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Procol Harum - Prodigal Stranger CD (album) cover

PRODIGAL STRANGER

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

2.41 | 77 ratings

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SteveG
2 stars Sailing through rough waters with the old salty dogs.

This 1991 reunion album of original Procol members Gary Brooker, Mathew Fisher, Robin Tower along with lyricist Keith Reid is quite baffling to me. The bulk of songs are written by Brooker, Fisher and Reid with Trower joining in just prior to this album's recording. There's nothing like A Whiter Shade Of Pale on this album, but I seriously never expected one at the time this album was first released.

Brooker, Fisher and Reid stick almost entirely to anthemic and nostalgic AOR type material that's really quite good on it's own terms. Reid has only grown as a lyricist since abandoning his early oblique avant-garde lyrical style that went out of fashion with the nineteen sixties psychedelic era. Album opener The Truth Won't Fade Away is as good as any Procol Harum opening track, save the magnificent title track from 1971's classic A Salty Dog. and melodically, almost every track is a hook filled wonder.

What sinks this mighty ship is one of the loudest faux "electric" drum mixes that I've ever heard on any record, and I'm a rock music recording engineer with over 40 years of experience. If that doesn't say something, nothing will. In fact, all of the instruments and vocals, while clearly recorded, are just mixed too damn loudly on the Prodigal Stranger. I'm aware that organist Mathew Fisher got the songwriting bug after playing around with drum machines and sequencers, which were in vogue in the eighties, and the band wanted, I assume, to sound contemporary with bands like Ultravox. However, this is taking eighties electronics, gated reverb, and production techniques to an extreme that would have even bewildered electronic pop bands like Erasure.

Now, I wouldn't find this so strange if Brooker, Fisher and Reid were not listed as co-producers and the album's mixing supervisors. Did they all go deaf? Perhaps they did after the first loud mixing session. A real pity because Procol Harum we're never going to return to their early glory with the Prodigal Stranger, but at least they could have walked away with their reputations intact if this album was not so recklessly over produced.

SteveG | 2/5 |

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