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Procol Harum

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Procol Harum The Well's On Fire album cover
3.05 | 96 ratings | 11 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. An Old English Dream (4:41)
2. Shadow Boxed (3:34)
3. A Robe of Silk (2:43)
4. The Blink of an Eye (4:42)
5. The VIP Room (4:55)
6. The Question (5:01)
7. The World Is Rich (5:20)
8. Fellow Travellers (4:47)
9. Wall Street Blues (4:26)
10. The Emperor's New Clothes (4:17)
11. So Far Behind (3:51)
12. Every Dog Will Have His Day (5:20)
13. Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature) (5:24)

Total Time: 59:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Gary Brooker / vocals, piano
- Geoff Whitehorn / guitars
- Matthew Fisher / organ
- Matt Pegg / bass
- Mark Brzezicki / drums, percussion

- Roger Taylor / backing vocals (2)

Releases information

CD Eagle Records ‎- EAGCD209 (2003, Germany)

2xLP Let Them Eat Vinyl ‎- LETV341LP (2015, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PROCOL HARUM The Well's On Fire ratings distribution

(96 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (48%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

PROCOL HARUM The Well's On Fire reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars The old Procol spirit is still very much present in this album: from the first note on , you know that Brooker is still up to his old tricks. Along with Matthew Fischer, the only remainig original member, and Keith Reid still writing the lyrics , you are unmistakably, definitely holding a worthy Procol album recoded some twenty seven years after the demise of the band with magic not being their best . I have not heard yet their 91 & 95 releases but they should be in the mould of this one. The last number is a great instrumental full of early Procol organ and hits the point directly. The rest of those numbers are of typical Brooker mould but full of that classic duo - piano & organ.
Review by Muzikman
3 stars Is this yet another feeble attempt for a rock dinosaur to make a comeback? I answer that commonly asked question with a reverberating no! PROCOL HARUM is back with a new album called "The Well's On Fire", and it sounds like they have not missed a step after all these years. Lead singer Gary Brooker sounds like he always has and the rest of the band is right in stride with him.

After a few listens it became clear they did not spread their abilities it too thin on this release. There is quite a range of music offered on this CD. I heard a lot of first-rate rock, blues, and progressive art rock on this steady album. What was nice was that they were able to mix it up and separate it so the genres are evident to the ear familiarized with listening to such an amalgamation.

"Shadow Boxed" is a straight shot with no chaser; it rocks, plain and simple just as many of the tunes do. I really liked the pragmatic "The Emperor's New Clothes," with ancient fairy tale lyrics reinvented to fit today's twisted world along with a hefty helping of cynicism set to a modern beat. We are not talking about satire; this is cold and calculating realism, very different from songs like "Whiter Shade of Pale" of yesteryear. The most impressive track was the one without vocals. The guitar and organ lead the way with Matthew Fisher (organ) and Geoff Whitehorn (guitar) stealing the show on "Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature)." It packs a powerful punch and it is a stick of rock dynamite with many explosive twists and turns provided by this disciplined and experienced unit. Red-hot blues-rock inflected chops populate the vivid closer with swirling up-tempo organ accompaniments. They certainly close the curtain with sense of drama and flair.

This is an album well done by one of rock's legendary bands. Although this is certainly not their best work, their longtime followers will be very pleased and a newly found audience will surely endeavor to seek out their back catalog after hearing this album. Yes, there is still a fire burning in this wellspring of rock music.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Not content with making one ill-advised reunion album (1991's The Prodigal Stranger), Brooker, Reid and Fisher decided to take a second walk down this path. This time Robin Trower stayed away, but I'm not sure it would have made a jot of difference. The band is rounded out by guitarist Geoff Whitehorn, latter-day Jethro Tull/Fairport Convention bassist Matthew Pegg and returning drummer Mark Brzezicki, whose staid playing on The Prodigal Stranger was one of the reaons I didn't quite like that album.

I'll have to say, that while this is far from classic Procol Harum, our boys have been more adventurous on this album than they were on its predecessor. On their best moments on this album, like An Old English Dream, A Robe Of Silk, the Handel-inspired organ-driven Baroque-pop (sound familiar?) of Fellow Travellers, not to mention the much-appreciated venom of This World Is Rich (For Stephen Maboe) and the light-hearted Every Dog Will Have His Day, they can even roll back the years.

But despite the great lyrics, fantastic voice and the sultry, sensitive organ, the overall feeling I get when I listen to this album is that it's all too little, too late. As with The Prodigal Stranger, the value of the album is more sentimental than innate. There's certainly precious little progressive rock to get excited about, although my favourite piece, Matthew Fisher's Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature) is a very nice way to conclude what is probably Procol Harum's last album. ... 41% on the MPV scale

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album by Procol Harum represents a good comeback to the music industry as die hard fans still can enjoy the style of the band's original sounds through Gary Brooker's good voice and Mathew Fisher's organ work. Of course you should not expect something like "A Whiter Shades of Pale" or "Repent Walpurgis" or "Conquistador" would repeat down here with this album. That songs were really masterpiece and it's "probably" impossible that the band is able to recreate similar things.

This album is really enjoyable especially on the stream of music from songs featured here from the cool "An English Dream" right through the song with beautiful and motivating lyrics like "The Question" until the concluding track "Weisselklenzenacht" (The Signature) (5:24). Generally speaking, the music is entertaining especially with the nice melody and good rhythm section featuring one of excellent voices of legendary band by Gary Brooker. The band brings us the memories of early seventies but with modern sound. The songwriting, performance and sonic quality of the CD is good. Normal music buffs would enjoy this album. This album is very enjoyable during my "bike to work" activities from home to the office and back to home with bicycle and Sennheizer earphone at my ears. What a relaxing thing ..

After the release of this album the band recorded the live DVD which is also worth to collect as well.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Drilling down deep

In the same way as Jethro Tull would not be Jethro Tull without the voice of Ian Anderson, so the essential ingredient for any Procol Harum album is the voice of Gary Brooker. While the predominant sound on their most famous piece "A whiter shade of pale" may have been the organ recital of Matthew Fisher, it is Brooker's distinctive vocals which over the years have been the consistent factor in defining their sound.

This 2003 release, the latest Procol Harum album at time of writing, sees the pair working together once again, but this time guitarist Robin Trower is not present. Band lyricist Keith Reid fulfils his duties, the songs dealing with heavy and emotive subjects such as child poverty, 9/11, and financial greed. The lyrics straddle the lines between observation, cynicism and anger, "The question" for example asking "Maybe you should stand back and think, are you gonna be making a difference or are you gonna be making a stink". On the other hand, "The VIP room" ironically proclaims "If I'm gonna die, wanna die in the VIP room, not out in the cold with the rest of the goons".

For me, Gary Brooker has one of the most captivating voices in music; he could sing "Happy birthday to you" and turn it into an atmospheric masterpiece. When that voice coincides with a strong melody, the effect is electric. So it is with the verses of "An old English dream" which opens this album. Speaking candidly, I do not think the chorus on this song actually sits that well with the verses, but it is a strong opener.

With a total of 13 tracks running to about an hour, we find a good diversity of styles and sounds from the upbeat "Shadow boxed" (with Roger Taylor on backing vocals) to the reflective lament "The blink of an eye", Reid's touching observation on 9/11. "We thought we were living on easy street, but they pulled the rug from under our feet".

Elsewhere, while Fisher does not get too many chances to take centre stage, the organ work on "A robe of silk" is enchanting and familiar, the track having a "Homburg" feel. "This world is rich (for Stephen Maboe)" deals with another poignant subject, poverty and starvation. The song's message is delivered not as a lecture, but as a simple plea for help, the atmosphere being similar to that on Peter Gabriel's "Biko". "Fellow travellers" uses a Handel melody to great effect, the classical connection inevitably reminding us of "A whiter shade of pale". The song is yet another example of how Brooker's voice lights up a great tune.

The album closes with a rare instrumental, the Matthew Fisher composed "Weisselklenzenacht (the signature)". The first note on the organ is identical to "A whiter shade of pale", the piece unsurprisingly having the atmosphere of that classic.

In prog terms, there's no "In held 'twas in I" here, or indeed anything particularly complex. This is simply an album of decent songs delivered flawlessly by experts in their field.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Their previous « Prodigal Stranger » released some .twelve years before this one sufficiently proofed that the reunion of several core members of the band was not a guarantee of high quality compositions. So, I was not really expecting great things with this "Well's On Fire".

Of course, Gary always sounds as pleasant as he ever did and still provides this little extra emotion. A song as "Old English Dream" does convey this feeling. And even if "Shadow Boxed" is not one of their greatest songs, it rocks alright and features some good rhythm just like during "VIP Room " (although the band has always pleased me more when playing great ballads).

The great organ work works fine again here, especially during "Robe Of Silk". The band is also digging into its very old roots with a song like "Question" and its deep bluesy influence. Still, not unpleasant.

My fave on this album is by no surprise "Fellow Traveler". A superb and romantic ballad, fully in line with their best songs written ages ago.You can probably call this nostalgia and you would definitely be right. But that's the way it is. I grew with "A Writer.", and when a song gets as close as this one, I just succumb.

But there are other ones in the same vein. "Emperor's New Clothes" for instance. Again, Brooker is so emotional and expressive. The piano play so simple and convincing. Another excellent song, really.

On the contrary of bands like "BJH" or "The Moody Blues", while "Procol Harum" writes rock songs, they are credible. "So Far Behind" is a good example. And the closing instrumental features some great organ and guitar work. An excellent way to close this work.

This album is a good trip back in time. IMHHO, it is their best effort since "Exotic Birds and Fruit" released almost thirty years prior to this one and much, much better than the poor "Prodigal Stranger".

A nice surprise actually and a good album. Three stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The Well's on Fire is the 12th full-length studio album by UK rock act Procol Harum. That´s if you count The Long Goodbye (1996) as a Procol Harum album and not a Gary Brooker solo album. If you don´t The Well's on Fire is the 11th full-length studio album by Procol Harum. Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher and Keith Reid are the ususal suspects in the lineup while bassist Matthew Pegg ( Son of Dave Pegg from Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull) is the new boy in town.

The music style on the album is adult oriented pop/ rock. There´s a warmer sound on this album compared to the Prodigal Stranger (1991), but the music is still simple commercially accessible pop/ rock without many challenges or twists. Gary Brooker´s strong and distinct vocals are still the greatest asset in Procol Harum´s music. The instrumentation include lots of piano and organ in addition to guitar, bass and drums.

The Well's on Fire is another rather mediocre release by Procol Harum if you ask me. You´ll find well written compositions, professional musicianship and a professional production too, but you won´t find anything of a progressive nature here. The album is somewhat acceptable though and a 2.5 star rating is warranted. Procol Harum were never the most progressive rock act in the world, but they used to show great adventurism and be full of innovative ideas. Those days are unfortunately long gone.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Burn baby burn. This studio album from 2003 will probably be Procol Harum's last and it's fine way to say goodbye. The over production of Procol's last studio incarnation from 1991 titled the Prodigal Stranger is thankfully absent. Gary Brooker is still in fine voice and his latter day song c ... (read more)

Report this review (#1592907) | Posted by SteveG | Saturday, July 30, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Now I have come to the end of my Procol Harum journey. Their eleventh record "The Well's on fire" was released 2003, now ten years ago, twelve years since their last one and now they were up to a one more well produced rock record that surprised me in the end. The cover shows six flaming Tellu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1094224) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, December 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was prompted to listen to this album again and to write this by the sad news that Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher find themselves in court fighting over royalties from "A Whiter Shade of Pale", the band's momentous song, which is credited to Brooker & Reid and for which Fisher now claims par ... (read more)

Report this review (#103460) | Posted by alextorres | Monday, December 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm not an expert on the music of Procol Harum. Of course, I'll never forget 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', which was on the radio long after I was born... Before having heard 'The Well's On Fire', I've only listened to two other PH albums: 'The Best Of' - of which I think it actually misrepresents t ... (read more)

Report this review (#46024) | Posted by | Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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