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Procol Harum - Procol Harum [Aka: A Whiter Shade Of Pale] CD (album) cover

PROCOL HARUM [AKA: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE]

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.92 | 322 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars This is another one of those seminal proto-prog albums that is so instrumental to prog and music in general. One of those obligatory passages from sixties pop to seventies rock, along with Caravan's debut, Soft Machine's first two albums and the Nice's debut. The original UK vinyl did not have the heavily Bach-influenced Whiter Shade Of Pale on it but the US release (four months previously) does and quite rightly so. One of Procol Harum's most ionnovative trend is a lyricist (Keith Reid), some two years before Crimson's Pete Sinfield, and even before Pete Brown (Jack Bruce's lyricist in Cream), and his incredibly poetic text will be over-analysed for years to come, but they were one of the most important strength of Procol's better tracks.

Procol Harum is one of those groups that should really be considered pioneers of prog as they were the first one to have this double KB attack as Brooker sang and played piano and Fisher played the Hammond organ in such a fabulous manner that it is the principal reason for the success of Whither Shade Of Pale with this awesome intro. However the real gift of Procol lays in the guitar and the drumming. No histrionic solos here, but listen to the incredible psychedelic underlining guitar lines form the awesome ROBIN TROWER. This is a man who was pinned down as a Hendrix clone/student but here again the popular wisdom is wrong as this came out before the first Hendrix album, and one can see here , that he was into experimentation before that. Trower's blues guitar mixed with the classical influences of both keyboards being blended successfully is one of Procol's most enduring achievements. BJ Wilson's excellent drumming is one of the most under-rated prog drummers ever. Some of the tracks are silmply incredibly advanced for the times and still sound so solemnly beautiful nowadays: listen to Oustside The Gates OF Cerdes, Repent Walpurgis, and future hit Conquistador, to get a load on how great these guys were working as a unit and breaking ground with almost every track. To call this album full-blown prog is maybe a little quick, though: Kaleidoscope, Mabel and Captain Clac are tracks full of great psychedelic invention that even Floyd or the Beatles would've proudly called their own. One of the secret of Procol's success is the descending bass lines (a descendo? ;-) on many of their better tracks and most notably on their Whiter Shadfe Of Pale

The ideal thing would be to find this album with both Whiter Shade Of Palec and the second single Homburg (which was a bit too much of a carbon copy of Pale, but still excellent) and their two B-sides. Simply one of those historic album and one of the first prog album. This album has received many a release over the years, some with rather poor sound, and to make sure you get a proper copy, try out the Westside label.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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