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Procol Harum - Procol Harum CD (album) cover

PROCOL HARUM

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 228 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A fair debut

I love early albums, some are among my favorite titles by certain groups. Given the legendary status of Procol Harum not to mention the beautiful and intriguing cover art, I figured I was in for a treat akin to the first or second albums by Floyd (Piper), Yes (s/t), The Doors (s/t), The Moodies (Days), The Band (Big Pink). Wrong! I can only conclude that the legend of Procol took some time to develop and springs forth from future works. Because much of this album is something of a snoozer. According to the liner notes there were early personnel issues and I believe it-I can hear a band that is not fully working together yet. Aside from a pretty strong presence in the lead vocalist the playing is tentative and not very smooth sounding. The supposed guitar hotshot in Robin Trower sounds like little more than a session player aside from some nice work in "Cerdes" and "Repent Walpurgis." Lyrically there are some pretty cool moments, especially the mysterious lines played straight-faced in "Something Following Me."

The ingredients for success are certainly here in abundance. Built on the blues-pop-psych framework and stock rhythm section is a promising mix of keyboard work, both organ and piano. They can be employed in a carnival swirl (Salad Days) or a sad dirge (Repent Walpurgis) or a bluesy barroom twinkle (Something Following Me). But other tracks range from pure boredom (Kaleidescope) to silly throwaways (Mabel, Good Captain Clack). The tracks lack the unpredictable vocal excitement of a Morrison, the otherwordly vignettes of Piper, the elegance of The Moodies. The songwriting is occasionally pretty pedestrian lacking the fire and spirit of one of the most fruitful periods in music. And yet there's enough promise in the side corridors for this to register. I have a hunch that later albums probably better show off the obvious talents of the guys in this band. I just find this particular album to be an underwhelming debut album similar to the way the Genesis' debut is. It has a bit more grit and guts than "Genesis to Revelation" but is certainly not in the same league as albums mentioned above. Sadly, there were two tracks which could have made this album much more respectable. The early singles "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Homburg" are very good tracks that for some unforgivable reason were left off the debut while tracks like "Mabel" went on it. Go figure. There are three or four songs I enjoy enough to salvage the purchase but I just can't be much more enthusiastic I'm afraid. 3 stars and not a Christmas Camel more.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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