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Procol Harum - Homburg & Other Hats: Procol Harum's Best CD (album) cover


Procol Harum

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Procol Harum was one of the bands in the early Proto-Prog movement, they introduced symphonic sounds to their music, with piano and organ in their music. This is the best of Procol Harum's "Greatest" or "Best" compilation, for those who don't intend to get all their albums this provides the most complete collection. I had earlier bought the 1996 A&M "Greatest Hits" (the second best collection) which I would recomend as a starter if you cannot get Homburg & Hats on CD. (it's hard to find). For serious Procol harum Fans I would recomend the excellent box sets available for this band: "The First Four" & "Three Classic Albums". I really appreciate the fact that this release filled up the disc (77.7 min) instead of the usual 45-55 min.

This disc has two tracks each from studio albums 1-4 & 7, three tracks from #6 (Grand Hotel) + one track each from studio albums 5, 8 & 9. It also has the two hit singles (Whiter Shade of Pale & Homburg) that were unfortunatly left off the first release. (WSofP was only included on the first album's U.S. issue) This was typical of the practice at the time (the Beatles didn't usually put their singles on their albums in the 60's), and this resulted in poor sales for Procol Harum's first. The first 7 tracks + "Conquistador" are from their 67-69 period in which Matthew Fisher's organ playing played a more prominant role in the music.

The best known of the songs are "Whiter Shade of Pale" & "Conquistador" as they were big hits in the U.S. & U.K., they are both excellent. "Homburg" and the instrumental "Repent Walpurgis" (instrumental) are my favorites on the album, with the heavy symphonic organ parts. The tracks are all good, with the other standouts being "Simple Sister", "Salty Dog", & "Grand Hotel". The track "Grand Hotel" is a very enjoyable re-visit to the elegant orrchestral based style more prominant on their first 3 albums.

Report this review (#74899)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For those who want to enjoy the music of Procol Harum with budget spending, this compilation CD might be the answer. Yes, this record features the band's history in the classic rock arena. You can enjoy the unique vocal quality of pianist Gary Brooker as well as organ sounds that have characterized the music of Procol harum by Mathew Fisher. Who does not know songs like "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (4:07), "Homburg" (3:53), "Repent Walpurgis" (5:03) - oh, what a great song this one is! - "Shine on Brightly" (3:32), "Conquistador" performed live (4:17), "Grand Hotel" (6:11)? Those of you who "were" there at the glory days of 70s, you must have been aware with the list, I am sure.

"Homburg" reached Number 6, but the band's first LP failed to include either of the hits and so failed to chart. Things looked brighter in the States: the follow-up album Shine On Brightly reached Number 24, while an impressive appearance at the Miami Pop Festival turned a six-figure attendance into fans in a matter of minutes. So you can imagine how big the band was at the time.

To me, the music of Procol Harum represented the culmination of pop and rock industry which by the time its first inception, the music industry was mainly characterized by psychedelic wave. Bands like like The Beatles, Pink Floyd were very obvious at the time. Procol Harum appeared differently with touchy and memorable melody which laid the band a class of its own. Well, this compilation can be considered as your first entrance to the Procol Harum's music. Once you are OK with this compilation, you should move forward with each album collection as it's worth it. Procol Harum music collection will enrich your horizon as the band grew up at the same time the progressive rock movement at the end of sixties and beginning of 70s became major act in music industry. So, you'd better have this CD. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild, GW

Report this review (#87723)
Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars For my age -37- or older it's quite obvious to know the music of Procol Harum; if not the whole albums, at least their biggest hits: 'Whiter Shade of Pale', 'A Salty Dog', 'Shine on Brightly', etc. But how is it with younger generations? Lately I heard a young man in a record store phoning to his friend, asking what kind of stuff is Procol Harum, holding their DVD in his hand. That amused me a bit. I could have given him a short introduction, probably starting with a question if he really ever hadn't heard 'Whiter Shade', then saying something like "an arty rock band who were at their biggest, even pioneers, in the late sixties. A sort of Proto-Prog with lots of piano and organ, with elements ranging from blues to classical music". It would have been up to his tastes whether the DVD would have been a good investment for him. Well, I didn't see the conclusion of that case...

Anyway, this compilation CD is a very suitable introduction for a new listener. Those who have heard most albums, probably wish some changes on the track list. There are some songs I would consider mostly as fillers, a joke-like 'Souvenir of London' from Grand Hotel or 'The Devil Came from Kansas' from A Salty Dog, for example, while there are lots of great music remaining on their earliest albums. Especially for their most progressive side this compilation does little justice. Also the songs sung by others than Gary Brooker are ignored here. But as a start, this is fine. A proghead is firmly adviced to listen to especially Shine On Brightly from 1968, which includes a mighty epic 'In Held 'twas in I'. One could see it as a missing link between Beatles' Abbey Road suite and the 'real' prog epics like 'Supper's Ready' by Genesis.

Report this review (#130048)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "The weakest man be strong as Samson, When you're being held to ransom"

Procol Harum have not been subject to the level of plundering of their back catalogue for compilations which has plagued other bands. That is not to say they have been completely immune from such releases, but those which have appeared have generally been of a decent quality, and represented their work well.

"Homburg and other hats" illustrates this well. The tracks selected for inclusion here offer an excellent cross section of their work, with a good mix of the familiar and the less well known. With no less than 18 tracks in total, virtually all the space available on a single CD is used.

We have the hits of course, including "A whiter shade of pale", "Homburg", the live version of "Conquistador" (the hit single was the live version from the ESO album), etc. It is though the strength of the other selections which makes this such an attractive proposition. If we are honest, Procol Harum never had the strength in numbers of hit singles to warrant a collection of songs which will all be totally familiar. It is therefore the songs selected to make up the numbers which dictate how representative and indeed successful a PH compilation is.

Here, tracks such as the supremely melodic "Strong as Sampson" and the wonderfully pompous title track from "Grand Hotel" stand proudly alongside their better known peers. Offhand, I cannot come up with any songs which should be here but are not, apart from the prog epic "In held 'twas in I", which was clearly too long to be considered.

In all, a fine collection which offers a pretty accurate oversight of what the band was/is all about.

Report this review (#175875)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008 | Review Permalink

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