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Procol Harum - Procol Harum [Aka: A Whiter Shade Of Pale] CD (album) cover

PROCOL HARUM [AKA: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE]

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.92 | 322 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Procol Harum's debut album was knocked together in a hurry to capitalise on the success of the Whiter Shade of Pale single (available on most editions of the album aside from the original UK and German releases). Whilst it's historically significant as one of the first albums to present an undeniably progressive style of rock music (distinguished mainly by the interplay of Matt Fisher's organ and Gary Brooker's piano, along with Brooker's soulful delivery of Keith Reid's oblique lyrics), at the same time the material here doesn't really match the quality of the single that preceded it.

Robin Trower's guitar skills are the major addition - he didn't appear on A Whiter Shade of Pale - but whilst he is able to break out interesting solos on Cerdes (Outside the Gates of) or A Christmas Camel - he's clearly a late addition to the mix and his lead guitar is often not very much of a presence at all, Trower only stepping in here and there to add an accent or flourish to songs, which are based not around guitar riffs but piano and organ. Likewise, the rhythm section of Knights and Wilson do a competent but not especially attention-grabbing job.

On top of that, the album presents some downright bizarre decisions when it comes to which tracks to include. It's bad enough that some editions don't even include A Whiter Shade of Pale - which is far and away the best Procol Harum song from this era - but to add insult to injury there's some downright appalling filler material on here, The worst offenders are the trite music hall numbers Mabel and Good Captain Clack, which don't fit in the spirit of the rest of the album, ruin the flow, and just aren't very good songs - they're goofy as hell and the only good thing to be said about them is that they're only 90 seconds long.

It speaks a lot for Procol Harum that most of the material on the album is somewhat stronger, but even so the band were still coalescing at this stage, and this release demonstrates that producing one fluke single doesn't mean a group is ready to put out a full album.

Warthur | 3/5 |

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