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Procol Harum - Something Magic CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.00 | 125 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I have to admit that I have gone through a sort of mental transformation concerning this album. I really like Procol Harum and have enjoyed their previous albums but when I got to "Something magic" I suppose something had died. At least was that my impression when I bought an old vinyl copy of the album about ten years ago. I was eager to listen to i for two reasons:

1) I like Procol Harum. 2) An epic three piece suite that lasts for 19 minutes must be Heard.

Now, I couldn't have been more disappointed or rather indifferent to what I Heard. Side 1 was, well, boring. The epic covering the whole of side 2 was, well, pointless? I listened to the whole album a couple of times before it silently slipped back into the vinyl collection, doomed to never return.

But now I am older, somewhat wiser and time has proven to be a healer of many a things. I suppose that the mere existence of this album has haunted me over the years. Lingering on. Making itself known, like an old wound. I have revisited this wretch of an album and I have sincerely changed my mind. It's not all that bad. Really, it's not.

Firstly, is it a "tired" album by a bunch of aging, dying dinosaurs making Music in the eclipse of extinction? I have to say no. The do not sound tired at all. I think it's quite a focused album, though maybe not that well thought through. Yes, it was released in 1977 and I do think that other occurences than punk owe debt to alot of old prog bands going under. The public having grown tired of overblown pomp? Maybe. This album is a Little of both. It holds shorter, radio friendly tracks and one truly impossible but endearing track in the sidelong epic.

The album opens up nicely with orchestrated grandeur. The title track is really Procol Harum. Great instrumentation, great lyrics and an ambiance that is really powerful. A really good track, The second track is very much a "Hello, it's 1915" song. An oddity but nice enough. "Wizard man" is slightly late 70's country rock/pop. Not very progressive but a decent song.

After the opening trio of songs we head into hard rock territory on "The mark of the claw". This is really a fantastic piece of hard rock. Ominous and dark with a great riff and the synth solo is to die for. It hits me really hard. "Strangers in space" is Procol Harum going space rock without being too much out there. It is a spacious, Electric piano driven piece that really is decent. I think they manage to portray the infinite space of space (!) and the loneliness one (probably) would feel up there, all alone and needing a restroom real bad.

So far the album has shown some promise. Good tracks, varied in moods and textures. Decent enough. Having said that we head into the epic.

"The worm and the tree" is a suite in parts, totalling about 19 minutes. Yes, I can hear thousands of prog mouths watering but wait a minute. Something is a miss here and I'll tell you what it is. Gary Brooker had this poem by Keith Reid called "The worm and the tree". No, it is not the content of the poem that's the problem. I like fairytale lyrics in prog. Why do you think I love early King Crimson? Gary Brooker chose to recite the poem over a musical background. Is it really that bad? No, it isn't. Would I have wished for him to sing the poem? Yes. ABsolutely. Is the epic now destroyed, torn into shreads of litter? No, it isn't.

If one just focuses on the music that makes up "The worm and the tree" there is nothing to complain about. It is really brilliant and multifacetted with a lot of great instrumentation. The narration itself, well nothing wrong but the track would have been a lot better if Brooker had sung it instead or maybe recited only parts and sung the rest. As it stands it is a narrative accompanied by music. So, how does it fare? My complaning aside it is a lot better than it's reputation. It is a great listen, actually. The well crafted music is too good to blame Procol Harum for just filling up the B-side of the album and really there are no fillers on "Something magic". I really enjoy "The worn and the tree", warts'n'all.

When I summarize my experience I think that this album is underrated and unjustly scorned. It holds some great tracks ("SOmething magic", "The mark of the claw" and "The worm and the tree") plus some okay ones. It is not an essential album for anyone, Procol Harum fan or not. But it is an endearing album full of warmth and effort that is really enjoyable.

I reward it with Three shining stars and a kiss of appreciation.

GruvanDahlman | 3/5 |


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