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Procol Harum - Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra CD (album) cover

LIVE IN CONCERT WITH THE EDMONTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

4.09 | 132 ratings

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SteveG
4 stars There are few essential live prog albums and Procol Harum Live In Concert with the ESO is certainly one in that excels on two crucial levels. First off, it's remarkably recorded and secondly, It's one of the few live albums that I've heard, Renaissance being an exception, where the band and orchestra mesh perfectly and create a certain chemistry that truly sounds as one coherent artist's vision.

In the case of a group like Renaissance that spurned electric guitars, blues riffs and were pastoral, Procol Harum were a full on rock band that could boogie with the best of them on any given night, so their special orchestral collaboration, captured here, seems more remarkable when compared to groups like Deep Purple, whose live collaboration with an orchestra left a lot to be desired.

Recently departed from PH was the great Robin Trower, who would go on to his fame and acclaim as a blues guitarist, his place was taken up by the lanky David Ball who did wonders to make past Trower riffs shine. Indeed, it's said that his nervousness during the performance compelled him to a play a better lead solo than the one that was re-recorded for this album's performance of the song Conquistador. This was actually a good thing as the group, and their producer, quickly realized that what performances they had were special and never altered another in post production. What you here is what was played live.

Especially noticeable is the dynamic playing of drummer BJ Wilson who at times sounds like an orchestrated Keith Moon with magnificent drum fills on the afore mentioned Conquistador, which leads off the album and benefits greatly with the inclusion of the orchestra. The score written by vocalist/pianist Gary Brooker himself, who also did the score for the studio version of A Salty Dog. Brooker's commanding voice is in fine form throughout.

A Salty Dog is a rival to it's studio version and Brooker's stirring vocal is superior as unbelievable as that sounds, while Whaling Stories is greatly inproved over it's studio counterpart as the choir accompaniment is magnificent in the "Shalimar" verse. The proto prog song-suite of In Held 'Twas In I is the only song not improved upon as Brooker's spoken word opening naration was never compelling and lyricist Keith Reid's soliloquy seems less impressive and somewhat amateurish compared to his intriguing studio version.

The strange thing about Procol Harum Live In Concert with the ESO is that it was a single LP record release which is disappointing as it's over too soon at it's running time of 45 minutes. Also strange is the absence of the group's first megahit A Whiter Shade of Pale. Even stranger is the fact that it's not even missed, as this album's live version of Conquistador became Procol Harum's second ever worldwide smash. 4 stars.

SteveG | 4/5 |

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