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Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 387 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars From the warmly harmonious combination of piano and organ on their debut to this overwrought indulgence, PROCOL HARUM experienced a sea change in barely a year that some bands don't see in a lifetime, yet their essential sound remained oddly intact. The main differences are a greater degree of seriousness masquerading as tongue-in-cheek on the epic cut, an over-reliance on Robin Trower's grating guitars for fills, and, with the exception of a couple of tracks, a loss of their initial innocent yet world-weary knack for song development and melody. The latter may be considered a side effect of the first two.

I suppose it doesn't help that I never heard this in its entirety when it came out or even in the mid 1970s. The album went through an early period of being unavailable, so I picked up "Home", "Exotic Birds and Fruit" and eventually "Salty Dog" before ever hearing "Shine". But I doubt I would have liked it back then. It's true that "In Held Twas in I" was the first side long suite, but the earlier orchestrated MOODY BLUES album should get some credit for bringing this about, only in Procol's hands things get a good deal more bogged down. Probably the most memorable aspects remain the spoken parts and the mood setting keyboards that accompany them, and a small segment sung by Fisher. Brooker keeps threatening to shift into a rousing chorus of "Homburg", which initially seems like it would be a bad idea, but by the end we are pleading for it. Perhaps Robbie Robertson was partly right when he said that Procol kept trying to repeat the same song. I think they tried to create others but only knew how to do the one well. Trower's leads are indelicate, and the puffed up behemoth sounds like early BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST at their worst, and probably inspired them and others' suite spots for years to come.

Luckily, a couple of old styled numbers kick off the proceedings, the jaunty "Quite Rightly So" and the reflective title cut, both of which are compact tuneful songs that highlight the strengths of Matthew Fisher, Brooker's voice, and Reid's quirky vision while limiting Trower to digestible chunks. "Skip Softly" is actually a new idea that works well, beginning as a fuzzy honky tonk rocker and ending as a demented Ukrainian dance. But then are an equal number of uneventful songs followed by the flailing dinosaur.

Rather than shining on into the present day, this one has been flickering tediously since its inception. For historical value only.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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