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Procol Harum - Procol's Ninth CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

2.82 | 105 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars After the whitewashing debacle of "Exotic Birds and Fruit", one might expect the band to fold, but recording contracts or creative blinders being what they are, Brooker and co persisted for a couple more releases. With "Procol's Ninth", they underwent a bit of a commercial resurgence, with a localized hit single and a peak at 51 on the American charts. It turned out to be a blip more than a buzz, but it does mark a slight improvement over "Exotic", chiefly in the organic production of Lieber and Stoller, who teased out the R&B roots of the group respectfully and more effectively than had been achieved on "Broken Barricades". But this isn't a blues web site, so caveat emptor.

The opening cut "Pandora's Box" has a familiarity that will appeal to long time fans without being rehash, chiefly in the mystical narrative style as well as some of the keyboard runs, in particular one that is reminiscent of "In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence". Add in flutes and marimba to embellish the happy picture. While somewhat poppy, "The Final Thrust" is a fine tune, and one of several with a reggae-ish beat, although this one is less rhythm section oriented and more delivered by piano, as one would hope for from Procol. In the break, Brooker delivers a too-brief but playful solo. Chris Copping is on organ here and he fills out the sound amply. The other old-styled song is "The Piper's Tune", where Copping shines, yet you can also hear the L&S influence. All in all, the choice of producers was inspired, and even the cover of "I Keep Forgetting" is a worthwhile diversion and wholly convincing.

Unfortunately plenty of weaker tracks are strewn about and hastily assembled, like the pointless cover of "Eight Days a Week", the anonymous hard rock of "The Unquiet Zone", the faceless horn-fest R&B of "Without a Doubt" and "Taking the Time", and the the hackneyed later Procol sound of "Typewriter Torment".

Procol's Ninth is mostly a mix of the good and mediocre to poor, with only "Pandora's Box" being slightly better. If you enjoy the non progressive styles found herein, or are a Procol historian, I say go for it, but for the rest I must round down a few ninths.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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