formed with producer John Anthony, and b) from a line from the Hammill lyrics to Dave Jackson's unreleased track:

"Archimedes Agamemnon agnostic,
Now the Blackshirts are coming here
Live in freedom not in Fear."

"By this point we had gone beyond the borders of the finite, where we have been ever since. And sometimes in the course of making that album it was hard to find even the most tenuous connection with ... reality ... normality (laughs)".
- Peter Hammill in an interview with OD magazine, Summer 1976


"We had mixed feelings about 'Pawn Hearts' because we'd recorded a double album and it had been decided that it was not 'prudent' to release a double LP at that time, so it had to come out as a single album. There was a track called 'Archimedes Agnostic' I think, and Guy had a backwards drum piece. The other titles are lost to oblivion though, as is the master tape. It's the biggest mystery of all: what happened to the lost half of 'Pawn Hearts'? We put a lot of work and ideas into it, one time we went into the studio and set up everything and then played a Van der Graaf song live straight off, recording it in mono and putting it onto one track of the 24 - then we did the same thing on the second track with a totally different song and so-on until at the end of the day, we had twenty four Van der Graaf Generators all playing simultaneously. We mixed it all together and used a section of it on 'Lighthouse Keepers' near to the line '...maelstrom of my memory' although to be frank, hearing it back now it hardly seems worth the effort."
- David Jackson in an interview with Mick Dillingham in 1990
(N.B. Other sources indicate that the missing side 3 of 'Pawns' included live-in-the-studio versions of 'Killer' and 'Darkness' and that side 4 included a track called 'Iceberg')
- comment by interviewer

"The 'lost' elements of 'Pawn Hearts' would have consisted of two different sides of vinyl: one was to be live-in-the-studio versions of a few VdGG favourites - 'Killer' and 'Darkness' certainly spring to mind; the other would have been three 'solo' - although possibly involving other members - pieces by Guy, Hugh and David. Elements of the latter, at least, were recorded, but as a whole they were never completed or mixed. In retrospect my feeling about this is that 'Pawn Hearts' is a more complete record without them than it would have been with. The original idea might have been to balance out against my somewhat madcap inclination to record 'Lighthousekeepers'... though this does not look quite so madcap today; I remain a champion of the individual talents of the other three in the band, but think the best arena for solo work is on a solo album. As far as live stuff goes, I think we always did it best, extremely well, on stage in any case. Finally, I don't believe that any of this stuff still exists on tape...".
- Peter Hammill in an interview with Mju:zik magazine February 1998

Image      Image

Tape cover Tape cover
Tape cover Tape cover
The Charisma doubleplay cassette tape with Pawn Hearts on side one and Still Life on side two.

8 track cover 8 track cover
The 8 Track tape

Pawn Hearts 2005 Promo Cover Pawn Hearts 2005 tracks Pawn Hearts 2005 CD
Re-mastered album released on May 30th 2005 with bonus tracks

Review in NME       Review in Mojo


Tape cover Tape cover
A new re-master with 5.1 Surround Sound re-mixes by
Stephen W Tayler was released on September 3rd 2021.

Tape cover Tape cover Tape cover Tape cover

Back to 68-71HomeLivelist