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Procol Harum - Grand Hotel CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.89 | 247 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Four stars!

Recorded at a time when the band's star was waning rapidly, "Grand hotel" is actually a highly credible effort, with many fine melodic tracks. Gary Brooker's highly distinctive vocals dominate proceedings as usual, accompanied by a much changed line up from their previous studio album. The most significant change is the departure of guitarist Robin Trower, replaced here by Mick Grabham. The result of these changes was that Procol Harum effectively became Gary Brooker plus any other musicians he appointed. Keith Reid was still on board as lyricist, but it was Brooker who dictated the sound of the band.

The albums kicks off with the majestic title track, which slowly paints a picture of the days when no expense was spared when building luxury hotels. The track is surprisingly progressive in structure, Brooker's orchestration (not to mention 22 mandolins!) enhancing the Ritzy feel of the piece.

As a rule, Brooker focuses on ensuring that the songs here have strong melodies. Tracks such as "A Rum tale", a sort of sequel to "A salty dog", and "TV Ceasar" are carefully crafted and highly enjoyable pieces. They are relatively straightforward compositions with little real development, but the detailed arrangements give them a warm depth. The latter sees Brooker giving one of his wonderful, full range vocal performances.

Mick Grabham takes the opportunity to show that he too is a highly accomplished guitarist on the upbeat "Toujours L'Amour", although the song itself is one of the less memorable Procol Harum songs.

The second side of the album sees the quality dip slightly. "A Souvenir of London" is the quirky sort of folk tale (of an embarrassing disease) sung by pub singers up and down the country. "Bringing home the bacon" is another example of a basic song considerably enhanced by the arrangement. "Fires (which burn brightly)" is considerably enhanced by some wonderful vocalising by Christianne Legrand (of the Swingle Singers), her delicate voice contrasting perfectly with the gruff tones of Brooker's.

In all, "Grand Hotel" is a fine album which has not enjoyed the recognition it deserves. It is a perfect example of how good arrangements can transform average compositions into high quality songs.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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