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Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly CD (album) cover


Procol Harum

Crossover Prog

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4 stars One of my first and all-time progressive rock loves... "Shine On Brightly" my friends. Released back in '68, this was PROCOL HARUM's second release digging deeper and certainly darker than their highly talked about debut release with the monster hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". This is the classic line up with Robin Tower on guitar, David Knight (bass) , Matthew Fisher (organ) and Gary Brooker (piano). Songs are highly sophisticated and progressive in structure, with some of the genres best musical passages. Stand-out track is the classic 17 min epic "In Held Twas In I" which cleared the way for others to approach in a similar vein. Songs are very symphonic and memorable with solid musicianship throughout. Robin Tower adds some scrumptious lead guitar throughout and some of the extended jams are siomply breathtaking. A Desert Island pick for me...!

Report this review (#30803)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Funnily, this album got (as the debut did also) a released in the US (on A&M) a full trimester before it did in its homeland. But by that time, the volatile British industry had classified Procol as a two-hit wonder, and was simply not paying attention. Such a shame really as Procol was still well ahead of the game with this stunning sophomore effort. This album got a release with this green psychedelic artwork in a full gatefold, while the later UK issue will have the brown and pink piano drawing in a single sleeve.

If the first side of the vinyl is made of shorter tracks including the future single Quite Rightly So, most of the tracks are of a high calibre, but the highlight of the album is Skip Softly My Moonbeams were the tracks stops halfway, to let the descending bass line in an organ drone and Brooker dishing out Spanish inspired piano, while Trower picks up one of his memorable solo and Wilson slowly rebuilding the structure, and the track ending in a sabre dance. Grandiose.

The second side of the vinyl is made of a 17-min multi-movement suite (in the first half of 68, this is most likely the first of its kind) In Twas Held In I. And what a bloody masterpiece this track is and not surprisingly, it inspired many suite of the greater groups (most notably Genesis's Supper's Ready, more on that later ;-). Starting out with a great monologue over an organ drone, the tracks takes off in a grandiose style with a Tchaikovsky-esque piano, sitar and choirs intervening before a second monologue (a rare appearance of Keith Reid interpreting his text). Then comes in one of the craziest moment in prog with the bizarre teatime At The Circus were the ambiance is at its madness much the same way, Gabriel will bring out Willow Farm in Supper's ready some four years later. Autumn Of My Madness is one of those superb moments (with Fisher singing his track)where the songs dips shortly with atonal guitars, before Trower takes the cake on a melody of the first movement. Brooker is again present for Look To Your Soul and Fisher rounds off with its Grand Finale, which is truly one - Fisher admitting lifting it of Haydn, but it is done tastefully.

Ideally to get this album with the green US artwork (for ex: the repertoire label re-issue), you will also get as bonus tracks an Italian version single, and some homburg version. It is a bit frustrating to choose the best possible version of the album on Cd format, but thankfully there are no weak sounding version as there is for the debut album.

Extended CD review

Wow ! I get a second chance to say what i think of this great album. actually James says it all well before me so read him instead or read my review on the other edition of this album. Please note that this is none other than the british cover of their second album that was so far ahead of its time with a full blown 17 min + suite in 1968 ! Yeah , man ! 1968. So you ask why I gave only four stars here , where I gave five stars on the other. Well , there was less clouds in the sky the other night, when I counted them. Actually , I grew up with the green psychadelic cover , so i have a little (tiny, very tiny) trouble getting used to this (still good ) cover. So I shall give another half star.... you happy , now ??????

Report this review (#30804)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A Regal Zonophone

Procol Harum's second album is absolutely essential.

Anyone with an interest in prog who has not heard "In held twas in I" (incidentally, more recently covered by supergroup Transatlantic) owes it to themselves to hear one of the earliest and finest examples of progressive rock from the late 1960's. This epic track in five sections has it all; superb vocals, symphonic keyboards, top class lead guitar, complex structures, obscure lyrics, etc. It still sounds every bit as fresh and inspired today as it did way back then.

I've always considered "Magdalene (my regal zonophone)", the short track which shares side two of the LP with "IHTII" to be an integral part of that piece. It would not have made sense when playing the LP to miss it out. It is a bit like listening to the second side of "Foxtrot" (Genesis), where "Horizons" makes for an essential introduction to "Supper's ready".

Side one of the album is more of a follow on from the first album. The five tracks are short, and relatively straight forward, with little to suggest the masterpiece which is to follow on side two. They are well performed though, if slightly weak at times. Tracks 8-10 shown here are "bonus tracks" which did not appear on the original album.

"Shine on brightly" is a key album in the history of prog, nothing less.

Report this review (#30757)
Posted Sunday, July 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the kind of band blessed by god, among all the others creators of the prog scene: pink floyd, beatles, traffic, moody blues, sometimes i think there is a sadness in their very beautifull music, its not like beatles which sounds more happy, Procol harum is more organ driven, with 5 great songs and one weak: "wish me well", endig with an epic masterpice, mysterous all the time, very good taste, with time changes, bells, citar, choir, this song owns nothing to sgt. peppers. Among the other five, i like "skip softly my moombeens" genius and funny song, "quitly right so" and "magdalene my regal zonophone" ah and i cannot forget the great vocals, great guitar player, all the band is great.
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Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I''l have to admit quite rightly so, that I preferred to skip this moonbeam illuminating the landscapes of this epic group's discography. Though the long epic of this album "In Held 'Twas In I" is good composition, I prefer much more the version found from their following "Live at Edmonton" recording done with a symphony orchestra, choir and slightly altered arrangements. This composition has possibly brought much fame for this album among the fans of progressive rock genre, as it is one of the first big multipart rock compositions in vein of "Supper's Ready" by Genesis. But I have realized I'm not in so much hunt for the symphonic size queens, and as the other tracks instead of the starter classic didn't drop to me either, I ended up selling my copy away.
Report this review (#40071)
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "For you whose eyes are open wide/whilst mine refuse to see/I'm so in need of saving grace/be kind and humour me". Those are the Keith Reid lyrics with which Gary Brooker kicks off this criminally under-acknowledged album. Although best known in retrospect for the multi-part 17-minute epic In Held 'TWas In I (and dammit, I guess it certainly should be on a prog site), I personally find the opening song Quite Rightly So to be the clearest statement of Procol Harum's brilliance since ... well the previous year's A Whiter Shade Of Pale! The concoction of "classical organ and piano meet bluesy electric guitar topped of with surreal lyrics and soulful vocals and backed by vibrant drums and interlocking bass" is frequently amazing.

Quite Rightly So just rocks so much. The lyrics make me burn and Matthew Fisher has an organ solo two minutes into the song that tears at my mind and brings tears to my eyes. Astonishingly the title track Shine On Brightly doesn't let up, although when Matthew Fisher bursts in with a great organ solo around about the two minute mark, it does get a bit surreal! Seriously though the songs are quite different, even though the theme of despair becomes even more intense (I can see no end in sight/and search in vain by candlelight/for some long road that goes nowhere/for some signpost that is not there/and even my befuddled brain/is shining brightly, quite insane). Brooker's wonderful vocal performances are among his best ever.

After this killer one-two punch, the album flirts with mediocrity before eventually emerging all-conquering. Skip Softly (my Moonbeams) starts off a little lame, becomes okay by the first minute, gets quite good halfway through and spends the last minute or so soaring on the back of some Robin Trower inspired brilliance, before concluding in a polka-influenced frenzy. Wish Me Well is a bluesy stomper that calls to mind Cerdes (Outside The Gates) with the massed vocals a particular highlight. Rambling On is yet another dreary (which is PH's case does not mean bad!) story song, a quest for truth from an alienated man, one of several Reid themes that will recur throughout the group's career. With Brooker and Reid leading the way over a simple ragged piano and bass accompaniment, this song is one of the sleeper PH gems. Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) is another atmospheric melancholy piece with an unforgettable melody.

In Held 'Twas In I is quite obviously a make or break song, and I'll admit that the song still doesn't come up to the high initial expectations I had held for it. Perhaps its status as the first "prog-epic" (remember that this album came out in 1968) just gives it too much to live up to. It's not a bad piece, although the spoken word references to the Dalai Lama and the meaning of life that kick the song off might have you sighing and writing it off as dated hippie drivel. After a minute or so, a mean guitar riff will wake you up from stoned slumber, before a sitar and piano duet sends you back. More poetry follows before the zany music hall of the "'Twas Teatime At The Circus" segment steps in. A little bit of thunder and rain lead into the Fisher lead vocal for "In The Autumn Of My Madness", which is followed by a pleading organ and acoustic guitar led section. It breaks down with a melancholic disjointed organ gradually establishing itself. Sirens, weeping children and screaming men all build up the feeling of insanity, before a hellish Robin Trower riff steps in, stomping beat and all. Brooker comes back in with Look To Your Soul, a harpsichord-driven segment. Despite the awesome ambition and the historical context (this song is a clear influence on a range of bands from Genesis to Queen to Gentle Giant), I only start loving the piece towards the end, the oh-so classical Grand Finale which is topped off by some Trower fireworks and great choral vocals. Truth be told, In Held 'Twas In I is not among my top 20 Procol Harum songs and that still hurts.

Three blues-heavy bonus tracks offer a glimpse of what this album would have been if In Held T'Was In I hadn't materialised at the last moment ... a lot more ordinary. I'm not saying that Seem To Have The Blues, Monsieur Armand and Alpha are bad songs, as there are some very nice solos from Fisher and Trower, but really Procol do the blues very well elsewhere. Of much greater interest is In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence. God only knows why it was originally just a B-side, because it's a bona fide PH classic tune (the quicker alternate version is actually the one I heard first on a compilation, and I think it's far superior to the original cut, anyway both are included here). Another curiousity is an Italian version of Shine On Brightly, although sadly this one does not belong alongside either PH's best works or indeed that of the Italian greats!

Ultimately, Shine On Brightly has some awesome songs, and is often viewed by prog fans as Procol Harum's finest albums. It's still a must-listen, but the flawed epic track is not all everyone cracks it out to be. ... 82% on the MPV scale

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Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars this second album from procol harum is a masterpiece of the british psychdelic scene. it is an accesible album, full of emotion, feelings, madness, pretty and emotive melodies, and acid influeces. here you can find influences of different genres like blues, soul, fandango, clasical music, and a lot of psychodelia. this album is a great demostration of the best of that years, and one of the first prog albums. ESSENTIAL!!!!
Report this review (#60335)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For those of you who lived during the glory days of rock music at late 60s or early seventies it's very hard to deny the existence of Procol Harum which successfully composed successful hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale" which reached the UK #1 slot (10/6/67). That happened with weeks of forming Procol Harum where Gary Brooker and Keith Reid first recorded that composition. The song remained at #1 for six weeks before becoming a global hit of incredible magnitude, allegedly selling in excess of ten million copies! I remember how this song was around my childhood with the Beatles "Sgt Pepper's" and Percy Sledge "Love and Tender Love" (Oops! It's a pop song, not prog one at all! Btw, at the time we did not care the kind of music the musician played, really. I also liked James Brown, Joe Tex, The Animals, etc.).

"Shine on Brightly" is Procol Harum's second album and was recorded over many sessions between the autumn of 1967 and the autumn of 1968. Musically, this is an excellent album as is the case with its debut. The key theme of this album is definitely its last track "In Held Twas In I" that has also been played by supergroup Transatlantic in their debut album. But it does not mean other tracks are not good ones. The opening track "Quite Rightly So", for example, resembles the band's musical characteristic with its bluesy based music combined with Mathew Fisher's wonderful Hammond organ. He himself was nicknamed as "Mathew Celestial Smith" as a tribute to his electric influences. The blues-drenched guitar work characterizes all songs featured in this album. I also like the floating "Rambling On" song which has powerful piano work. "In Held Twas In I" is definitely a masterpiece track of Procol Harum! I like the narration at the start of the song and its sitar work combined with piano that follow. Great!

If you are a classic rock fan, you should not miss this album. It's now a legendary album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW.

Report this review (#75746)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a more experimental and progressive album in story of Procol Harum. The songs goes in diferent directions: the classic style in "Rambling on" and "Magdalena" and the long and epic suite "In Held Twas in I". In this song all is a surprise and full of inovation: a mix of progressive and psycadelic world which contain speak words (like the Moody Blues...), classic ambients in a dark vein, instrumental experiments, songs of storms and thunders, bells and lots of sounds came, like the first Beatles, to the sky of diamonds. Is one of the first concept songs in a story of rock. After this, the sound of Procol Harum became more rock and blues (more Robin Trower and few Gary Brooker...) till the classic period of "Live" and "Grand Hotel. But this is another story.
Report this review (#80099)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I hear 'In Held Twas In I', I hear one of the best epic songs out there. I also hear a 'Paul Is Dead' rumor in this song too. It's in the 'Autumn of my madness' segment. First, you'll hear a car horn, then you'll hear ambulences, people crying, policemen yelling, and someone yelling 'Paul! Paul! Paul!' This song does have very Beatlesque features. McCartney was supposed to be dead in November in 1966 in London where this band has originated. So it seems that they made a song about McCartney's death. I'm surprised that this (In Held 'Twas In I) is a top-50 psychedelic song. Because it starts out with a heavy bass-line, gregorian chants, and eastern instruments. Then it goes into a monolouge and into a vaudville-London hall song. And then there's bells, whistles, beating drums, a great harpsichord solo, soulful lyrics, and a guitar-orchestrated grand finale!
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Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For their second album (which deserved, at least, as much attention and success as their debut milestone album) Procol Harum decided to reinforce the artsy ambitions of their initial musical direction, and at the same time, elaborate a darker edge to their sound without making it obtuse or dissonant. Actually, it's weird that they managed to sound stronger while Trower's guitar appearances became a bit less relevant than in their debut (and in rockier PH albums such as "Broken Barricades" or "Home"), but still the interaction between organ and piano and the guitar leads display lots of energy. Of course, drummer Wilson proves to be a real force of nature when he uses his skills for both installing the rhythm pace for the songs and adding textures to the moods provided by his fellow instrumentalists. "Shine On Brightly" is, to my ears, a more relevant milestone than the band's debut for the seminal process of progressive rock, since the symphonic style of the intrumentations is meticulously worked throughout the entire album. The opener 'Quite Rightly So' and the namesake song keep a vibe very closely related to the spirit of the debut album's more dramatic songs: Fisher's hammond ornaments and leads shine rightly so in these two songs. His instrument remains solid on a prominent role for track 3, a song that travels from Beatlesque moods to exotic Flamenco-like ambiences to Dvorak-inspired Hungarian dance. Track 4 takes a trip to the realms of blues with an added touch of Gospel, while track 5 combines the melodic vibration of psychedelic art rock British style with some more of that bluesy spirit coming from North America. The second half of the album is the most accomplished, and it starts with the beautiful ballad 'Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone'), built on the martial cadence of a bolero tempo. This less-than-3- minutes long expression of candor serves as a proper intermission time before the majestic suite 'In Held 'Twas in I' takes the listener's attention by storm. This magnificent opus was conceived and recorded before VdGG's 'Plague' and Genesis' 'Supper', so it would be fair to say that the latter two found a portion of their inspiration in this Procol Harum absolute gem. 'In Held...' kicks off with a soliloquy delivered on a minimalistic psychedelic mood centered around organ layers and seasoned by sitar phrases; after a rockier brief interlude comes another soliloquy, this time spoken on a very Baroque piano motif by the poet himself, Keith Reid. Then comes a merry circus motif that seems to send a message of bitter irony rather than pure fun. The 'In the Autumn of My Madness' section portrays a similar vein to that of their archetypical song 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', albeit with a somewhat lighter feel so it can fit Fisher's singing. The following section is introduced by a reprise of one motif that had appeared after the first soliloquy, and by the time we get to the main motif we find a most compelling progressive ballad, based on dialogues between piano and harpsichord, and later, pertinently seasoned by an amazing guitar solo in the instrumental bridge. The 'Grand Finale' is another ballad, this time all instrumental and bearing an immense orchestral feel: the chorale enhances the majesty of this fantastic closure, and once again, Trower's leads fill their appointed spaces in a most defining manner. A grand finale for a very important album - this is one of the best Procol Harum efforts albums ever.
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Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
4 stars Damn those Procolers, they're getting lazy...they decided that, instead of recording a new album, they could re-record the first one, and, get this...NO ONE WOULD NOTICE! So they release ANOTHER bout of samey sounding dark organ rockers and weird music hall numbers. Except, wait, this time around, no music hall numbers! Well I noticed.

Alright, so, although the sound doesn't quite progress, there are a couple moments of artistic progression. For one thing, the darkness factor is turned up throughout the whole thing, and in at least one case, the weirdness factor is REAL high too (and all those darkness and carnival images make me wonder if they were listening to Strange Days a lot before they recorded this). Oh, yeah, there's also this whole rock suite thing...

Best song? Hmm...a bit easier than the first album, since I know it's one of the first three. We start off with two organ rockers, and "Quite Rightly So" is a brilliant opener for the album, with some of the best organ work the Procolers ever put out. It somehow manages to be hopeful, but thoroughly depressing too. Same for the lyrics and the vocals, and the guitar solo sounds perfectly in place (this time...what, I heard the pre-album version first!).

Next there's "Shine on Brightly," which is PROBABLY the best thing on the album. Gotta love those crazy ass lyrics (which the Floyd eventually ripped off...stupid the Floyd), but there's also those clever guitar screeches behind the equally clever melody. "Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)" is just plain weird. It moves in a couple of sections, the first a piano-driven psycho pop song, the second an ominous guitar/organ buildup, and finally...a carnival music breakdown! I'm serious. Not to be missed.

The next couple of tracks aren't quite as good. Maybe just as fun though. "Wish Me Well" is our obligatory heavy blues. The lyrics are fantastic, but the tune itself is kind of average. And where's my manic soloing? Robby, why'd you let me down? Oh well, considering that it's a "clap along" number, it's pretty good. But, likewise, the best aspect of "Rambling On" is the concept. The tune is even less memorable, but you have to love a song whose opening line is: "A local picture house was playing a Batman movie." See, it's a little ditty about a man who Wished He Could Fly (like Batman). Oh, and, best use of fade out on the album. Get it? They're "rambling on." Heh (stoopid Led Zep though; first, they rip off the Procolers' patented "heavy Gothic blues" style, then they steal a song title! Couldn't they do anything themselves?).

The piano ballad "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)" COULD have been beautiful. In fact, the orchestration is just about perfect. But no, Brooker had to have this overblown, tongue-in-cheek vocal delivery. Oh well, I guess it is supposed to be sort of funny too. But, in that case, it's kind of throwaway. Stick with the beauty, boys.

Still, "Magdalene" can just be viewed (even if it shouldn't) as an intro to "In Held Twas in I," the proggiest thing EVER recorded to date And this is STILL pre-Court damn it! I wonder why everyone forgets this. Maybe because it sucks?

Okay, it doesn't suck. Much. But it DOES contain all kinds of standards of a prog opera; there are: multiple movements, sound effects, extended solos, spoken words. All that's missing is an orchestra...wait, spoken word?!? Yeah, and you know what? It's actually okay. We begin with "Glimpses of Nirvana," which is just some poetry read over some sound effects, but I actually don't mind a bit. Perhaps because it's the Procoler style, and I'm biased, but I SWEAR that that's decent rock poetry. Besides, the line, "If I can communicate, even though the words I use are pretentious and make you cringe with embarrassment" pretty much sums up the entire prog movement in a breath.

This is followed by a blast of proto metallic riffage saddled with some descending piano. Now, the SECOND half of "Glimpses," also poetry, does not excite me that much (and the less said about sitars in general the better...although, they're actually okay here). Luckily, we eventually get to "Twas Tea Time at the Circus," which is a really fun, organ (calliope?) driven carnival number. Love the imagery. Then you've got "In the Autumn of My Madness," which is probably the best movement in the thing; the interplay between the acoustic and electric guitars is fantastic, and the tune itself is no slouch either. Great lyrics, naturally.

This slowly fades into a mess of weird looped noises, then some menacing guitar. This last maybe a bit too long, but bleeds into "Look Into Your Soul" a pleasant harpsichord driven bit. Hardly captivating though. But the guitar solo is nice. Then "Grand Finale" starts up. It's a sufficient "closer." I mean, it's good, mind you, but just not "Repent Walpurgis." Which, as some have suggested, it's just a tad derivative of. And perhaps it is (moody, classically, piano/guitary, but with a choir this time. Get it?).

So, in relation to the first album, a bit of a letdown. In fact, considering how good that one was, this is practically a full star lower. However, a disappointing album by Procoler standards is still pretty good by everyone else's.

The variety factor, the ONLY issue with the first album, is even lower here. All the openly humorous stuff here is gone; there's no "Mabel" on this one. Of course, songs like "Skip Softly" and "Rambling On" are still amusing, but it's harder to distinguish the humor from the darkness now.

Now, in the album's defense, that's partly because this album IS way darker than the first (if you can believe that (if you can believe the first album was dark)). I actually do like that, even if it does mean killing the variety.

Well, variety aside, there is also the issue of a few lackluster songs. As much as I can come to appreciate "Magdelene" and "Wish Me Well," the melody of "Rambling On" and certainly the weaker parts of the suite will never quite catch up. The lyrics are a different matter. Naturally. They're all quite excellent.

But I still gave it a four, right? The first three songs are absolute classics. And the musicianship hasn't gone down a scrape; if anything, it's better! The organ banged excellently, the guitar is far more present, and the drums are (as usual) magnificent. Wilson really holds the whole affair together.

So I'm really actually quite fond of the album, there are just certain factors that prevent it from going any higher. It's a very worthy album in its own right, and can be just as enjoyable as the first. Well, almost...

(Damn, these things seem to be getting more and more technical...oh well, ne'er you mind, 'cause there's only three bonuses, and you heard 'em all! Seriously. The first, "In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence," is the upbeat piano rocker with the downbeat, introspective lyrics that was on my copy of Procol Harum. The second is "Shine On Brightly," only, get this, in ITALIAN! Already the Boot Nation is showing some interest in progressive music. And finally, there's our favorite piano ballad "Homburg," but this time, it's in STEREO! Yeah. All three are still great songs, but totally useless on the remaster. If you haven't heard "Sixpence" before, that'll be your best song. If you have, I dunno, go with "Il Tuo Diamante," at least Brooker's accent is sorta funny.)

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Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shine On Brightly is a great album that more people should have in their collections!

1968 was a magical year that gave us albums like The White Album by The Beatles, We're Only In It For The Money, A Saucerful Of Secrets and for my part Shine On Brightly. So why is this album such a classic? The fact that it contains one of the first true long progressive compositions should be enough reason for any progressive rock fan to consider this album purchase. But this album also offers the most creative overall Procol Harum album to date.

The album's first side is fun and quirky featuring three-track highlights in a row starting with Quite Rightly So and all the way to Skip Softly (My Moonbeams). Wish Me Well is an unexpected low point since it's just an average Blues Rock performance that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the material here. Rambling On and Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) are definite improvements over the preceding track working as nice transitional pieces leading up to the album's definite highlight.

In Held Twas In I definitely needs no introduction and most of us have already heard the nice Transatlantic cover from their debut album. It a multi-section suite of epic propositions and I certainly consider it to be among the top ten best prog epics of all time!

If all of my previous points still didn't convince you to hear this album then you can at least do it for Procol Harum. Since this album, once and for all, proves that they weren't just a one hit wonder band!

***** songs: Quite Rightly So (3:40) In Held Twas In I (17:31)

**** songs: Shine On Brightly (3:32) Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) (3:47) Rambling On (4:31) Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) (2:50)

** songs: Wish Me Well (3:18)

Total Rating: 4,37

Report this review (#161581)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After having initiated a new sound with their debut album, and having set their fame with the formidable Whiter, selling millions of these worldwide, Procol Harum got to work and produced their second album a year later.

It is a consolidation of their original work, based on these great dual keyboards, fine harmonies ("Quite Rightly So"), some excellent and heavy psychedelia ("Skip Softly"). The second part of this song is absolutely "Dantesque". A highlight.

There are some avoidable song as well. The bluesy "Wish Me Well (I wish I could.) and the childish "Magdalene" for instance.

The "pičce de résistance" is of course the epic "In Held 't Was In I". Something totally different from the music produced in those days. Mixing several influences (Oriental, classical). I guess one can consider this piece of work as one of the foundation of prog music. Of prog epics for sure.

It lacks maybe in unity, but considering that it was released in 1968, there were little (to none) points of comparison.

The atmosphere of "Pepper's" also had its mark on this song and for sure, "10CC" must have listened to this piece many times.The third part The Autumn of My Madness is the most melodic one. A superb vocals part and what to say about this crescendo keyboard section? My fave one.

But the whole is just a masterpiece. A phenomenal and emblematic epic. Do yourself a favor: do listen to it. For your pleasure. At times, during the fourth movement "Look to Your Soul" (when vocals become more powerful, there might even some hints for the later "Supper's").

No doubt, this track shines on brightly.

The remastered CD version features a bunch of bonus tracks of which I particularly like "In the Wee Small Hours of Six Pence". Almost a classic with these fantastic organ sounds again. And there is even an Italian symphonic track! "Il Tuo Diamante" is probably not a diamond in terms of vocals, but the music displayed is really enjoyable. Did you say keys?

Like for their debut album, I will upgrade this one from seven out of ten to four stars. Because it holds two masterpieces: "Skip Softly" (but don't do it) and of course "In Held 't Was in I". A masterpiece of progressive history. No less. Essential.

Report this review (#170789)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shine on Brightly is the second studio album from british pop/ rock act Procol Harum. Their debut album was a groundbreaking album which pioneered the use of both an organ and a piano player in a pop/ rock band. In addition to that it featured the multi million selling single and pop/ rock evergreen A Whiter Shade of Pale. With this in mind there were big expectations for the follow up album from the band. Shine on Brightly is a very worthy follow up and really shows Procol Harum at their most progressive.

The music is piano/ organ driven pop/ rock with very strong and memorable vocal lines. The mood is generally melancholic and there are some truly beautiful moments on the album. The big attraction on Shine on Brightly in addition to the normal length songs, of which there are six, is the 17:31 minute long epic In Held Twas in I. One of the first long epic progressive songs. Genesis owe so much to Procol Harum IMO. Both the vocal style of Gary Brooker, the piano runs and the general mood in the music reminds me of Peter Gabriel era Genesis. The song seemed a bit fracmented the first couple of times I listened to it, but it´s like it all falls into place the more I listen to it. It´s such a beautiful and intriguing song. The shorter songs are equally as exciting IMO. They are not that progressive in structure but the melancholic mood and the beautiful interplay between piano, organ, guitar, bass, drums and the strong melody lines really graps my attention.

The musicianship is excellent on this album. Gary Brooker is such an emotional vocalist and a really great piano player as well. The organ from Matthew Fisher is a pivotal part of creating the unique mood in the music while the soulful guitar playing from Robin Trower colours the music greatly. The rythm section is probably the most unremarkable thing on Shine on Brightly but they still do a great job.

The production is much better than on the debut and even though it´s far from excellent it´s still very enjoyable. I´d go as far as to call it charming.

Shine on Brightly has taken me by storm. I´m really impressed with this album. I expected great things after listening to the debut, but Shine on Brightly far exceeds my expectations. I´m on the verge of giving this the masterpiece stamp and I might do just that some time in the future, but right now this is a BIG 4 star rating. For fans of early Genesis this should hold a great deal of interest.

Report this review (#187084)
Posted Monday, October 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars From the warmly harmonious combination of piano and organ on their debut to this overwrought indulgence, PROCOL HARUM experienced a sea change in barely a year that some bands don't see in a lifetime, yet their essential sound remained oddly intact. The main differences are a greater degree of seriousness masquerading as tongue-in-cheek on the epic cut, an over-reliance on Robin Trower's grating guitars for fills, and, with the exception of a couple of tracks, a loss of their initial innocent yet world-weary knack for song development and melody. The latter may be considered a side effect of the first two.

I suppose it doesn't help that I never heard this in its entirety when it came out or even in the mid 1970s. The album went through an early period of being unavailable, so I picked up "Home", "Exotic Birds and Fruit" and eventually "Salty Dog" before ever hearing "Shine". But I doubt I would have liked it back then. It's true that "In Held Twas in I" was the first side long suite, but the earlier orchestrated MOODY BLUES album should get some credit for bringing this about, only in Procol's hands things get a good deal more bogged down. Probably the most memorable aspects remain the spoken parts and the mood setting keyboards that accompany them, and a small segment sung by Fisher. Brooker keeps threatening to shift into a rousing chorus of "Homburg", which initially seems like it would be a bad idea, but by the end we are pleading for it. Perhaps Robbie Robertson was partly right when he said that Procol kept trying to repeat the same song. I think they tried to create others but only knew how to do the one well. Trower's leads are indelicate, and the puffed up behemoth sounds like early BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST at their worst, and probably inspired them and others' suite spots for years to come.

Luckily, a couple of old styled numbers kick off the proceedings, the jaunty "Quite Rightly So" and the reflective title cut, both of which are compact tuneful songs that highlight the strengths of Matthew Fisher, Brooker's voice, and Reid's quirky vision while limiting Trower to digestible chunks. "Skip Softly" is actually a new idea that works well, beginning as a fuzzy honky tonk rocker and ending as a demented Ukrainian dance. But then are an equal number of uneventful songs followed by the flailing dinosaur.

Rather than shining on into the present day, this one has been flickering tediously since its inception. For historical value only.

Report this review (#248199)
Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Shine on brightly...

Second album from that Procol Harum crew. Lots of great Hammond work, as would be expected. Lots of great Trower wailing, as would be expected. Lots of great musicianship from the band, as would be expected. It's all very good, and for the time almost very sadly generic.

And, for a second album from a band that had produced one Massive hit from their previous album that resonates to this day, a bit of a disappointment. A bit too much effort to iterate the success of the first one, the Bach-ish organ flourishes, the bluesy guitar riffs. Still, considering the competition, not too bad.

I'm describing an average '60s album, so a few facts:

a) All things considered, this is pretty much a mundane follow up to that first album. Good songs, but you'd hear the equivalent from many a competent rock band at the time. b) In Held Twas In I negates everything stated above.

In the darkness of the night...

That's a cello or something droning deeply in there, a few Hammond overtones on top, maybe a few sitar notes, and assorted hanging about. These were the days of psychedelics, possibly reflected here. "Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?" A bit of a flourish, then darker notes, again the sitar tones...the Gregorian chant...the regretful piano.

Held close by that which some despise...

The same solemn piano, little else. Nothing else needed. "Write it down it might be read."

Twas teatime at the circus...

Bells, and happy times again! calliope organ, jaunty piano, cheering crowds. A welcome relief from the darkness of the previous happenings, only broken up by roaring thunder, pounding rain, and a sense of forboding.

In the autumn of my madness...

Matthew Fisher's vocals, that melodic organ, and Trower's guitar wails, and yer Bachness of it all, until the little musical progressions that just crawl up the scales begin. They've figured out a new Baroque paradigm musically...what if we just keep going?!..and ride it up to madness, until it devolves rather quickly to hammering guitar notes and relative blues dissonance. Coming down, I'd say they are.

I know if I'd been wiser...

Ahh, we're back to more melodic pianos/harpsichords and B.J. Wilson's incomparable drumming. A Trower solo, nice and tense. Just look to your soul! . . . And as was Procol's wont, a bit of a postlude, replete w/ piano arpeggios and choir. And one more badass growl from Trower, with Fisher laying the foundation. As the song ends, the listener must feel it's almost relief.

Back in the era when this was recorded, many a band tried to "record" the experience of an acid, as in LSD, trip. Country Joe tried it (Section 43). Certainly The Grateful Dead (pick an album, any album) and Jefferson Airplane (After Bathing At Baxters) tried it. Creedence Clearwater tried it to explain it (Looking Out My Back Door). And I suppose in these later days many others have tried it.

I don't know if In Held Twas In I is the source of this, but it's certainly a very large vein in the motherlode.

Excellent music all around, for any one who cares to listen.

Report this review (#257920)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Procol Harum - Shine on Brightly (1968)

...and so is does, even in 2010! Thanks you progrules for this amazing vinyl!

The development of the progressive genre is a very important topic for most of us on PA. It has been a reason for a lot of debates on the forum and it has become an important factor for rating albums. Shine on Brightly is one of the key albums of the progressive/symphonic rock genre. I myself consider it to be the first progressive rock (genre) record, though music already had been Progressive (as in innovative, experimental) in '67 with releases from The Doors, the Beatles and Zappa.

Procol Harum has a recognizable sound. The piano-compositions of Gary Brooker are often adventurous with a lot modulations in the chord-progressions. His vocals are really good and singing along (when I'm alone) reveals the complexity of his melodic lines. The band has this classic late sixties rock sound projected on a symphonic/progressive vision. Extrovert electric guitars, the best of organs (sometimes very pastoral), ugly recorded piano (part of the concept!) and direct vocals. There are some very original influences on this album, for '68 that is. The rock-sound and song-writing came obviously from the Beatles, but the piano compositions are very influenced by classical music (with it's inventive modulation, going to other keys within one chord-progression) and the organs are very influences by pastoral church music. The vocals have that complaining blues sound which works amazingly well. Brooker is one of my favorite vocalists.

Side one has great, memorable songs with progressive influenced compositions. Side two has IN HELD 'TWAS IN I which can be seen as THE FIRST PROGRESSIVE ROCK EPIC. This is historical! A multi-part song of seventeen minutes with a logical emotional development, different atmospheres, a dark middle section, poems, some theatric vocals, innovative compositions and a memorable ending section. All elements of our nowadays epics are right there. Unbelievable!

Conclusion. This is must-have material and a cornerstone in the history of progressive rock. The influence of Procal Harum has been undermine, but I believe this record to be more important than many others that came in 1970. The second side of this record is without question very progressive whilst remaining very catchy and likable. It's a fun record to listen to. The production gave the album that adorable late sixties sound. Technically this is a four star album as a listening experience, but it's brave innovative approach in this early stage of rock music makes it an essential record for listeners of all progressive sub-genres. Five stars.

Report this review (#288320)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album shines on today. Indeed, it is a fascinating mirage of R&B-tinged pop rock and symphonic experimentation. Brooker and co's second album, it also has cultural significance for yielding the first side-long prog epic, 'In Held Twas In I'.

Kicking off with some high-quality single material, the songs that make up the first half of this album are by no means ignorable. Pop tunes and soul ballads yes... but throw-aways, no. The combination of piano, hammond organ and guitar playing different melodies was a relatively new approach in 1968, and would of course become a standard of any rock music considered "progressive". But here it is done with good taste and enjoyable results. The chord sequences are interestingly classical, but with a sense of triumphant resolution that can only be attributed to The Beatles. The only element of this concoction that doesn't work is Gary Brooker's soul-tinged vocals which, although good, seem slow and detached from the exciting music beneath them, almost as if they are overdubbed from a different record.

Minor quibbles aside, this listener particularly enjoys the proto-heavy-prog of 'Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)', whose three-part structure employs such devices as the grungey, "distorted-hendrix" middle-eight, to the descending fairground organ fade-out backed by Khachaturian's frantic Sabre Dance. In fact, the organ solos of side one are all highlights of this album. But what is the main reason we buy this record in 2011? It is to listen to the first experimentation of the format that would culminate in such classics as Supper's Ready, Close to the Edge and Echoes. I of course refer, to the soon-to-become- obligatory 20-minute song!

Opening with some eastern drones, Brooker recites some lines about the meaning of life, culminating in him quoting the Dalai Lama of the day, who apparently said "Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?". Forrest Gump, eat your heart out.... The glimpses of Nirvana our pilgrim protagonist enjoys are smashed by some excellent chromatic rock, giving way to a sad piano sequence that underlays more philosophy, this time spoken by the usually silent lyricist Keith Reid. The bit that follows is confusing in context; a circus theme about having tea and the audience desperately clapping. No one said this song would be 'simple'.... Following that, a pair of more conventional lyrical pieces continue the suite with a return to the soulful emotion and musicianship of side one. We are told to 'look to our souls', but the amazing, symphonic quality of the music means we don't have to for now. An epic finale ensues. This side-long suite has a strange structure, strange themes, and is indeed rather strange all over, but requires some deep thought to appreciate properly. Doesn't all good art?

'Shine on Brightly' is dutifully praised by indulgers of rock history, but it takes a few uncompromising listens to appreciate its odd way of being wonderful. 'In Held Twas In I' enjoys all the attention but really, there are no weak moments here (one possible exception = 'Wish Me Well' (see: soul music)). It is the second of three rather essential Procol harum albums. More importantly, it is the first of many essential progressive rock albums.

Report this review (#408500)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The words are pretentious, but cringing with embarassment I am not!

I picked this album up ages ago, because I saw Transatlantic's cover of 'In Held ('Twas) In I' on their debut album SMPT:e. The ('Twas) here is in brackets because Portnoy and friends decided not to include the extremely comical section 'Twas Teatime at the Circus' in their cover. I'd only really half listened to their version, because I don't enjoy hearing covers of songs when I don't know the original. I sought out the album, and played it from start to finish. I have to admit it did nothing for me (at first that is). At the time I had mostly been feeding on a diet of Yes, King Crimson, and of course Transatlantic, so I was a bit put off by the relatively simplistic offerings of the first side. Even the epic itself failed to pull me in somehow. So the album remained in my CD collection, and on my iTunes Library, untouched for about a year.

And then I began to resume interest in Procol Harum. It may have been to do with the fact that my musical tastes had diversified, and I was now more accepting of other forms of prog, or maybe just because the other albums had found their way to my local CD shop at a very reasonable price. I bought Procol's eponymous debut, purely to hear A Whiter Shade of Pale and was pleasantly surprised to hear other very good songs on the album, including the very proggy Repent Walpurgis. It is about then that I decided to give 'Shine On Brightly' another listen. Suddenly, it hit me how amazing this album is!

The album starts with the bouncy, triumphant single Quite Rightly So. I could listen to this song on repeat and not get tired of it (I'm doing so as I write this). Somehow I like it as much as I like In Held 'Twas In I! The lyrics, whilst remaining cryptic, have such charm, thanks to Keith Reid. An ode by any other name, I know might read more sweet, ... utter brilliance! What really makes the song stand out is the powerful instrumental section. OK so it's 30 seconds long and it's not in 7/8, but I swear if you find this song, skip to 1:52 and press play, your ears will thank you. The shimmering Hammond organ solo followed by the air-guitar inducing guitar solo really sets this song on fire. Certainly the best part of Side 1, and one of Procol's best songs ever.

We now get to the title track, Shine On Brightly. Lyrically, Reid struck gold again, but the musical composition doesn't really do it for me. The song structure is very simple, with three verses and an instrumental between the second and third verse. The main riff seems to be the same note played repeatedly on guitar, which may be appealing to some, but not for me. The instrumental is a short keyboard solo that is rather tame when compared to the one we just heard in the last track. The lyrics are great though, obviously very trippy in nature. There are, in fact, two album covers for 'Shine On Brightly', the UK version (a painting by George Underwood), and the US version (used on this website). I am annoyed that ProgArchives use the latter as the UK version is not only far more proggy, but also really suits the lyrics of the title track. The US cover just looks a bit grotesque really. Not a bad song, but by no means the best on the album.

Next up is Skip Softly (My Moonbeams). Houston, we have struck prog! For those only expecting to hear prog at the end of the album, you will be pleasantly surprised to hear very progressive sounding music this early on. However, this song is very quirky indeed, as the first 70 seconds play very much like any other pop rock song, although filled once more with two verses of Reid's infectiously enjoyable lyrics. After this, the song turns on its head and the mood changes completely. There is a sombre heavy mood which is climaxed by a fantastic guitar solo, and finally by a fast paced section similar to a traditional Russian song. Wonderfully creative, and beautifully realised.

We now reach the very bluesy Wish Me Well. This song would sound so much better if it didn't sound exactly like Cerdes from their debut. The only thing is Cerdes is longer and more creative, and has a fantastic guitar solo, and so this song sounds more like Cerdes-lite. It's an OK song, but repeating yourself is never good, especially if the second time is worse. It doesn't ruin the album though, so I'll forgive them.

The next song, Rambling On reminds me slightly of She Wandered Through the Garden Fence off the debut, in the way that they both tell surreal stories. That's not to say that this is a copy of the former song, like Wish Me Well was. The song is very aptly titled, as Gary Brooker literally rambles on for most of this track. In fact there are 4 verses in this song, but the first 3 are played back to back with no instrumental break in between creating a two-minute super-verse. It does feel quite intense, and at first the song sounds dull. That is until you finish the 3rd verse. Brooker sings Here I go! and suddenly things feel progressive. A chugging heavy pattern is played over and over and reminds me slightly of the riff in Genesis' The Knife towards the end of the instrumental. This radical change in the song is very attention grabbing, and other bands should learn from this example. Afterwards the song returns to normal and plays out. As I said before, at first listen the beginning of the song sounds quite dull. In fact this is FALSE! Pay attention to the lyrics to hear a fantastic surreal story about a man trying to fly, again penned by the sensational Keith Reid. That man is not doing badly at all on this album!

On Side 2, there are, in fact, two songs. Before the impending epic track, we are faced with Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone). I think track names like this put me off the first time around, but in fact Regal Zonophone (whatever that means) was the name of the original label they were signed to. In actual fact the song itself isn't bad, but isn't particularly memorable either, despite being in 3/4. BJ Wilson performs a marching drumbeat throughout the song. Probably my favourite part of the song is Brooker's vocalisation of a trumpet sound right after he sings play the trumpet voluntary. Once again, it seems that short songs that share a side with an epic track (taking up the rest of the side) are destined to be a bit naff. Other songs of this nature include: Genesis' Horizons, Yes' Wonderous Stories, Caravan's The Fear & Loathing In Tollington Park Rag and IQ's Through The Corridors. The moral? Sidelongs should remain sidelongs!

And talking of sidelongs, we reach our not-quite-sidelong epic In Held 'Twas In I. The strange name of this song comes from the first word spoken in each vocal section. There are five distinct sections to this song and I shall describe them individually. The first part Glimpses of Nirvana showcases more sublime lyrics by Reid. At the very beginning there is a long spoken section. The line even though the words which I use are pretentious and make you cringe with embarrassment is great because it shows that the group are aware that what they are doing is very pretentious indeed. Pretentiousness and progressive rock seem to go hand in hand, and in some peoples' mind the two are synonymous! The tension is built up in the first 90 seconds until the spoken 'Life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?' is cue for an explosively progressive 6/8 riff, that stops almost as suddenly as it began! In fact I feel that the 6/8 section is much shorter than it should be, and I'm sure Transatlantic agree with me, because they decided to do the whole section twice in their version. It's extremely exciting, but much like the Stealth ride at Thorpe Park, it's over far too soon! Afterwards the main theme is played on the piano and sitar, and is more relaxing, whereas I'd quite like more of the exciting stuff at this point. Still no matter, as more spoken words lead us into the next section...

...the extremely comical 'Twas Teatime at the Circus. The piano that was being played before is suddenly dropped and we are launched straight into a completely different world altogether. This very silly section certainly does remind one of the Circus, with completely different instrumentation including what sounds like a harpsichord. Almost as quickly as it began this section ends. Probably the easiest comparison to be made here is to Genesis' Willow Farm section of Supper's Ready which was possibly inspired by this. However, while Willow Farm is an integral part of Supper's Ready, 'Twas Teatime at the Circus feels really out of place here, with lyrics that aren't mystical at all. It's not awful, but it doesn't feel right at all.

Then we reach what I like to think of as the heart of the song. Both In the Autumn of My Madness and Look to Your Soul seem to continue the mystical theme that arose in the intro. The very lyric In the autumn of my madness is fantastic in itself. Both sections consist of two verses of iconic lyrics, especially Some say that I'm a wise man, some think that I'm a fool. The instrumental linking these two sections is the most progressive the song gets though (which is quite progressive indeed, especially for 1968). It's over three minutes long and has a few different sections, including the fantastic fourteen-note riff played by Robin Trower!

The song ends with the powerful, moving, astonishing, breathtaking Grand Finale. Here, I believe the original is in fact better than Transatlantic's version, as Procol's includes a fantastic choir, which is sadly uncredited on the album. The heavenly sound of the choir is broken by Robin Trower performing one of the finest guitar solos in early prog history, over Matthew Fisher's powerful Hammond organ chords. This is fairly reminiscent of the guitar solo(s) in Repent Walpurgis which also closed Procol's debut. After this heart-wrenching solo, the choir come back again in full force, singing gracefully and powefully over the 3/4 melody. The whole thing ends with some fantastic chords, and the album closes.

This album is not only brilliant, but extremely important too in progressive rock history. While there had been dabblings in prog before, In Held 'Twas In I was one of the first epic songs over 15 minutes in length and also one of the first to sound 'progressive' in the way we usually think of as progressive. There is plenty to enjoy on this album, and not just the epic song. Quite Rightly So is a masterpiece of pop rock in my opinion, and I just can't get enough of it! I'm quite surprised that on this site, the debut Procol Harum currently has a slightly higher rating than Shine On Brightly as I think this album is surely their masterpeice.

Before I finish, I shall warn people of the latest reissue of this album by Salvo. Everything looks great about the reissue, the packaging is very nice and the liner notes are extensive and informative, and there are ELEVEN bonus tracks! All of this is great, except that they really botched the remastering of the album itself. While sound quality isn't a problem, the songs have all been speeded up, so much so that In Held 'Twas In I, normally 17:30, now runs to about 16:50. It really makes a difference as the songs sound slightly sharper than they normally would, and once you know this, it's always on your mind. It's worse than that though: even if you wanted to mess around with an MP3 editor to correct the speed, the very first bell heard in 'Twas Teatime at the Circus' is simply absent from this remaster. On the LP the drums come in on the sixth bell, whereas here they only come in on the fifth. To some this may be a minor quibble, but I personally find this atrocious. I had to seek out different versions of the songs, to include in my library, and delete the Salvo remasters. The increased hiss of my current versions sound much better than the flaws of the Salvo ones. I checked and found that all the other Procol Harum albums released by Salvo sound perfectly fine, so you should definitely check out the other reissues from this company. Just be weary of these defects OK?

Report this review (#428110)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Forget ITCOTKC...this is where 'prog' begins. The second album from Procol Harum features the original prog epic and dare I say was more influential to future prog than the first Crimson album was. You can hear the influence of Shine On Brightly on King Crimson, Genesis and even Van Der Graaf Generator. The lyrics, singing and the twin keyboard work get all the attention, but the drumming should get a special mention. B.J. Wilson was considered one of the best rock drummers in the UK; he even declined an offer to join the future Led Zeppelin. His style is a cross between that of Keith Moon and Michael Giles on ITCOTKC. When this album was added to PA someone forgot to list Wilson as one of the members. Shame!

With the exception of one song, all these tracks are fairly proggy sounding...especially for 1968. "Quite Rightly So" fades in with organ. This song reminds me of Traffic somewhat. Good piano work and the vocal delivery is memorable. Classical styled organ solo. Good guitar here as well. The title track is great symphonic rock. I think this was released as a single but I'm not sure. Love the organ solo. "Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)" is a very proggy and experimental song for 1968. This sounds ahead of it's time. It starts off as almost a dark sounding children's song then changes to more symphonic rock with descending chords. Just organ and piano for awhile. Guitar and drums join in and the band goes into an evil sounding groove with a guitar solo. Later you hear an "oy!" and the band goes into circus-rock.

"Wish Me Well" sticks out like a sore thumb here. A bluesy soulful rocker. Not a bad song but not even proto-proggy. "Rambling On" is more typical Procol with the importance on the piano and vocals/lyrics. Gets very symphonic in the middle; almost Genesis sounding! Song fades out then fades back in. "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)" has military style drumming, piano and organ at first but later acoustic guitar as well. The drumming gets faded out and then the main melody is performed on...??? I'm not sure what, sounds like processed tubas. Along with that you get overdubbed vocals. Now, the heart of the whole album. "In Held 'Twas In I" is the very first side-long prog epic. It was a major influence on future prog epics, the most notable of them being "Supper's Ready" and "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers" (which itself was an influence on "Supper's Ready").

Originally this epic was supposed to be a parody of psychedelic excess, the same way Thick As A Brick was supposed to be a parody of concept albums. In both cases, the joke went over people's heads but they enjoyed the music anyway. It begins with a humourous spoken word section (think a parody of the Moodies narration!) over top of an organ drone and some sitar. Goes into a rockin' symphonic part until piano and sitar play a melody. Then you hear choir-like vocals. Over the piano another spoken word part by a different voice. Then the track goes into circus music with singing. After some effects goes into a mix of folk, pop and symphonic rock. Great organ playing here. You hear more sound effects, including backwards ones.

Afterwards a sinister guitar riff and eerie organ, and then a 2-note bass line takes the band to an increased tempo. The guitar plays a melody as the drumming and organ work gets more interesting. Later singing over piano, organ and harpsichord. After a drum roll the full band backs singer Gary Broker. Some melodramatic singing in spots. A great guitar solo follows. The music stops around 14 minutes. The final section of the epic begins with an almost walking bassline and melodic piano. The choir vocals come back. Another guitar solo. A very bombastic and symphonic ending (think a less weird Atom Heart Mother). Rock music rarely sounded so, uh, "epic" in 1968! Between the singing and keyboard work of Brooker, the drumming of Wilson, the guitar work of Robin Trower, the keyboard work of Matthew Fisher and the lyrics of Keith Reid, you have here one hell of an album. Oh yeah, there is a bass player too. Classic proto-symphonic prog. 4 stars.

Report this review (#463552)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This early Procol Harum is one of their best and has made an impact on music over the years driven by shimmering Hammond and the soaring vocals of Gary Brooker. Indeed, Transatlantic covered the epic making a statement of how essential the album is. The musicianship is always magnificent and certainly the melodies hook in to the system on every song. Parts of the album have become indispensable to the band and appear on all their compilations. There is no 'Whiter Shade' here but this is nevertheless full of equally excellent tracks.

Quite Rightly So is a great opener with Hammond and wild percussive embellishments. Trower;s guitar is always something to look forward to and he cranks out some innovative licks. Homburg is an essential song from the band and features melodic organ and a strong beat to carry it along. Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) features grand piano and marching drum rhythms. The melancholy vocals are perfect for the sombre themes; "for once I stood quite naked, for shame I wept the tears". Shine on Brightly is another quintessential track, with a moderate tempo and the ever present Hammond organ. The lyrics are always based on the premise of a relationship break up or searching for answers. This one centres on losing sanity; "The chandelier is in full swing, though it seems they smile with glee, I know in truth they envy me, and watches my befuddled brain shines on brightly quite insane." This was before Pink Floyd's "Shine On" it has to be remembered and well ahead of its time as was the case with the band's album content.

In Held Twas In I is the complex magnum opus of the album clocking a mammoth 17 and a half minutes. Once again it features lots of organ but the lengthy jamming is a key feature and shows the band at their best. Overall, this is one of the greatest Procol Harum albums in their lengthy career. They were never a one hit wonder despite their reputation.

Report this review (#602109)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Even if I find myself getting polarized amongst these early prog records of the mid-late '60s, they have a bit of that historical resonance that prog fans need to be at least aware of. Procol Harum is a band that has such a reputation as one of the first prog rock bands or at least one that incorporated elements that would later fall in the ''prog'' banner.

If the band could break ground in ''A Whiter Shade of Pale'' by sneaking Bach lines into a light pop song, but the multi-sectioned ''In Held Twas in I'' dug further into new territories in all of its seventeen minute glory. I would love to join the choirs of praise for the epic, but I can't fully. ''In Held Twas in I'' really does sound like the first epic as it's very prototype-ish, patchy and isn't the cleanest in segueing. It's like Procol Harum wanted to have sitar-drenched psych, classical bombast, circus/carnival music and their patented sound in one piece of music.

Somehow the shorter songs are what save SHINE ON BRIGHTLY because they've got that Procol Harum sound in semi-light classically-influenced '60s pop music with a little juice to them. The dynamics between Brooker and Fisher is actually quite marvelous with the piano and Hammond doing slightly different things. Trower's buzzy guitars are the icing on the cake, and everything wonderful about this album can be summed up on the title track and ''Skip Softly''.

To be honest, I find SHINE ON BRIGHTLY lacking stellar production, and to be honest, that's why I didn't care for this album before. Then Side A hit me as splendid pop music with an incredible sense of divine melody and soulful vocals. The mammoth epic is part of prog's history, and that's that.

Report this review (#727744)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
5 stars As prog as it got in 1968. Gary Brooker's soulful delivery and songwriting, Robin Trower's searing lead guitar, withMatthew Fisher's quasi-classical organ flourishes, and Keith Reid's offbeat lyrics all combine in Procol's best overall album. Not merely a curiosity for the prog fan interested in prog's roots, this album is undeniably strong on its own merits.

The shorter songs on side one offer a strange blend of warped music hall, blues rock, and piano-based pop. "Quite Rightly So" takes the stately march of "Whiter Shade" and betters it; "Shine on Brightly" is a proud ode to madness with screaming lead guitar; "Skip Softly" is a bizarre merry-go-round of a song; "Wish Me Well" is earthy blues; and finally, "Rambling On" is an amusing tale of a man who decides he can fly.

Side two begins with a brief hymn, "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)", which sets the stage for the album's centerpiece. The 19 minute suite that follows, "In Held 'Twas in I", is a spooky, multifaceted epic, incorporating several shorter "songs" to build an overall whole (in retrospect, it seems to be the template for things like "Supper's Ready" years later) that seems to tell a story of a man's quest for meaning ("the Dalai Lama smiled and said, well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?" being the most famous phrase in the song) and battle against personal demons.

File with the "best of 1968" and give this puppy 5 stars.

Report this review (#761269)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Shine On Brightly" by Procol Harum is just so sublime and incredibly ahead of its time, considering it was written in 1967/68. Very underrated (and a beautiful piece of album artwork - the UK cover).

The first track "Quite Rightly So" is a great opening to the album, and the atmosphere and tone of the organ is blissful! The song has powerful symphonic baroque-sounding themes and chord changes, but still remains cheerful with elements of rock and blues in its backbone (as with most of the songs). The title track then follows, with blinding bright indescribable sounds and a nice steady piano rhythm beneath the thought-provoking lyrics.

The next song "Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)" is almost hypnotic (albeit quite predictable after a while) with its plodding chords and vamps with gospel-like backing vocals. The song also contains a majestic and unique anti-climax and hints of "The Sabre Dance" towards the end, building the pace back up and retreating to the more bluesy "Wish Me Well", letting Robin Trower shine as both the guitarist and a vocalist - another excellent and catchy song, though not enough baroque themes in my opinion (although it's nice to have a break from it all).

"Rambling On" then enters, with traces of the title track "Shine On Brightly", but with a more gentle and relaxed approach. The songs keep on building down until the quietest point "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)" which is more stripped back and sadder than the other songs, but still retains the previous themes, and with beautiful lyrics laid on top.

Finally, the magnum opus of the album "In Held 'Twas In I". Starting with "Glimpses Of Nirvana" at the beginning of the universe with a haunting drone starting the suite followed by Gary Brooker's bone-chilling words setting the whole scene. After a climax building up the chords, the piano slowly trots back down with sudden guitar squeals appearing on each starting quaver of the 7/8 bars. The sitar plays the unmistakable little hook line of the suite, giving it another fresh Arabian flavour. More intriguing words are uttered by Matthew Fisher (or Keith Reid?) before an ominous bell sounding the start of "'Twas Teatime At The Circus", adding another flavour to the epic with the circus music and cheering of the crowd, reminiscent of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" from The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" album.

"In The Autumn Of My Madness" again contains more wonderous lyrics and music, along with the twisted "Look To Your Soul" intro which follows, with the fuzzy guitar tones clashing brilliantly with the organ chords before more of Gary Brooker's heavenly music and vocals, especially as he hits the high note, lighting up the song as it looks to be becoming darker. Then, at last, you arrive at "The Grand Finale" in heaven. Wow. A simply indescribably excellent ending to an almost-perfect album (in my opinion).

A(*). The essential Procol Harum album. Magnificently profound in almost every form - I wish there were more like this.

Quite Rightly So - ***** Shine On Brightly - ***** Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) - ***** Wish Me Well - ***** Rambling On - ***** Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) - ***** In Held 'Twas In I - *****

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Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Shine on brightly, Procol Harum took a big step forward, towards being a prog band. The group's second album was released 1968, still before other prog band's had begun. The others were The Moody Blues experimenting with orchestral feeling in their pop music, the psychedelic Pink Floyd and The Nice, developping an organ driven free rock. Also Procal Harum is very organ driven but on this record I think the guitars took more place than before.

A year had gone since the debut and the line-up was the same with Matthew Fisher, Dave Knights, BJ Wilson, Robin Trower, Gary Brooker and Keith Reid. The cover picture I can see shows a person playing a piano and the piano do have an unusual place in Procol Harum's music. If the thoughts go to a piano symphony it's not wrong. Even if the connections with the other prog aren't very strong this is undoubtly symphonic rock as much as(or more than) Genesis.

Especially the more than seventeen minutes long "In held twas in I"(8/10) proves that something had happened with the band. Well it's pretentious and interesting in many ways and the lead melodies are beautiful and this is the most enjoyable minutes of the record. The diffrent parts aren't so coherent and sometimes it feels like the intention was to be experimental. That makes the song only an eight.

"Quite rightly so" gives a fine start with mighty organs, mellotrons but also guitars(8/10) and "Skip softly(My Moonbeams) (8/10) is more experimental with first hard guitars and dark feeling and then changing to happy market day in the end. "Rambling on" too is great, a very pleasant but simple composition (8/10). The title track (7/10) is a track I like but not the best. The most inferior song is "Wish me well" which is too much blues for me(5/10).

Over all, this is a perfect piece of a prog collection and sure a great part of the prog rock history. To me this is better than the debut. There are no hits I lack here, where I just concentrate on the music. Best track: "In held twas in I" Four stars!

Report this review (#1088708)
Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A question that I still have in my mind: which was the first Progressive Rock album in history? Some people say that it was KING CRIMSON`s "In the Court of the Crimson King", which is a very good album. But by 1968 PROCOL HARUM with this album in particular was a very big influence in the development of that musical style, I think. At least, the inclusion in this album of a great piece of music like "In Held `Twas In I" was a real indication of how very good things could be done mixing several styles of music in a musical "Suite" of almost 18 minutes of duration with several titled parts, each one of them with different moods and "Symphonic" influences. I can`t remember now if there was a "Suite" of a similar duration being released before 1968, but in the same year IRON BUTTERFLY`s "in-a- Gadda-da-Vida" long song was released. But the style of that long piece of music, even if it has some Prog Rock influences, it even is more influenced by Psychedelic Rock.

"In Held `Twas In I" was composed by Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher and Keith Reid. In this album this song was performed without the orchestra (but the orchestra was employed in their "Live" album from 1972, and was arranged by Brooker), but using a sitar in some parts, and with Fisher even singing lead vocals in "In the Autumn of my Madness" part and playing the very good piano part in the "Grand Finale" part. By this time Fisher and Brooker were working very well as a team of composers creating a very good musical piece. In their next album ("A Salty Dog") , Fisher was going to continue to contribute to the songwriting and even contributing some orchestral arrangements, singing more lead vocals and even being the producer of that album. Robin Trower was also starting to write songs with Reid. Unfortunately, this very good line-up of the band (Brooker, Fisher, Trower, Wilson, Knights and Reid) could not continue working together due to some personal problems between the members, and by mid 1969 Fisher and Knights left the band.

While I consider that the main song in this album is "In Held `Twas In I" , this album also has some other very good songs, like "Shine On Brightly" (which maybe is one of the most played songs in concert from this album and one of their most known songs), "Quite Rightly So", "Rambling On" and "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)", all with some "mysterious" lyrics written by Keith Reid.

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Posted Saturday, April 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars It amazes me how such an influential album can be so overlooked in the prog world, but there are many valid reasons. The foremost that Procol Harum would be forever seen as a top ten hit song band instead of the musical trendsetters that they actually were. At least with their second album from 1968 titled Shine On Brightly. This is still the same lineup that recorded their eponymous first album, with organist Mathew Fisher oozing wonderful musical notes and cues that surround almost every song on this album without smothering any of them. His calliope like swirls engulf the album's brilliant title track as guitarist Robin Trower seems to send out siren like notes on his guitar by Morse code. My Moonbeams is magnificent prototypical heavy prog with Wish Me Well reflecting the ever present British Blues scene a well as referencing, musically, the late Jimi Hendrix. Naturally, Trower is superb with this material.

Incidentally, Jimi would be lyrically name checked in and the album's most celebrated track, which is the side 2 song suite In Held T'was In I, with it's magnificent lyrics from pen of Keith Reid and the powerfully commanding, questioning, searching and almost finding vocals from pianist Gary Brooker. Broken down into sections of philosophically questioning spoken word from both Brooker and Reid that are soon supplanted by the majestic music and powerful c=vocals of both Brooker an, surprisingly organist Fisher, Indeed, the section subtitled In The Autumn Of My Madness is Fisher's high point in both playing, composing and singing for the Harum. The song's instrumental coda, also written by Fisher and subtitled The Grand Finale, is Fisher and Trower at their absolute best. What makes the song so successful is that Reid's lyrics, as pompous as they may sound initially, as Reid, unlike many odf his contemporeries, does not claim to the path to Nirvana, either spiritual or physical. How merely ponders what life's all about.

If anyone likes Tommy by The Who, or the Beatles' Abby Road side 2 song suite, you can thank Porcol Harum for showing them the way. Procol's magnum opus may not hold up as well, but it's had to hold up far longer. Uber drummer BJ Wilson and bassist David Knights round out this album's classic lineup of the Harum. 4 proto prog stars.

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Posted Thursday, August 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Procol Harum may have been one of the most pretentious prog-related bands due to keyboards and compositonal style but that also helped them staying unique on top of having excellent vocalist, distinguishable bluesy-prog guitar played and having two keyboard players in teh band.

"Shine on Brightly" is rightfully considered to be the band's peak in the 60's due to an excellent fresh combination of pop/rock/prog. It is the last epic suite that provides many astonishing and jaw-dropping moments of gifted composers and players. Tasty guitar playing, ambitious music sections, perfect development of the entire composition and emotional end make the suite "In Held Twas in I" one of the most enigmatic and greatest suites of the late 60's. I've first heard the version by Transatlantic to search for the original version later. The original version sounds more authentic, while the cover is more technical!

Other highlights on the album is the melodic "Quite rightly so" with churning Hammond organ and the title track. This was maybe the artistic peak by the band as later efforts had repetitive elements and in the beginning of the 70's, the band sounded a bit dated.

You should start with this album to appreciate impact that the band made in the beginning of progressive rock.

Report this review (#2417278)
Posted Saturday, July 4, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Of the early bands that have a major historical importance, PROCOL HARUM has gained relatively little attention in ProgArchives. Although the category Proto-Prog is used very sparingly here, I'd say both The Moody Blues and Procol Harum were essential proto-prog bands in the sixties before the prog genre per se was born, despite their categorizing as Crossover Prog. One of the strangest omissions in the history of rock was that Procol's 1967 debut single and the massive hit, Bach-inspired 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' wasn't originally included in their debut album of the same year, nor was 'Homburg', another very charming, organ-centred song. Surely the album would have been not only better but much more succesful with the help of them.

For the A side, their second LP Shine On Brightly mostly continued in the bluesy style of the debut. The opening track 'Quite Rightly So' is the only one of these regular length songs that the frontman Gary Brooker (vocals, piano, mellotron) co-composed with organist Matthew Fisher. The lyrics were always written by Keith Reid. The energetic song brings nicely together the blues flavour and the proto-proggish sound with the piano & organ combination they inherited from The Band. The title track has more memorable melodies and a wider dynamics in the arrangement, from Robin Trower's sharp electric guitar riff to Baroque reminding organ decorations. 'Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)' is an edgier and heavier song one would expect from such romantic title. The instrumental section gets pretty proggy too.

'Wish Me Well' is very bluesy and gritty and features Trower on lead vocals. Also 'Rambling On' gives a big role to the bluesy, distorted electric guitar sound, but the organ and piano are there too. As a composition it's quite forgettable anyway. 'Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)' is a delight. Reid's surrealistic stream-of-consiousness lyrics form an amusing contradiction with the mellow music reminding of a funeral march.

What makes this album a milestone in the progressive rock history is the 17˝-minute multi-part epic 'In Held 'Twas in I'. The first movement 'Glimpses of Nirvana' features speech parts to a great effect. The delicate section with just poem-reading and piano is impressive, suddenly followed by the cheerful ''Twas Teatime at the Circus', which does have a slight irritativeness in it: fortunately that part is very brief. The rest of the epic is a marvelous, adventurous journey full of deep emotional power, especially in the sections 'In the Autumn of My Madness' and 'Look to Your Soul'. All in all the epic -- with the obligatory 'Grand Finale' -- is a real tour de force, and a notable prototype of all prog epics such as 'Supper's Ready' by Genesis. The modern prog super group Transatlantic has recorded their version of it, but actually failed to bring anything crucially new into it. The original is so powerful and well done already.

I don't care to deal with the cd bonuses that are mostly rather uninteresting. 'In Held' is absolutely worth five stars, but the less appealing bluesy songs of the first side bring my rating down to four stars.

Report this review (#2492714)
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | Review Permalink
A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars 1968's 'Shine On Brightly' is truly a little art rock gift from the famous British band Procol Harum, best known for their 1967 hit single 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' (that has sold more than ten million copies by now). Being the band's second full-length studio album, it is obviously a continuation and somewhat of an expansion of the sound of their self-titled psychedelic/baroque-pop tinted rock debut LP. 'Shine On Brightly', however, dares to break some new ground, it dares to be more adventurous, and perhaps for the first time, more progressive. Whether universally accepted as one or not, this record has to be fabulous example of at least proto-prog (if not full-blown progressive rock), with the grandeur of the 17-minute multi-part album closer 'In Held 'Twas In I', properly titled from an acrostic and signifying nothing. It does not get more prog than that, at least in 1968.

'Shine On Brightly' features Gary Brooker on vocals and piano, Robin Trower on guitar and vocals, Matthew Fisher on piano, organ and vocals, Dave Knights on bass guitar, B. J. Wilson on drums, and finally, Keith Reid's lyrics. Side one is occupied by a couple of nice, more radio-friendly psych-pop tracks, definitely good material, as the band display fine songwriting skills as well as lovely instrumentation. Then side two opens with another 3-minute song in the same vein as the ones found on side one (maybe a tad bit more obscure, but still good), just to let the big winner of the album to unfold before the ears of the listeners - 'In Held 'Twas In I', or the first really big progressive rock epic. The band were quite ambitious for assembling this great composition, linking together all the different parts in a gorgeous manner, pretty much in the spirit of what would become a recognizable trait of many long songs representing the 70s art rock revolution in the face of bands like Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP, Genesis, Crimson, Floyd and many more. The song also features various influences, another testimony for its prog credentials, stepping firmly into symphonic rock, classical, baroque pop, and eventually a bit of psychedelia, alongside the narrative of the first part 'Glimpses of Nirvana'.

All in all, 'Shine On Brightly' is from one side the proof that Procol Harum was not just some one-hit wonder band, also acknowledging the fact that they went on to release good albums after this one, and from another, it is a great collection of early, more accessible art rock songs, full of energy, picturing an interesting episode in the development of one of rock music's most enigmatic and pompous subgenres.

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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2022 | Review Permalink
4 stars This record has - arguably - the first prog epic ever. There have been long songs before, but none of them appears to qualify as a prog track. In Held 'Twas In I does.

In Held 'Twas In I is brilliant. It's every inch a prog classic. It's very obvious to me that acts like Genesis and Aphrodite's Child followed in their footsteps. On top of that, it is engaging, fun and brilliantly played. a solid 10 out of 10, certainly considering the time it was released. A time of experimentation indeed, but none had followed this path. 10/10

The rest of the album is more straightforward Procol Harum Is I have come to know them (through the classic tracks Whiter and Homburg).

Quite Rightly So is a great tune and should have been a hit 9/10

Shine on Brightly is another strong track. I especially like the squeaking guitar. 8/10

Skip Softly start rather uninteresting, but halfway through it totally changes and turns into an epic 8/10

Wish Me Well is a straight-up blues track. nothing wrong with it and confidently played and sang 7.5/10

Rambling On is very much what I know and love of Procol Harum. It has a resemblance with Homburg and Wither. 8/10

Magdalena starts the second side and introduces the epic. Another one that is close to their staple sound. 7.5/10

This album is a piece of the puzzle of prog. And on top of that, it is great. I thought about giving it five stars. The second side deserves it. But the first is merely very good. So 4 stars it is.

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Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2022 | Review Permalink
4 stars The true definition of Proto-Prog. It's all here folks. Yes Procol Harum always pops at the top of my head when I think Proto-Prog perhaps the most controversial category on Prog Archives. Most of these bands might have been influencial one way or another but I cringe at most of them being here. Procol Harum being listed as Crossover yet probably being the most important Proto-Prog band there ever was mostly due to this very album. If the debut album wasn't quite there yet despite the Bach and Classical influence this album is where things really take off and set new standards and highs that would define Prog albums for years to come.

While the first thing that occurs to me when I think about this album is the overly silly and catchy Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)" comes to mind. Also the keyboard into of Quite Rightly So also comes to mind. Overall this album is an early Prog powerhouse. Robin Trower a Blues guitarist playing in a very Classical based band is something that sticks out like a sore thumb and makes Procol Harum a memorable and interesting band.

Side B a number of tune building an epic track making this album a very important part of Prog history. The title track also being very memorable and having Classical elements that improve what was heard on the debut album. The year this album was released and what it was pulling off always made it impossible not to view as what I see as the most epic album by Procol Harum. I don't feel like they ever came even close to topping this in the studio at least. Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is a fantastic live album that could be called essential along with this. 2 of recordings nobody should overlook in their lifetime.

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Posted Sunday, March 5, 2023 | Review Permalink

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