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Procol Harum - Prodigal Stranger CD (album) cover

PRODIGAL STRANGER

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

2.41 | 77 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
1 stars Hard to guess why after so many years, Brooker re-formed Procol, but I had maximum expectations when I heard the both Mathew Fisher and Keith Reid were both part of it , but more unexpectedly so was Robin Trower. When I brought this disc home, I was a little disappointed with the track listing (and timings), the other members playing (this was not a real group) and even much more once the disc hit my deck and the laser touched it. I first ejected the disc to see if it was the right one, but sadly the record shop had done no mix-up. Note that having four oŕriginal members was quite a feat, Bronze on bass being quite a veteran also, this left thgedrum spot: Barry J Williams having deceased a year before, they had to replace this inimitable drummer (he was an integral part of the grezat Procol sound as was Fisher's Organ, Brooker's Piano and Trower wailing guitar lines) and they had to find somebody to FILL these shoes. And they chose the worst possible candidate: some good-drumming-renegade from the early 80's (the period where drumming was considered passé) and chose this ex-new waver from some rather bad group : Big Country.

What is particularly appalling on this record is its sound. Oh yes, you can recognize the usual Procol ingredients (namely Brooker's inimitable voice and his piano), but f#§k, was there something quite wrong (this was why I was wary of the line-up) and it was that typical hateful drumming sound. And might I add that it is mixed so bloody loud, that it actually spoils every single tracks and even the fun of hearing Trower's wails against Brooker's voice is simply not at the rendez-vous. The songwriting is not that much worse or better than previous Procol albums of the mid-70's (apart from one or two stinker such as King Of Hearts which could sound from the most syrupy Phil Collins albums), but that ugly drum sound ruins it all (what can one expect from a new waver anyway?). Fisher's Hammond organ is also buried in and Trower's guitars are also too discreet. Both get only three and two co-writing credits respectively, which gives you more than a hint of their actual involvement on the construction of the album. On a positive note Keith reid's lyrics are rather good.

Best avoided if you ask me unless an unconditional fan (the next albums are much better because they have lost that ugly 80's sound), but maybe one day if Gary Brooker decides to do a remixing of and re-recording of this album, then it could become an average album. Trower refused to tour with the group (probably because the drummer was appaling) prompting the band to hire Geoff Whitehorn and he has been with the band since.

Only my respect for Procol Harum's overall oeuvre stops me from being more severe in my rating.

Sean Trane | 1/5 |

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