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Procol Harum - Various Artists: The Long Goodbye CD (album) cover


Procol Harum

Crossover Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This CD has been with me since 1998, I think. But I rarely played it until couple of days ago I got a short message at my cell phone: "Mas, do you have GRAND HOTEL song of Procol Harum?". Then I found this CD at my collection and I spun it again WOW!

"Love it" or "Hate it"? It's really up to you! For me personally, I have strong reasons why I love this Gary Brooker solo album (rather than Procol Harum's one, I think). First, I have always loved the bands (the classic ones, of course) that I loved during my childhood were taken into a grandiose effort using a full-blown orchestra. This happened as well to "Symphonic Music of YES" and even I love "Yessymphonic" CD and DVD as well. Why? Because I want to hear how it differs with the original studio album recording. Second, anything about rock music that is later combined with full orchestra has created a curiosity for me to listen to it. Am now waiting for August 29, 2006 when Dream Theater release their DVD / CDs resulting from their concert with a full orchestra. So that's why I tend to like "symphonic music of .." kind of thing.

Let's talk about this album which was recorded for a full year period from April 1994 until March 1995. Quite a long time to produce a single album. This is understandable because it involves many musicians and different orchestra: The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Philharmonic Orchestra (even though only two tracks: "Simple Sister" and "[You Can't] Turn Back The Page". Arrnegrs include: Nicholas Dodd (who also serves as Conductor), Darryl way, Gary Brooker, Christian Kabitz. Gary Brooker produced this album.

The album comprises great tracks like my all-time Procol Harum favorites like "Conquistador" (3:36), "Homburg" (4:46), "Grand Hotel" (6:45), "Repent Walpurgis" (5:40), "A Whiter Shades of Pale" (5:21). Well, the good part about this symphonic music is that all of the tracks with vocal in its original studio version, it is also featured here - mostly by brilliant and unique voice of Gary Brooker. Most arrangements don't differ in melody with its original version; the difference lies on the textures of the song because almost all Mathew Fischer's unique mellotron / organ sounds are now replaced with string section. "A Salty Dog" (5:53) is better being performed here than the original version - according to my taste.

It's quite surprising that Tom Jones was invited to fill in the vocal line in "Simple Sister" (5:51). "Pandora's Box" (3:00) is great with flute work by James Galway. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (5:21) arranged with this orchestration has made me nggeblak! man. It's truly great! I do enjoy both, this version as well as the original. It sheds light of my bright childhood really. Oh man I remember vividly how I regularly swam at Bengawan Solo river and after that took a break while listening a cassette of this song . What a wonderful childhood with rock music man! And now . "Repent Walpurgis" is ready to kill my bone! I cannot afford to sustain with the catchy organ melody (which is now replaced with soft orchestration) at the opening part .. Oh my GOD! What a great melody this song offers . especially when thee guitar solo by Robin Tower enters the scene . it really kills me! Subhanallah ..

Of couse, I don't want to tell every single passage of emotional ecstasy that I experience while I'm listening to this album as it will take a novel long review - which, I believe, you won't read it anyway! My advise simple: BUY THIS ALBUM! If you claim yourself as claro (classic rock) mania, this orchestrated version of Procol Harum's tunes is a MUST! Otherwise, don't call yourself as a true claro lover! That's why I give this solo album by Gary Brooker a five star rating - it's a masterpiece of classic rock arrangement! Don't miss this one man! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild, GW

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Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permalink

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