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Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 387 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For their second album (which deserved, at least, as much attention and success as their debut milestone album) Procol Harum decided to reinforce the artsy ambitions of their initial musical direction, and at the same time, elaborate a darker edge to their sound without making it obtuse or dissonant. Actually, it's weird that they managed to sound stronger while Trower's guitar appearances became a bit less relevant than in their debut (and in rockier PH albums such as "Broken Barricades" or "Home"), but still the interaction between organ and piano and the guitar leads display lots of energy. Of course, drummer Wilson proves to be a real force of nature when he uses his skills for both installing the rhythm pace for the songs and adding textures to the moods provided by his fellow instrumentalists. "Shine On Brightly" is, to my ears, a more relevant milestone than the band's debut for the seminal process of progressive rock, since the symphonic style of the intrumentations is meticulously worked throughout the entire album. The opener 'Quite Rightly So' and the namesake song keep a vibe very closely related to the spirit of the debut album's more dramatic songs: Fisher's hammond ornaments and leads shine rightly so in these two songs. His instrument remains solid on a prominent role for track 3, a song that travels from Beatlesque moods to exotic Flamenco-like ambiences to Dvorak-inspired Hungarian dance. Track 4 takes a trip to the realms of blues with an added touch of Gospel, while track 5 combines the melodic vibration of psychedelic art rock British style with some more of that bluesy spirit coming from North America. The second half of the album is the most accomplished, and it starts with the beautiful ballad 'Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone'), built on the martial cadence of a bolero tempo. This less-than-3- minutes long expression of candor serves as a proper intermission time before the majestic suite 'In Held 'Twas in I' takes the listener's attention by storm. This magnificent opus was conceived and recorded before VdGG's 'Plague' and Genesis' 'Supper', so it would be fair to say that the latter two found a portion of their inspiration in this Procol Harum absolute gem. 'In Held...' kicks off with a soliloquy delivered on a minimalistic psychedelic mood centered around organ layers and seasoned by sitar phrases; after a rockier brief interlude comes another soliloquy, this time spoken on a very Baroque piano motif by the poet himself, Keith Reid. Then comes a merry circus motif that seems to send a message of bitter irony rather than pure fun. The 'In the Autumn of My Madness' section portrays a similar vein to that of their archetypical song 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', albeit with a somewhat lighter feel so it can fit Fisher's singing. The following section is introduced by a reprise of one motif that had appeared after the first soliloquy, and by the time we get to the main motif we find a most compelling progressive ballad, based on dialogues between piano and harpsichord, and later, pertinently seasoned by an amazing guitar solo in the instrumental bridge. The 'Grand Finale' is another ballad, this time all instrumental and bearing an immense orchestral feel: the chorale enhances the majesty of this fantastic closure, and once again, Trower's leads fill their appointed spaces in a most defining manner. A grand finale for a very important album - this is one of the best Procol Harum efforts albums ever.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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