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Procol Harum - Something Magic CD (album) cover

SOMETHING MAGIC

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

2.99 | 115 ratings

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Guillermo
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I really don`t know but maybe by 1977 the members of PROCOL HARUM were tired of being ten years recording albums and of being on tour. Maybe this album was only a "contractual obligation" to finish the contract with the record label, and it is similar in some ways to ELP`s "Love Beach" album from 1978, which was clearly a "contractual obligation album" after which the band finally split for several years. But if "Love Beach" showed some shorter songs more oriented to Pop Rock than to Prog Rock (plus a long "Suite" in the side two of the LP, like this album), in this album PROCOL HARUM still tried to show some Prog Rock songs, some of which really sound as previous reviewers mentioned: pretentious, bombastic, pompous, etc. As a whole the album is not so bad, but it really shows signs of being recorded while being tired.

For this album, there were some "new" things. First, bassist Alan Cartwright left the band, so Chris Copping returned to play the bass, and new member Peter Solley added synthesizers to the sound of the band and used a Farfisa organ instead of a Hammond organ. The Hammond organ became very identified with the "old" sound of the band, so its absence made the sound of the band change a bit. There are also some orchestral arrangements, well done, but a bit pompous. Also, the album was recorded in Miami with the Albert Brothers doing the production job (a production team which at the time was producing albums by the BEE GEES and other similar bands from the Disco Fad). I even read an interview done with Gary Brooker some years later saying that the Albert Brothers did not like the songs very much but anyway they worked with the band in Miami. Even Brooker had some doubts about the quality of the songs then! But maybe the record label wanted a "new" PROCOL HARUM sound so they suggested to the band to work with those producers. I think that the combination finally did not work very well.

So, this album sounds "uninspired", even if the band still sounds well, as the songs are very well played, arranged and produced. But maybe Brooker and Reid were looking for a "way out" for the career of the band, at least for some years. So they agreed to work with those producers and to make a "polished" and a more "late seventies modern album" to finish the recording contract. The band even toured in 1977, but without Chris Copping, who was replaced by Dee Murray, a bassist who worked a lot with Elton John`s band. PROCOL HARUM finally split by mid 1977.

The main "problem" in this album for many people is the long "Suite" called "The worm and the tree", which has the lyrics recited by Brooker instead of being sung. Musically, is not a bad song, but maybe the idea of reciting the lyrics was not very good after all.

Peter Solley (previously an ex-member and the main composer of the band PALADIN in the early seventies) is a very good keyboard player. Unfortunately his style maybe did not fit very well with the band`s style, but his playing is very good anyway.

Some reviewers mentioned Punk as a cause of Prog Rock`s lack of popularity in the late seventies. Well. In my opinion Punk was only another musical fad, but in this case, a musical fad which lacked a lot of quality in comparison to Prog Rock and even with Disco Music and New Wave music. Punk was a fad which did not last and in my opinion did not contribute with anything good to music, with some exceptions like THE CLASH. Like TREVOR RABIN said in one interview which was included in the DVD version of YES`s "9012Live " video, Punk was "rubbish". I agree with him.

This album as out of print for a lot of years since the late seventies. Maybe it did not sell many copies as the label wanted.

Guillermo | 2/5 |

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