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Procol Harum - Exotic Birds And Fruit CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.43 | 143 ratings

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3 stars The Naga rattled her tail and squinted at the speakers. "Uriah Heep?," she said. "You're wrong," said I. "Barclay James Harvest?" "Nope," I answered. "Jim Capaldi?" "Sheesh, now you're just guessing," I said, removing the blindfold from her eyes. "Procol Harum," I revealed. Sometimes the Naga comes by to help me with these blindfolded taste tests, since she's got a much better nose for sniffing out prog rock than I do. Right or wrong, she's got a point about this music scratching at the door, but is it genuine prog? I don't generally like to define things, but since I asked the question, I'll answer it with a general prog maxim: If you have to ask, it ain't. That bit of unpleasantness out of the way ("Yes, we're done for now, you can go put Lamb Lies Down back on"), what to make of Exotic Birds And Fruit. It's generally regarded as one of Procol Harum's better efforts. Since I live in a tiny crystal shell, I haven't heard any Procol Harum before this, so my opinion is -- well, I don't even have an opinion really. I like this album (LIKE, I re-emphasized, shrinking from the moony glow in your eyes) as much as I like Heep, though for different reasons. These songs are smarter than Heep, thanks in part to a dedicated lyricist in Keith Reid (no "Easy Livin'" on here), and more ambitious in scope. At its best, as on "The Idol" and "New Lamps For Old," Chris Copping's organ can take your mind on a magic carpet ride. Yet it's hard escaping the fact that Procol Harum, like BJH, has trouble establishing an identity of their own on this album. Bits of Bob Dylan ("Lay Lady Lay"), Buffalo Springfield ("Mr. Soul"), King Crimson and Elton John are still identifiable even after being run through the blender. Also, great music always seems to come easy to great bands, and Procol Harum simply works too hard for small triumphs to be considered a great band. If I sound disappointed with my first foray into the world of Procol Harum, I guess I am a little. They're not doing anything here than other bands haven't done better. You have to admire the effort on songs like "Nothing But The Truth" (which nearly recalls Gentle Giant), "As Strong As Samson" and "The Thin End of the Wedge," but cherishing this in a universe chocked full of great prog music? Well, that's just Naga happen.
daveconn | 3/5 |


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