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


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.92 | 322 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is of course among the records that, as well as being a marvelous collection of tunes, inadvertently tested the Prog waters - the style's viability in a competitive market - with a sensitive blend of quality rock, baroque, pop balladry and black soul. Sadly the LP was mostly a commercial flop in Britain but for the chemistry and skill of the players; a stone blimp heard by a handful of fans and musicians instead of flying off shelves as it would have if timeless classic & multi-million seller 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' had been on the damn thing in '67. The Westside remaster from 1998 sounds terrific though, and Procol Harum's debut was and is a beautiful piece of work that has aged with exceptional grace.

Denny Cordell did indeed mix Procol Harum with a live feel; a big, delicious open-air sound that helped the "church of rock" quality it has. Gary Brooker's riveting Ray Charles vocals enhancing Keith Reid's words, Matthew Fisher's light touch on the Hammond, Trower's restrained guitar and the always attentive support of Wilson/Knights made for a great show from start to finish. 'Conquistador' is an acceptable rock bit, but evidently before she came in through the bathroom window 'She Wandered Through the Garden Fence' with Reid's breathless lyric and our first glimpse of Matt Fisher's taste for Bach. Flat out dirge 'Something Following Me' is a New'Awlins beaut as it lumbers down the street under the weight of a casket, 'Cerdes' a classic Harum drone with slowly building waves of feeling, and 'A Christmas Camel' is an absolute joy, as good as anything they ever did. Large and brilliant 'Kaleidescope' heavy with Hammond but lifted by Brooker's voice, 'Salad Days' is the late 1960's on a plate with patchouli, seashells, doses, incense and myrrh, and mysterious 'Repent Walpurgis' finishes the original issue.

Just a damn fine release that remains a trailblazer showing rock could and would evolve, and simply one of the best albums of its time. One that reminds us the active and forward progression of rock was becoming not just a genre or even a movement, but an all-encompassing reality. A Grand Era of Prog that was not to be denied by critic nor listener when the artists were in charge of the art if not the asylum, represented here in one of its earliest stages, lovingly preserved for our pleasure and revelry.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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