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Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 387 ratings

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A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 1968's 'Shine On Brightly' is truly a little art rock gift from the famous British band Procol Harum, best known for their 1967 hit single 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' (that has sold more than ten million copies by now). Being the band's second full-length studio album, it is obviously a continuation and somewhat of an expansion of the sound of their self-titled psychedelic/baroque-pop tinted rock debut LP. 'Shine On Brightly', however, dares to break some new ground, it dares to be more adventurous, and perhaps for the first time, more progressive. Whether universally accepted as one or not, this record has to be fabulous example of at least proto-prog (if not full-blown progressive rock), with the grandeur of the 17-minute multi-part album closer 'In Held 'Twas In I', properly titled from an acrostic and signifying nothing. It does not get more prog than that, at least in 1968.

'Shine On Brightly' features Gary Brooker on vocals and piano, Robin Trower on guitar and vocals, Matthew Fisher on piano, organ and vocals, Dave Knights on bass guitar, B. J. Wilson on drums, and finally, Keith Reid's lyrics. Side one is occupied by a couple of nice, more radio-friendly psych-pop tracks, definitely good material, as the band display fine songwriting skills as well as lovely instrumentation. Then side two opens with another 3-minute song in the same vein as the ones found on side one (maybe a tad bit more obscure, but still good), just to let the big winner of the album to unfold before the ears of the listeners - 'In Held 'Twas In I', or the first really big progressive rock epic. The band were quite ambitious for assembling this great composition, linking together all the different parts in a gorgeous manner, pretty much in the spirit of what would become a recognizable trait of many long songs representing the 70s art rock revolution in the face of bands like Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP, Genesis, Crimson, Floyd and many more. The song also features various influences, another testimony for its prog credentials, stepping firmly into symphonic rock, classical, baroque pop, and eventually a bit of psychedelia, alongside the narrative of the first part 'Glimpses of Nirvana'.

All in all, 'Shine On Brightly' is from one side the proof that Procol Harum was not just some one-hit wonder band, also acknowledging the fact that they went on to release good albums after this one, and from another, it is a great collection of early, more accessible art rock songs, full of energy, picturing an interesting episode in the development of one of rock music's most enigmatic and pompous subgenres.

A Crimson Mellotron | 4/5 |


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