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.
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".
When the Van der Graaf Generator catalog 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".
The title of the album resulted from a slip of the tongue 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'.
Robert Fripp plays electric guitar on "Man-Erg" [5:55-7:10] and "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" [8:10-10:20 and near the end of the song].
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.
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