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Procol Harum - BBC Live in Concert CD (album) cover

BBC LIVE IN CONCERT

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.98 | 10 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For an art-rock band with two live albums dating from its overall prime, Procol Harum feels pretty lacking in terms of its prime period live coverage. Edmonton had a couple of essential cuts ("Conquistador" and "Whaling Stories"), but the rest of it either felt redundant ("A Salty Dog") or not especially benefited by the orchestra (the other two). This one's plenty better, but it's still only an hour long, and it doesn't fix the lack of any documentation of the band's peak lineup (with Trower and Fisher). Ah well, you take what you can get, and while this is hardly an essential live album, it's still a blast.

This album is a portion (at least, I assume it's only a portion) of a show from right before the release of Exotic Birds, and the setlist reflects this. The four tracks I love so much from that album indeed make it here, and while there's not a ton of departure from the studio versions, there's enough roughness (and hard work from the band to overcome this roughness) in the sound to make them worthy companions. They also do "Butterfly Boys" and "New Lamps for Old," and while part of me would have preferred some more straight-up rock'n'roll with "Monsieur R. Monde," these do just fine. Previous albums are represented as well as they can be given the time constraints: Grand Hotel gets the title track (with some amusing organ substitutions for the missing orchestrations) and a rousing "Bringing Home the Bacon," Broken Barricades gets "Simple Sister" (featuring an extension of the mid-song instrumental part, with the piano/bass riff getting played quietly into a crescendo over a long period of time while the guitars do their thing), and of course we get "Conquistador" and "Whaling Stories." Not surprisingly, "Conquistador" is a killer live track even without the orchestra, but I'm kinda surprised that "Whaling Stories" still sounds better live even without the orchestra. I really can't explain why the studio version sounds so labored and stiff compared to both live versions I've heard, but it does, and this live version is every bit the blast that the Edmonton version was.

And that's it! I would have definitely preferred a lot more material, but what's here shows that this lineup of Procol Harum was a perfectly servicable live unit, and I get plenty of kicks out of it.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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