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PROCOL HARUM

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Procol Harum biography
PROCOL HARUM came out of the ashes from a band called the PARAMOUNTS that had its roots back in 59 (!!) and had split in early 66. Gary Brooker meet lyricist Keith Reid and began writing songs and by 1967, it became clear that they would need the help from their old colleagues from PARAMOUNTS days to form their new band to be called PROCOL HARUM. They developed a really new sound with two KB (piano for Brooker and Hammond organ for Fisher) and a guitarist extraordinaire called Robin Trower who was greatly influenced by JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE. They quickly became one of the precursor of progressive rock (along the MOODY BLUES and The NICE) and mixed in some classical influences (BACH in "Whiter Shade of Pale") and sold millions of singles but also albums.

They became the first band to build a multi-movement suite that lasted a whole side and this was in early 68 in their second album called "Shine on Brightly" and became a real influence for all progressive groups to come. By their fourth album "Home", the sound had evolved to an almost hard-rock but by the following one, the guitarist Robin Trower left for a long and successful solo career, leaving Brooker alone at the driving wheel. From their "Grand Hotel" album, the sound will be tamer but still explosive but all of the succeeding album would follow suit, the band still enjoyed many hit singles. Until they folded in 77, victim of the punk wave. They sporadically reform around the Brooker-Reid duo and Fisher to record a new album and small tour, the most recent being in 2003.

PROCOL HARUM is highly recommended for all the progheads who are interested in the birth of prog and its roots as well as its inventive use of an symphonic orchestra often used a real instrument in their music.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Procol Harum - Greatest HitsProcol Harum - Greatest Hits
Remastered
A&M 1996
Audio CD$7.00
$4.99 (used)
Procol HarumProcol Harum
Import
Esoteric Antenna 2015
Audio CD$12.70
$13.06 (used)
Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra - Procol HarumLive In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra - Procol Harum
Import · Remastered
Salvo 2015
Audio CD$5.29
$5.31 (used)
Broken Barricades - Procol HarumBroken Barricades - Procol Harum
Import
Salvo 2015
Audio CD$5.98
$6.77 (used)
A Salty DogA Salty Dog
EP · Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Esoteric Antenna 2015
Audio CD$11.84
$12.99 (used)
Shine on BrightlyShine on Brightly
Import
Esoteric Antenna 2015
Audio CD$21.69
$29.97 (used)
Grand Hotel - Procol HarumGrand Hotel - Procol Harum
Import · Remastered
Salvo 2015
Audio CD$5.98
$7.99 (used)
Well's on FireWell's on Fire
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$4.50
$4.49 (used)
Best of Procol HarumBest of Procol Harum
A&M 2002
Audio CD$39.99
$0.65 (used)
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PROCOL HARUM
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PROCOL HARUM
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LP grand hotel
PROCOL HARUM
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PROCOL HARUM
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PROCOL HARUM
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PROCOL HARUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PROCOL HARUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 271 ratings
Procol Harum
1967
4.06 | 256 ratings
Shine On Brightly
1968
3.56 | 204 ratings
A Salty Dog
1969
3.52 | 138 ratings
Home
1970
3.30 | 119 ratings
Broken Barricades
1971
3.88 | 191 ratings
Grand Hotel
1973
3.37 | 113 ratings
Exotic Birds And Fruit
1974
2.77 | 85 ratings
Procol's Ninth
1975
2.96 | 96 ratings
Something Magic
1977
2.42 | 63 ratings
Prodigal Stranger
1991
4.19 | 35 ratings
The Long Goodbye
1995
2.97 | 67 ratings
The Well's on Fire
2003

PROCOL HARUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 105 ratings
Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
1972
4.00 | 16 ratings
BBC Live in Concert
2000
3.57 | 7 ratings
One More Time
2003
3.97 | 22 ratings
In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra And Choir
2009

PROCOL HARUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.15 | 14 ratings
Live (DVD)
2002
4.13 | 19 ratings
Live at The Union Chapel
2004
4.76 | 17 ratings
In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra And Choir
2009

PROCOL HARUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of Procol Harum [Fly]
1971
3.00 | 7 ratings
The Best of Procol Harum [A&M]
1972
4.20 | 5 ratings
Rock Roots
1976
4.75 | 3 ratings
Procol Harum's greatest Hits Vol.1 (Pickwick)
1982
2.67 | 3 ratings
Portfolio
1988
3.00 | 8 ratings
Chrysalis Years 1973-1977
1989
3.07 | 5 ratings
The Definitive Collection
1992
3.44 | 6 ratings
Homburg & Other Hats: Procol Harum's Best
1995
3.09 | 4 ratings
Greatest Hits
1996
4.18 | 9 ratings
30th Anniversary Anthology
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Halcyon Daze: The Best of Procol Harum
1997
3.00 | 1 ratings
Three Classic Albums
1998
4.67 | 6 ratings
Pandora's Box
1999
3.00 | 1 ratings
Procol Harum, The Best Of (Golden Times)
2001
4.00 | 4 ratings
Whiter Shade Of Pale
2001
3.75 | 4 ratings
Singles, A's and B's
2002
4.12 | 8 ratings
Classic Tracks and Rarities: An Anthology
2002
4.50 | 2 ratings
Procol Harum/Shine On Brightly
2002
4.08 | 6 ratings
First Four
2003
4.00 | 3 ratings
A Salty Dog / Home
2003
4.04 | 6 ratings
Secrets Of The Hive - The Best Of Procul Harum
2007
3.38 | 7 ratings
All This And More... - A 4-Disc Compendium
2009

PROCOL HARUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.74 | 8 ratings
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
1967
3.67 | 3 ratings
Quite Rightly So
1968
4.00 | 3 ratings
Homburg
1968
3.96 | 5 ratings
A Salty Dog
1969
3.96 | 6 ratings
Conquistador (live)
1972
3.00 | 2 ratings
Robert's Box
1973
3.50 | 2 ratings
Souvenir Of London
1973
3.00 | 2 ratings
Nothing But The Truth
1974
3.75 | 4 ratings
Pandora's Box
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
A Whiter Shade Of Pale - 40th Anniversary Edition
2007

PROCOL HARUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Procol's Ninth by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.77 | 85 ratings

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Procol's Ninth
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars A natural follow up to Exotic Birds and Fruit, Procol's Ninth does have it's flaws. Having dispensed with producer Chris Thomas, whose productions were getting denser by the record until the reverberant "wall of sound" found on Exotic Birds and Fruit was the resulting cut off point for the band. Seeking out uber American R&R producers Leiber and Stoller, Procol recorded their cleanest and most uncluttered record since A Salty Dog. And what does work on Procol's Ninth, works wonderfully, while what doesn't is hardly bearable. Namely the album's closing track, a cover of The Beatles' Eight Days A Week.

It truly is bad enough to make one twinge. However, eight of the album's ten tracks are good, with the two worst placed at the end, so ending this listening trip early seems unencumbering.

The leadoff tack Pandora's Box, with it's exotic mix of marimba, guest flute and more of Keith Reid's esoteric lyrics, let PH have one more UK hit, getting as high as number 16 on the British charts. Fools Gold seems like more of Reid's and Gary Brooker's laments about chasing riches and the eventual fall back to earth that worked so well for the group on Exotic Birds and Fruit. Brooker's vocals are as convincing as ever, but it seems like we've heard this all before. Indeed. With Exotic Birds And Fruit, we have.

Taking My Time is a bluesy number suited naturally suited to Brooker's voice which ahs the unusual accompaniment of brass. Many have said, including guitarist Mick Grabham, that band sound like Chicago, but in fact, the brass is more New Orleans style jazz and fits even better wit the later bluesy track I Keep Forgetting. Yes, as many have said, Chris Copping's organ is relegated to the background, but if Procol Harum fans have not heard enough organ played on the previous hundred PH songs, then they truly deserve a cigar.

R&B and blues is also central to the excellent The Unquiet Zone which features Reid's take on the ravages of war, and some of Grabham's best guitar playing on the album. And this is saying a lot as he's stellar throughout the whole album and has an ear for melody and tone quite similar to Tull's Martin Barre if Ian Anderson would have let him cut loose a bit more.

The Final Thrust and The Piper's Tune are quintessential Procol Harum. The former featuring stately piano from Brooker and the later featuring Lowery Organ in place of bagpipes. Both work well with more of Reid's pessimistic lyrics to give the songs that special Procol Harum gravitas.

The less said about the last two tracks, Typewriter Torment, and the afore mentioned cover of Eight Days A Week, the better. The only thing I find off putting about Procol's Ninth is that I can only play it as a follow up to Exotic Birds and Fruit, as it has the same vibe but lacking the bombast I love so much about Exotic Birds and Fruit. I would never play it at any other time.

With that in mind, 3 stars seems right for this good but non essential album from the once mighty Procol Harum.

PH would go on to make one more album in the seventies, the dismal Something Magic before the band broke up. An album not even worth reviewing simply because the lack of objectivity that drove band to record a cover of Eight Days A Week only became worse by the time the band recorded Something Magic.

 Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra by PROCOL HARUM album cover Live, 1972
4.05 | 105 ratings

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Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars There are few essential live prog albums and Procol Harum Live In Concert with the ESO is certainly one in that excels on two crucial levels. First off, it's remarkably recorded and secondly, It's one of the few live albums that I've heard, Renaissance being an exception, where the band and orchestra mesh perfectly and create a certain chemistry that truly sounds as one coherent artist's vision.

In the case of a group like Renaissance that spurned electric guitars, blues riffs and were pastoral, Procol Harum were a full on rock band that could boogie with the best of them on any given night, so their special orchestral collaboration, captured here, seems more remarkable when compared to groups like Deep Purple, whose live collaboration with an orchestra left a lot to be desired.

Recently departed from PH was the great Robin Trower, who would go on to his fame and acclaim as a blues guitarist, his place was taken up by the lanky David Ball who did wonders to make past Trower riffs shine. Indeed, it's said that his nervousness during the performance compelled him to a play a better lead solo than the one that was re-recorded for this album's performance of the song Conquistador. This was actually a good thing as the group, and their producer, quickly realized that what performances they had were special and never altered another in post production. What you here is what was played live.

Especially noticeable is the dynamic playing of drummer BJ Wilson who at times sounds like an orchestrated Keith Moon with magnificent drum fills on the afore mentioned Conquistador, which leads off the album and benefits greatly with the inclusion of the orchestra. The score written by vocalist/pianist Gary Brooker himself, who also did the score for the studio version of A Salty Dog. Brooker's commanding voice is in fine form throughout.

A Salty Dog is a rival to it's studio version and Brooker's stirring vocal is superior as unbelievable as that sounds, while Whaling Stories is greatly inproved over it's studio counterpart as the choir accompaniment is magnificent in the "Shalimar" verse. The proto prog song-suite of In Held 'Twas In I is the only song not improved upon as Brooker's spoken word opening naration was never compelling and lyricist Keith Reid's soliloquy seems less impressive and somewhat amateurish compared to his intriguing studio version.

The strange thing about Procol Harum Live In Concert with the ESO is that it was a single LP record release which is disappointing as it's over too soon at it's running time of 45 minutes. Also strange is the absence of the group's first megahit A Whiter Shade of Pale. Even stranger is the fact that it's not even missed, as this album's live version of Conquistador became Procol Harum's second ever worldwide smash. 4 stars.

 Home by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.52 | 138 ratings

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Home
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars If Procol Harum have one distinguishing fault, it's the overall quality of their albums. Title tracks like A Salty Dog and Grand Hotel are classic songs they few can aspire to in the progressive rock cannon, but the remaining songs on these respective albums are hit and miss.

Home is one of Procol Harum's first albums to contain great songs all the way through starting with Robin Trower's powerful blues riffing on Whiskey Train in which the narrator pledges his divorce from the bottle for the love of his sweetheart. Gary Brooker easily laying down the requisite whiskey voiced pleading while adding color with some old time piano from the wild west. It remains one of Procol's best rock songs along with the foreboding and dramatic About To Die which features more heavy riffing from Trower mated to Keith Reid's fascination (on this album) with death. The song's stiff verse turns on a dime into a chorus that would fit easily on any early album by the Band, and is aided with rustic but compelling piano from Brooker. This also sounds inspired by the Band.

The death theme reappears on the acoustic strummed ballad titled Nothing I Didn't Know. A pining lament for a girl dumped and somehow ends up deceased, with Brooker singing how he should have died instead. With all this death in the air, you would think that home was a dreary album but the truth is that Brooker, Trower, drummer BJ Wilson and bassist/organist Chris Copping laydown such compelling music that Reid's lyrics seem almost like an afterthought.

This album's highlight is the progressive masterpiece titled Whaling Stories, where Reid's lyrics return to early Pocol Harum surrealism with an orchestra and choir adding dramatic flare to this suite-like song. Another Procol classic on par with A Salty Dog and Grand Hotel, but not seeming as grand as the other album tracks on Home are so good in themselves.

For many Procol Harum fans, this is there favorite album. It may not be my mine, but I can certainly understand their reasoning. An extremely solid album. 4 stars.

 Exotic Birds And Fruit by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.37 | 113 ratings

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Exotic Birds And Fruit
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars "Ain't no use in preacher's preaching when they don't know what their teaching. The weakest man, be strong as Sampson, when you're being held to ransom."

Strong as Sampson should have been the Procol Harum song that knocked A Whiter Shade of Pale out of the British public's mind. At least for a little while. It was a song unusual for Procol Harum as it was filled with catchy hooks, great emotional singing from pianist Gary Brooker, and was extremely topical to Great Britain in 1974. Late 1973 was the year of the dreaded "three day work week" in Great Britain as the coal miner's union "held the country to ransom" according to the then conservatives.

And what did Chrysalis Records do? They released the song almost two years after the fact. A song that would have trumped the Strawbs' similar bash on unions, Part Of The Union, in spades.

But one song does not make an album, so let's start at the beginning. Dispensing with an orchestra and choir for accompaniment as they did on 1973's Grand Hotel, Procol Harum kept the music for this album in house and got out some of their big guns out in doing so. Exotic Birds and Fruit from 1974 was one of Procol Harum's most solid and fully formed later day albums (the eighth) and lacked the stale pretention and lack of emotion found in their previous album Grand Hotel.

One of the first songs recorded for the album, track number 8 on the original LP, was a swipe at the Chrysalis Record label management entitled Butterfly Boys, which did not go over well with the Chrysalis brass who wanted the lyrics and song title changed to Government Boys, as the Chrysalis label utilized a butterfly on their record logo. The band refused to budge and the lyrics remained. Did Procol Harum shoot themselves in the foot by doing this? Probably, but that led to a looser and more relaxed album where anything was fair game. Brooker and company found it easy to rock out on Exotic Birds and Fruit on the bombastic and catchy album opener titled Nothing But the Truth. This song rocks even with a string accompaniment. The only song on the album to have one.

Following directly is an eastern European themed song tilted Beyond the Pale. Part homage to those "strange instruments that look like the inside of a piano", according to Brooker, and part tongue in cheek, the boys have more fun trying to make pitch shifted piano, mandolins, acoustic guitars, and even a banjo sound like a cross between bouzoukis and zithers, and they succeeded wonderfully, while lyricist Keith Reid congered up visions of a Europe seldom seen (or imagined?) by Western man.

Another hook laden song with a dramatic chorus, Beyond the Pale is the perfect opener before the magnificent Strong As Sampson's heavy bass and drums roll in. Drawn in by a mesmerizing organ and piano melody in the verse and Brooker's emotive and hook laden chorus, the song is capped off with a blistering organ solo by Chris Copping. Strong As Sampson couldn't have been performed better. The band were truly angry that so much of their recording time was eaten up by energy strikes, that they mean every word they sing and their anger and frustration is released in every note played on the song. Going beyond the immediate topic of strikes, Reid lays down his most damning lyrics ever, aimed at crooked psychiatrists and lawyers, misinforming clergy and the never ending Middle East conflict between Arabs and Jews.

The theme of greed continues on the song The Idol, and truthfully, we've all heard this before, but again, Brooker, Reid and company sound sincere in their disgust about obsessive gain. Not as powerful as Strong as Sampson, the song pales in comparison, but is fascinating for it's complex chord structures and multi dubbed piano parts.

Following directly is the the most outre song on Exotic Birds and Fruit. The Thin Edge of the Wedge is built up on numerous overdubbed arpeggios and exotic figures from Mick Grabham's electric guitar with eerie piano and percussion highlights. It's one of Procol Harum's darker songs and Brooker is totally convincing relaying some of Reid's most malevolent lyrics. It's difficult to imagine Neil Young making the recent guitar layered album tilted Le Noise without a nod to this eerie psychedelic outing.

Monsieur R. Monde is a raging rocker that shows off drummer BJ Wilson and bassist Allan Cartwright to great effect as well as showing the muscle of Grabham when he really wants to rock out. Unlike his predecessors, which includes the great Robin Trower, Grabham seems to serve the songs instead of competing with them and this particular song is the better for it. Fresh Fruit is a fun bouncy number penned almost entirely by Brooker and is filled with witty double entendres. The album closer New Lamps for Old is the perfect closing track for this album as it's slow organ and piano bring to mind early Porcol Harum and shows that the band remember where came from musically.

The original vinyl release of Exotic Birds and Fruit was flawed and hard to listen to due to poor mastering, but any new remaster from Castle Records to Salvo have proper EQing that lets producer Chris Thomas' dense but dynamic sound mix shine.

I'm not sure if Exotic Birds and Fruit is an essential prog album because I'm not really sure if it is really a prog album to begin with. But it's a hell of a rock album that anyone from a Styx fan to a Yes fan, I'm sure, would appreciate. 4 stars.

 Broken Barricades by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.30 | 119 ratings

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Broken Barricades
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by Boojieboy

3 stars Although this has strong production and sounds great with the 2009 remastered Salvo version, the songs are boring to me. Most of the songs repeat the same melody over and over. There's not much change within the songs. Some of the songs sound like they are trying like other bands (Bad Company on Memorial Drive, and Steppenwolf on Playmate of the Mouth). The only high points are the lush Luskus Delph and the rockier Simple Sister.

Of all the Procol albums, this is musically one of the most tedious and bland. Even though it sonically sounds great, the music isn't very inspired or adventurous.

Thankfully, Robin Trower left the group after this one. He had been holding back the group, trying to get the band to go in a bland blues-rock direction. Freed of this, the group soared on the next two albums with orchestra (Live at Edmonton and Grand Hotel).

 Grand Hotel by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.88 | 191 ratings

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Grand Hotel
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by Boojieboy

5 stars I rarely hand out 5-star ratings, but this album is grand enough and majestic enough to give it the edge. Also, all songs are worthy of listening to (not skipping over) and have something to offer. The remastering of this (2009, Salvo) gives it the sonic palette that brings it to the point of fine art. The packaging is nice too, with multipage libretto book of pictures, notes, and recording/background information. Production was handled by master producer Chris Thomas.

There's a nice variety and diversity to the songs which gives the album color and depth. Here are short summaries of the songs:

Grand Hotel - Big production with orchestra. A slower song that doesn't rush, because you don't need to rush grandness.

Toujours L'Amour - An uptempo song, with some interesting chord changes.

A Rum Tale - Quieter song featuring piano and some fun lyrics by the band's primo lyricist Keith Reid

A Souvenir of London - Mostly acoustic song where the band tries for a street musician feel. A lighthearted, fun song.

Bringing Home the Bacon - Probably the most rocky song on the album. Features some tasty drumming by ace drummer BJ Wilson. There is an exciting prog-like keyboard part that occurs between major song sections.

For Licorice John - This has phased piano to give a drowning sound/effect that goes with the lyrics. Highly English.

Fires (Which Burn Brightly) - Maybe a lesser song overall, but still featuring a very European sound.

Robert's Box - A most straightforward song to end the album, but still containing some interesting ideas.

Having heard all of their albums, this one defines what Procol Harum is/was all about. They never reached higher than this. If you get one album, this should be it.

 A Salty Dog by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.56 | 204 ratings

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A Salty Dog
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by ses

4 stars Captain heavy-hearted and his men welcome you to a doleful journey among weeping seamen and crying Valkyries, in this album on life at sea.

Before the release of "A salty dog", Procol Harum already had accomplished enough to earn their place in the history books. With a worldwide hit single and a ground breaking 17-minute rock suite in their baggage, bandleader Gary Brooker and his fellow musicians manage to redefine themselves with this 1969 classic.

The sound here mixes a wide variety of influences; from the bluesy feel in "The milk of human kindness" and "Juicy John Pink", to the orchestrated grandiose on "Wreck of the Hesperus". Maracas, flutes and xylophones lark on "Boredom", with the playground touch predating The Cures "Close to me" by nearly two decades.

Despite the nautical theme, the tone of the album is in many ways similar to The Bands self-titled masterpiece released the same year; the melancholy and Gary Brookers voice isn't that far away from the Americana in songs as "The unfaithful servant". Procol Harum does not however reach to the same heights as the rich and lush song writing their Canadian counterparts delivers. Album finisher "Pilgrim's progess" is merely a? paler version of "A whiter shade of pale". And the heavenly sensations of the title track (which by no doubt is one of the best songs of the 60's) make the rest of the offering look bleak.

To me, this is the peak of Procol Harums career. "A salty dog" sometimes sails on calm sea, but when the tides arrive, it is well worth the listen.

 Grand Hotel by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.88 | 191 ratings

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Grand Hotel
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by Dreamer of Pictures

4 stars I originally wrote a review of this album in the early 1970s for The Tech, published by Massachusetts Institue Of Technology students. That review is available online in a PDF of the edition in which the review was published, through www.mit.edu. I loved the album in general back then, though I had q few quibbles with a couple of tunes. Today I am delighted to say that the album has stood up well over the decades. The following Grand Hotel tracks are on my iPhone: Grand Hotel, Toujours l'Amour, a Rum Tale, For Liquorice John, Fires, and Robert's Box. That last one is mostly a modest paen to the gentleman's approach to addiction, but at the end develops into the heaviest non-orchestrated finish every recorded by Procol with Mick Grabham on guitar, a real delight.

I want to tell you the tale of the album cover.

While I was in college, my editor and I wrangled an interview with Brooker and Reid when PH came to Boston on the Exotic Birds tour in 1974. We met in their hotel room at the Sheraton in the Prudential Center, a very nice crashpad. I still have an Ektachrome slide or two that I shot of the duo in that room.

Most of the questions came from my editor, who was like me a fan and paid attention to detail. But the final question came from me, and it provoked quite a response. I knew cut & paste when I saw it, and it was quite clear that the front cover and the foldout in the Grand Hotel vinyl album cover included the head of new guitarist Mick Grabham atop the body of former guitarist David Ball.

So I asked them why the cut & paste had happened.

Both Brooker and Reid shot out of their chairs. They were outraged that anyone had actually caught them at that particular deception. Then, after a minute or so, Brooker calmed down and spilled the beans.

Ball was still in the band during both the photo sessions for the cover, shot in Los Angeles, and the recording sessions for the album, done in the UK. Then Ball quit PH before the album was released. The band had to decide what to do about that, and the contract deadline for the album was looming. They did not have time to hire a new guitarist, re-record the album, and travel to reshoot the photos. They could do two out of three, and the parting with Ball was not pleasant so the hiring task was first on the list. After hiring Mick Grabham, they re-recorded the album with him, and then faked the photos. Back then there was no Photoshop. And big album covers made it easy to see cut & paste. It is not so obvious on the relatively tiny photos in the CD release.

In 2003 I was fortunate to see PH perform yet again, performing at the Birchmere in Alexandria VA. This time they sat afterward to sign autographs. I handed my CD of Grand Hotel to Brooker for an autograph, and I reminded Brooker about that conversation 29 years earlier. He smiled and said Dave Ball does indeed appear on the cover. He turned over the CD to point at the champaign glass on the back. Indeed there he is. The entire band appeared among the bubbles, highly distorted by the curved glass and the liquid. Apparently their cut & paste guy could not figure out how to distort Mick's head to fit in that odd context.

The unreleased tapes of the Ball version of Grand Hotel may still exist somewhere. I happen to think Grabham was a far better fit for PH. And my editor was Neal Vitale, now a major publisher with a whole lot more money than any rock musician I ever interviewed.

 Procol Harum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.89 | 271 ratings

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Procol Harum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by MJAben

2 stars Innovative? Absolutely. Talented? Without a doubt. Interesting? Mostly. Well crafted? Well... no, not really. Some songs are absolutely fantastic, Whiter Shade of Pale, She Wandered Through the Garden Fence, Repent Walpurgis for example. Others are mediocre, Conquistador, Kaleidoscope, Cerdes for example. Others still seem downright out of place, Something Following Me, Mabel and Good Captiain Clack. The other two songs I haven't mentioned A Christmas Camel and Salad Days I feel fall somewhere between the fantastic and mediocre songs here, although they aren't bad they don't have that little extra something that the others do. In a way, they feel like they were trying to emulate and re-create some of the majesty in their stronger songs but they just come off as inferior.

I'm not going to go into the importance of this album, on which it would have to be rated higher, that being said, as it stands as an album, it ranges from some breathtaking melodies to an absolute mess (Mabel). I don't think the album is without it's merits, it has some incredibly strong music but the parts are greater than the whole here and some absolute masterpieces are brought down by other songs giving the album a very mixed feel.

 Grand Hotel by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.88 | 191 ratings

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Grand Hotel
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In my opinion, this is PROCOL HARUM`s most solid album from start to finish, with a lot of Progressive Rock arrangements, and it is maybe their most Progressive album. Maybe it also has some "pompous" and "bombastic" arrangements, but it is very good anyway. Even the cover design is a bit "pompous", but maybe this band always has had a tendency to it in many ways, even with Keith Reid`s lyrics. With Gary Brooker being the founder (with Reid) and the only original musician which remained from the original line-up of the band, he was by then the only composer of the music of the band, and he took the music direction and the control of the band in a right way, supported by a very good line-up of musicians which by 1973 had a new guitarist (Mick Grabham) and this line-up remained unchanged until 1976. In fact, this line-up came to my country to play some concerts at the "Auditorio Nacional" in Mexico City and in Guadalajara (another city in in my country) in late August 1975, and it seems that it happened because they were asked to play here by the then President of my country because one of his sons liked this band. Even the concerts from Mexico City were recorded and some parts of them were broadcasted in the then goverment`s TV channel (Canal 13, later privatized in 1993) in two one hour programmes in two sunday evenings in late 1975. All these things were by then very rare things to happen in my country because during the seventies Rock music concerts were mostly considered as being "out of the law" by the goverment, and the gigs from Mexican bands were done mostly as "clandestine" things. Also, some parts of the audience almost always caused riots, and it seems that some of this happened at the concerts that this band played in Mexico City, but it seems that there were not very big riots. I was ten years old then, and I did not attend those concerts, but some of my brothers, cousins and their friends went to one of those concerts. I only watched to both TV programmes, and one of my brothers recorded them in cassettes (from the TV speaker) which don`t work anymore. But anyway, I remember that the band played the "Grand Hotel" song in concert here, sounding very well.

I like all the songs from this album, which also include some humour in some songs like "A Souvenir of London" and "Bringing Home The Bacon", and even some Tango music arrangements in the title track. There are some orchestral arrangements done by Brooker for several songs, and in "Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) " there is a French soprano singer called Christianne Legrand singing a very good vocals arrangement. "Toujours l'Amour", "A Rum Tale" and "T.V. Ceasar" include some "heavy" playing by the band. New guitarist Grabham sounded very well integrated to the band`s musical style and sound.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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