George Starostin's Reviews



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Joan May <> (03.09.99)


Enjoyed reading your reviews of the Procol Harum albums! A few corrections, additions, clarifications:

On 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' (the hit single, which was also the version included on the album), the drummer was the great session man Bill Eyden, not Bobby Harrison (Harrison can be heard on the rejected outtake included on the recent Box Set, and his drumming is way inferior to Eyden's, in my opinion)

See Eyden's page at:

and the page devoted to the song at:

Matthew Fisher was classically trained (unlike Gary Brooker) and he (Fisher) was the one who brought most of the classical/Bach/Baroque influence into the band's sound. Fisher is the uncredited composer of the organ melody of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', and influenced Brooker in the classical direction thereafter. Most of the band's truly Bach/Baroque sounding songs (as compared to other classical influences such as the Romantic composers) are due to Fisher's organ lines, which were emulated (but never equaled) by Copping later on. Fisher also composed in Classical/Romantic styles on 'Hesperus' and some of 'Repent Walpurgis'.

Fisher is the composer of 'Repent Walpurgis' and (in my opinion) the best parts of "In Held Twas In I" -- 'In the Autumn of my Madness' and 'Grand Finale'. He played and composed (uncredited) the lovely piano solo on the latter.

The title for 'In Held...' is a combination of the first word of each of the sections.

Fisher played the great piano on 'Wreck of the Hesperus' (uncredited until very recently on the ASD PLUS CD).

Come visit the page devoted to Fisher at:

Robin Trower wasn't really influenced by Jimi Hendrix until the Broken Barricades album. Prior to that his main influences were the original bluesmen such as B.B. King, and he mainly had his own style, influenced by Fisher in the classical direction, making him sound like a wild electric freaked out cello -- especially on the first album (his best, in my opinion, and his! -- see his 1980 Guitar Player Interview on the page devoted to him):

The singer who butchered 'Grand Hotel' on the Symphonic album was Jerry Hadley, not Tom Jones. Jones butchered 'Simple Sister'.

B.J. Wilson (RIP) died in 1990, not 1989. Thanks for acknowledging his greatness in your review of Grand Hotel and Prodigal Stranger - it sure sounds different without him, doesn't it!!! Come visit BJ's page at:

Kenneth Willis <> (13.09.99)

i am delighted to find that there is somebody else out there who rates Procol Harum as highly as i do. Yes, Keith Reed is a poet and a brilliant one at that.

Yes, one of Procol's strengths is the way they contrast the piano and the organ, and, speaking of organs, i agree with Joan May's comments. Matthew Fisher is under-rated and his absence is notable -- as good as the other organists were -- as can be demonstrated by listening to Prodigal Stranger.

Straightaway there is a feel to Procol Harum that hasn't been there since A Salty Dog and it makes a very welcome return. True, Fisher is not the only one returning -- Robin Trower has also been sadly missed. and his presence on this album is another factor in making this a "proper" Procol album. Trower, for me, is another guitarist who deserves to be so much more well known than he is (Steve Hackett being another, but that's another story!).

Tim Ehrgott <> (22.02.2000)

Appreciate the site. Was surprised at your comment about the group's musicianship. I remember talking to an old rocker who had been around in the '60s, and he just raved about their abilities, thought they were one of the best bands ever when it came to abilities. Seems to fit other things I've read.

Anyway, been a Procol fan ever since I first heard the concert version of 'Conquistador'. Still listening to it and loving the different versions of the song I've collected, along with the others.

Some other comments after reading your reviews:

There seem to be a lot of Matthew Fisher sycophants out there, who want to bolster his contribution to the band at the expense of Brooker. Was he important? Absolutely. Was he the best? No, but then PH was at its best when it incorporated all its players.

Eric Carmen used some Rachmaninoff in songs.

'Whiter Shade of Pale' was not a Bach song: Bach-inspired. See PDQ Bach's comments.

'In Held Twas in I': First word of each section of the song forms the title, I believe. I disagree with your estimation of this piece. Think of it as a symphony. The Buddhist section was a joke at their own expense.

'Song for a Dreamer' -- an absolute Hendrix ripoff.

'Broken Barricades' -- a wonderful drum piece by Wilson. And you're right, he was much more responsible for PH's success that people realize.

Each album the same sound? No, no, no. Each album has a different focus and a different sound. BB sounds nothing like GH. To me, they were trying something different each time. The overall style may be narrow, as with any band, but within that, there is great variety. Compare 'WSoP' with 'Still There'll be More' to 'Simple Sister' to 'Grand Hotel'.

The concert album was an event thrown together quickly. Brooker was not lazy, he had no time to prepare. Wasn't there just one or two rehearsals?

They also left off 'Simple Sister' from that album. That was a shame. But it is the finest rock/classical album ever done. Driving music, nothing like the Moody Blues muzak attempts. The orchestra and the band are on equal footing. Also, the end of 'All This and More', with the interplay of the guitar, the voices, and the horns is just fantastic, one of the highlights of their career.

Disagree on your opinion of PH's 9th (8 Days? Ugh. What were they thinking?) and Something Magic, altho the latter does have some pleasant music.

Finally, you need to listen to The Long Goodbye some more. I had a similar, initial reaction. But look at it for what it is, just an attempt to come at PH from a different angle, not to top the originals. It's sort of a classical/Broadway take on it. And Tom Jones did not do 'GH', he did 'Simple Sister', which is terrific in spite of him. And 'the Long Goodbye' is just gorgeous, as is the opening to 'WSoP'. Do I like it better than the original? No way, but it helps me understand and appreciate the song better.

Listen to it again and again, and you may come to like it. It is now one of my favorite PH albums, altho it may be because it is an "easier" listen and that is more conducive to my middle-aged life.

Great site. Sorry for the long comments. I first heard 'Conquistador' at the age of 15, listening to an intercom in our basement while working on my HO railroad. Been a lover of their music ever since.

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

SAD is the right word.Nowadays,Procol is known as the "whiter shade of pale " band,period.Nobody tries to find these burried treasures that abound in such masterworks as home , a salty dog,grand hôtel or exotic birds and fruit while for ,say,the Who,there are praises,rapture and admiration.Procol,one of the greatest groups for melodic sumptuousness,IMHO,the second one for that.I won't mention who I put on first,because it's so obvious!Those who want to know this group -a must, a repeat for those who are melody buffs- might well begin with a salty dog.And avoid the last two albums ninth and something magic,only for completists!

Geronimo Springs <> (10.03.2001)

One of the amazing qualities of Procol Harum was their ability to come back after losing key members of the group, and then record albums that actually surpassed their previous efforts. When Matthew Fisher and Dave Knights left the group after A Salty Dog, one would have expected them to disband. But no, they brought Chris Copping back into the fold and recorded Home, one of their best albums. Then Robin Trower decided to leave after Broken Barricades. They recruited Alan Cartwright and Mick Grabham and went on to record Grand Hotel, another great album.

Although Procol Harum never achieved the level of commercial success necessary to be considered "stars", when one listens to almost any of their albums it is not hard to understand why their fans have remained so loyal to them all the way up to the present day. Haunting, thoughtful, often darkly funny lyrics sung in a beautifully soulful voice backed by a group capable of mastering practically any genre of music they cared to try. And all done in a remarkably offhand manner that made even their most ambitious songs sound simple. What's not to love?

<> (13.01.2002)

I stumbled on this site through a search for Procol Harum info and 7 hours later I find myself having to write to you.

If I may use this opportunity to digress a momnet, I shall provide a bit of background, move into an actual image for you and then return to my original idea, which was to share a Procol experience with you.

I am 47 years old, and as such, have had the great pleasure to recall the release of about 75% of the albums you review, as well as attend live performances of many of the bands. Because I live in a major American market, Chicago, the opportunity to see almost any act out there was a very real possibility. Depending on the time period it was not uncommon to have pairings such as Yes and the Eagles, King Crimson and Peter Frampton, New Riders and King Crimson, Iron Butterfly and Fleetwood MAc (Peter Green version) Moody Blues and Allman Brothers at such great intimate places like the Kinetic Playground and the Aragon Ballroom, long before Arena-rock became standard fair.

While I thoroughly enjoy the majority of your reviews and in most cases tend to agree, there is one element which is missing from your analyses...and that is one of historical perspective. It is one thing to select a band, scan its discography, then race out to acquire all releases, listen and comment. It is quite another to enter a record store and discover the latest Beatles or Rolling Stone or Mott the Hoople release had been put out for purchase, with a sign in the window announcing they would be coming to town in the next month. It was that kind of excitement and anticipation, minus the bombastic media onslaught currently in vogue, which created an atmosphere and aura of excitement and anticipation which increases the enjoyment of the discovery of these bands' new material.

Yes and ELP are excellent examples. With the release of Close to the Edge and ELP came an incredible sense of newness and revelation at the uniqueness of their sound, and while it may be that there were heraldings of such possibilities in the music of the Nice and Atomic Rooster and King Crimson, nonetheless the sound was so full of energy and different, that it consumed us for days on end. And the concerts were cataclysmic events heretofore unwitnessed, as the idea of a band merely playing had exploded into a production never before seen. Musical pigeonholes had not yet been fully created so the idea of prog rock or glam rock or whatever had not yet really developed. It was just new and fun.

So it is in that context that what can now be considered monotonous, redundant, overblown or pretensious is at one and the same time true bit not true. I give a listen today, twenty, twentyfive, thrity years later and kinda chuckle because , yeah, the stuff does sound shopworn and overblown, but wasn't it fun anyway. At least these lads were ambitious...(although i NEVER could stand Jon Anderson's lyrics.) And thus it is, or was with a large number of the bands and their releases in those rioutous times of the 60's and 70's. In time, the music had begun to slide into corporate controlled commercialism and the music began to lose a great deal of its freshness and vitality...but that is how art always is...until some new madman makes a bold and new discovery......and it too then gets metamorphised into bland and commercial and the circle goes on (meet the new boss..same as the old boss.) But I digress...the whole point is that without that personal experience, a sense of excitement is lost....but I will say you come as close to understanding much of what went on in the context of that music as you can, even without the experience of having been there. But again, without that perspective, it is easy to lose sight of that intangible which permeates the anticipation of opening that new release of one's favorite band, or its offshoots, and hearing it for the very first time. Your perspective is one viewed from the exalted position of knowing about what you are about to listen to before you listen.

I shall give two concrete examples, then wrap it up with a Procol commentary. The Grateful Dead were at best, average on vinyl, and with the exception of 'DarkStar/ St. Stephen' and 'China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider' (Europe 72) their live recordings were just okay. But in person, the aura, magic and sheer power of the Dead were in abundant evidence..and their musical abilities and inventiveness and strength of performance were second to none. From 1970 through 1981 I saw them over 25 times and never once did I see the same set, nor songs performed in the same way, nor did the length or duration of any show repeat itself. they reinvented nightly and those lucky enough to get tickets for shows on consecutive nights would never see the same concert. Name ANY other band willing to take those kind of risks..and pull it off. Sure there were weak moments, sloppy moments and heights of dizzying perfection, but it was full of energy, music and FUN. Thus, the Dead more than just outlived everyone else in terms of touring and recording durability, they also lived, day in and day out the credo of rock music...just play man, just play.

Pink Floyd was another example. My first Floyd concert was for the Dark Side of the Moon tour. The album was released in Chicago the day before they hit town. My tickets had been purchased because I had been wiped out by Obscured by Clouds. (I, too, find it their most concise and tight album). Discovering DSOTM the day before the concert and hearing for the first time on HEADPHONES in my room was a discovery of a new universe or inventing new calculus......I was floored. I raced to my buddy Jeff's house (he was going wtih me the next night) and we listened , simultaneously on two sets of headphones, using a new gadget called a split patch chord, and by the end of the album, all we could repeat over and over...we are going to see Floyd tomorrow...rock on!!!!. And see them we did and what a concert to behold as well as listen to. the first two hours was everything from UmmaGumma (Live parts), 'Echoes' and three Obscured cuts. ..then a 15 minute intermission...then the ENTIRE Dark Side album....then an encore of ..are you ready......'Arnold Layne' and 'One of These Days', tell me, in THAT context, how can one not be anything but in LOVE with DSOTM, or any Pink Floyd for that matter...for now their studio stuff had been enhanced by the live experience...and on it went with band after band after band. And once again, it is that perspective which is missing in your otherwise splendid review compendium.

Now...for my Procol Story. I always enjoyed Procol HArum, although this was one band that I called my own. Other than a couple of my college buddies, no one gave Procol their due, and even they were not as avid as I was. We saw them in April of 1974 and were sufficiently impressed to turn them into one of the regular groups whose music we featured at parties and informal get togethers...but they did not come through Chicago again until spring of 1977. Twelve of us bought tickets and made the trek to a smallish theatre in a rather run down part of the unusual venue for this band...but perfect in terms of intimacy and sound quality. To our surprise, and that of the band, only about 200 people showed up in a place built to hold 1500-1750. But, being the pros that they were, they took the stage and began their set. With the completion of the first couple of songs, we had all moved to get as close to the stage as possible, and we were all obviously rabid fans as we all cheered madly with each performed number. After the fourth tune, 'Whaling Stories', Gary Brooker, stood up, walked to the edge of the stage and looking down into us said, almost with a tear in his eye, that although he had been before larger crowds, never had the audience been so intense and enrgizing as we were. He told us, the band feels you up here, and as we wind down what is most likely going to be our last American tour, we want to thank you for your support and your love. And then he said...we are throwing out our song list...we'll take requests and let's see where that takes us shall Whiter Shade...we are much more than that , you know. Need I go was a music lover's dream come true..and one after the other, the requests came out and one ofter the other were performed (Brooker, Chris Copping, Davey Johnstone, yes him, on guitar, Dee Murray, yes him too, on bass, BJ on drums)....three hours later...they stopped...or at least tried....(the crowd cried out for more) and came back for an encore, made up of 'grand hotel', 'bringing home the bacon', and 'repent walpurgis'......and still we screamed for more...and the most wonderful thing happened.....Gary sat down and signalled to Chris Copping who proceeded to begin that dirgelike, yet orgasmic organ intro into 'Whiter Shade of Pale'..........and by the time they were done, there was not a dry tear in the house, neither us nor them, for we all knew, had this understanding that we were witnessing the end of Procol Harum.

And thus my love affair with the band became an everlasting monument ...for even if 'Poor Mohammed' sucks, or 'In Held Twas in I' is overwrought and weak and the Home album is depressing and dark, it is still the music of a band who, for one night at least, understood our love for them and them for us. As did the Grateful Dead day in and day out. And the Moody Blues live. And Badfinger. And Sly Stone. these people lived for making music, to the best of their abilities and we loved listening to it and living it and reaching out to it as they tried to reach out to us. So when you pen your reviews, and they are right on most of the time, musically at least, please try to understand and factor in, that it is the spirit of their efforts which must also be considered. Tread lightly where you might want to step down heavily, for they all have something in common that neither you nor I have to offer...and that is they took the time, the personal love and the drive to at least put themselves out there for us to either love or hate musically...and in many cases, in doing it for themselves, they found the means, more often than not to do it for us as well. they at least are out there trying to make the music..something I Know I cannot even begin to fathom.

Keep up the great obviously have touched my personal lost chord, and through your energetic and thoroughly entertaining analysis have reawakened the slumbering giant within me and allowed me to remember and relive the wonderful experiences of discovering music that was the forefront of the social revolutions which changed our world.....excuse me while I go pull out my Disraeli Gears and put it on the have rekindled my love for all that music meant to me as i grew up in the good ole US of A.

Nicholas Rogerson <> (09.05.2003)

Well, I read yours and the reviews of many others, and thought, 'great, a band that combines the rocking guitar of Robin Trower with keyboard based majesty influenced by my favourite composer, JS Bach. I've gotta get some of that.' So I did. Well.....a lot of the material is just absolute ecstasy for me. I adore the way 'Repent Walpurgis' combines the classically styled organ and piano of Fisher and Brooker with the rumbling guitar of Trower. The climax is just spellbinding. I love 'Cerdes' for similar reasons. Trower's guitar sounds so mighty bursting through thick keyboard layers. He seems to sound so much more diverse here, than he does on his solo albums. There's only so much note bending and effects box mastery I can cope with! 'Homburg' should have got higher than number 6 in the Charts. I really like 'The Devil Came From Kansas', if only for the absolutely, absolutely brilliant Trower lines. The way his ending solo goes from speaker to speaker is awesome. 'A Salty Dog' has to be one of the most atmospheric songs I've heard.

Interestingly I thought they sounded a bit like early Floyd on a few songs. 'In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence' for instance. 'Mabel' sounds slightly Kink-ish too.

Anyway, a wonderful band, and I thank you for drawing my attention to them. A rating of 3 is certainly justified.

Carlo Fiore <> (21.05.2004)

Hello, I would like to say something 'bout Gary Brooker/Rod Argent "keyboardism".  


Full of majestic and classical influences, not so virtuosistic.

Strenghtness : The competence in creating an "unique" atmosphere and in giving to the Procol's songs a classy touch, in other words you'llever recognize that band's numbers by Brooker's organ

Weakness :   The tendence in annoying in some parts and the mediocrity of some, unnecessary, passages.  


Groovy, jazzy, so much diverse, and tremendously melodic.

Strenghtness : He always plays FOR the song, also in the last Argent period, you often could sing his solos (so  try with Time of the Season or Pleasure).

Weakness : Mainly the Rod's ego. When he tries to persuade us he's a keyboard wiz, he fails...

Christopher Kissel <> (02.04.2006)

Those interested in finally hearing a stereo mix of the HIT VERSION of "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" can find it here: http:// I must point out that this is indeed the HIT VERSION and NOT the stereo alternate take which had previously been released!


<> (21.11.99)

I think 'Whiter Shade of Pale' is the most wonderful song in the world. I absolutely love it.

Nick Einhorn <> (03.06.2000)

Forget about the single - this is a great album. The best songs are "Outside The Gates Of Cerdes", "Something Following Me", and of course "Whiter Shade of Pale". "Cerdes" has a great riff, some excellent organ work (I've always like Fischer's playing), and eerie lyrics that sound like a lineup on judgement day. "Something" is according to Gary Brooker the first song he ever wrote, but you wouldn't know it; it sounds very sophisticated here. Of course nothing hasn't already be said about "Whiter Shade", but it is a clever song (based on Bach's "Air on the G String") with interesting lyrics and smoothly interplaying keyboards. The absence of guitar is one of the best things on this track; I find Trower to be the weak link of the band, being a poor Hendrix rip-off who doesn't really fit in with the two-keyboard sound. Fischer's one track, "Repent Walpurgis" is also great, and all of the other songs (except for "Conquistador", which I HATE) are at worst listenable, and usually quite charming.

Plus, if you get the CD, you get "Homburg" thrown in, which I think is even better than "Whiter Shade". I mean, listen to the lyics: "Your multilingual business friend has packed her bags and fled..."

Auberon Suger <> (18.01.2001)

George asks -- why all the gorgeous classical-style rock compositions are based on Bach and not on Mozart. Good question. I think one answer is that Bach was much easier to imitate in the limits of a rock song. His melodies are catchy and simple, especially his fugues (note to Clash, Stones and Limp Bizcut fans -- J.S. Bach was a classical composer from back before the Beatles and he played keyboards, sort of like Jerry Lee Lewis).

Yes, that's the baroque style -- a repeated, simple melody with new elements tossed in every fourth measure.

Mozart's melodies, on the other hand, usually take longer to develop so they probably don't fit into the rock structure as well. Procul Harum might have been one band to try it though. I think the Nice tried a Mozart piece once (I could be wrong about that).

There hasn't been anything like Procol's first few albums in decades. Nothing today comes close.

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

THe webmaster's rating is very high and however I dare say it's not in my procol top 5!There are ,outside "shade of pale",some commendable tracks ,"conquistador" "salad days" and mainly "repent walpurgis",but it was made hastily and it sometimes sounds accordingly so.It's a good start but outside pale,great Procol ,IMHO,definitely not.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (15.06.2001)

Oh, boy, there ARE such records... I tell you, it's the first real pleasant shock / surprise since George Harrison's All things must pass. And all other Procol's stuff is rather feeble comparing to this record. I agree, Procol can't get more than 3, but this album should be on the same level with best Beatles'albums - 15 scores. And, man, that was 1967 year - Sgt. Pepper, Disraeli gears, The doors and other not so revolutionary records. In my opinion, the best year in rock music.

Whiter shade of pale (or Procol Harum as it was called on my release) is arguably the best record of art rock. And, yes, it's revolutionary! In all interviews Garry never took the fame of mixer rock and classic music but who else could ever think about this wonderful idea?

I said before that all other Procol's records are weak, comparing to their debut but don't get me wrong. I just wanted to say that we never had a chance to face such resonance and amazing song writing skill at the same time on their later albums. I suppose I don't have to say that I like every song on this masterpiece - everything is really that good. First five tracks can hold your breath and make you listen them during the whole day - at least that's what happened to me the day I bought Shade of pale. The best song on album, IMHO, is 'Conquistador'. And do you know what is the most amazing about it? It's only 2 and a half minutes long! That's a real paradox how such a short song can make you cry (I'm serious). 'Whiter shade of pale' is even better in resonance sense, but musically it's a bit weaker.

Besides, please, notice 'Mabel', at least for me. This funny and very atmospheric cut (love that plates crashing!!!) is always overshadowed by timeless surious classics. But don't be fooled! It's as cute as other short tracks. And don't forget about bonus tracks. Procol Harum is the only band which bonus tracks you really should care for - without them many records loose a bit of charm.

PS. Just relistened 'Lime street blues' and thought that the way Gary sings is very close to Dylan's singing on 'It's alright, Ma'. Just a note - it would be really silly to accuse Brooker of ripping off someone else.

Ryan Maffei (29.03.2002)

I'll always admire Procol Harum for the scope of success their classical-rock hybrid always managed to achieve--hell, even their post era albums (Broken Barricades, Grand Hotel) succeed brilliantly. But despite its unthreatened position as my fave Harum record of all time (and how good the album sounds despite its being written and recorded in a week), A Whiter Shade of Pale has one unfortunate trait that bothers me: when the band is tackling classical ("She Wandered Through the Garden Fence", "A Whiter Shade of Pale", the thrillingly climactic "Repent Walpurgis"), they manage to be successful and original, but several of these tracks seem to owe an awful lot to...Dylan. Yeah, that's right--Keith Reid's lyrics house an obvious debt to the obvious, pioneering nonsense lyricist, and I can't fully respect "Mabel" (owes the concept to "Rainy Day Women") and "A Christmas Camel" (borrows the main riff and, pretty much, the whole tune from "Ballad of a Thin Man"). That said (and I wish I didn't have to say it), Whiter Shade is a classic in every other respect--even the derivative selections sound great and enjoyable, and this is a 1967 album not burdened by any inadequate songwriting or needless psychedelics. (Anthem of the Sun, anyone?). "Conquistador", "Salad Days", "Outside the Gates of Cerces", and the aforementioned "Repent Walpurgis" and the title track are remarkably good for a half-assed first time in the studio...good enough to earn this album a high 9. It's underrated, too...the All-Music Guide won't even give it a rating higher than (get this) N Sync's Celebrity, which beats Pale by a half-a-point. Jesus...


Ken <> (21.12.99)

The title of 'In Held 'Twas In I' is taken from the first words of each of its parts (In the darkness of the night... Held close by that which some despise... etc.)

<> (10.10.2000)

The "grotesque organ quote from some famous classical melody...( you)... just can't remember the name right now" at the end of "Skip Softly" is from your famous (Georgia-born Soviet-Russian) compatriot A´ram Khachatourian´s "Sabre Dance" from his ballet "Gayane", written in 1942.

Nick Einhorn <> (18.12.2000)

I might well be the only person who likes this more than AWSOP, but I don't really care. I think Shine On shows them refining their sound and being a lot more mature. The debut was kind of just a bunch of decent pop songs with only a couple of truly great tracks. Shine On, on the other hand, is much more consistent and cohesive. Fischer is a lot more prominent, which is a good thing, and Trower, despite his skill, never really fit with the sound of the band; him being toned down is a good thing, in my opinion. The only mishit here is "In Held 'Twas In I", and it's not all bad. The instrumental sections are good, and some of the softer sung sections are great. It should have been cut down to about half the length, but it's still worth hearing, as opposed to, say, "Mabel" or "Kaleidoscope". I'd say this record is the best Procol ever came out with, with AWSOP being second.

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

The first great procol album.Side 2 was brash at the time.I won't compare it to abbey road though.The atmospheres are too much different.Besides, Abbey road was the end for a group and shine on brightly almost the beginning for another one..I wonder whether the beanstalk thing is not a spoof on the beatles,beachboys et al guru craze.It's 1968,after all.

twas in I is a beautiful suite,a feat that PH will try to reiterate in 1977,with disastrous results.But here we have 5 various parts:the "eastern one" complete with tongue in chick philosophy,the baroque one which is IMHO the weakest,the fisherian one,with his gorgeous organ, the majestic one,with a good vocal by brooker and of course,the "pump and circumstance" one ,de rigueur on a PH album.

The other tracks are melodically lush too:Magdalene,the title track and rambling on.Wish me well provides the low point for me :it sounds like a first album outtake.But this album paved a reliable way to a salty dog,one of my all-time favorites.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (19.06.2001)

I was very disappointed when listened to the record for the first time. I knew that it would be worse than their debut but man, not that worse! The one bad thing that I noticed here was the fact that songs became longer (and sometimes MUCH longer). I know, it's art-rock, and if I don't understand it, then I'm an asshole, but, man, I always like when song is short and at the same time it holds your breath (in fact, almost half of songs on Procol Harum is of that kind). But the enlarging of tunes wasn't very nice idea for Procol. Oh, well, I don't say that first two tracks are bad - me just wanted to state that they are letdowns comparing to debut. And then after those two songs we face a 'horrid' one. You know, I guess that this tune was taken from a cartoon where ghosts were dancing around a small bear who was trying to make a scared face. Seriously now, can you be scared by 'Skip softly'? And Procol wants to scare you! That was their first unfortunate experiment.

'Wish me well' starts off nice but the coda ruins the song for me. 'Rambling on' starts off horribly (ahem, not horribly but in rather banal way - typical mediocre Procol's tune that one is) but the last part of it redeems the track. And Trower's guitar is awesome. I really hoped for good continuation but 'Magdalene' occurred to be a real headache in the ass. Oh, wait a minute, I think I was so harsh on that record (simply because I expected something like Procol Harum but a LITTLE bit worse) that forgot about one wonderful song. 'In held 'twas in I' could be at least three minutes shorter but the poetry is okay and changing tunes are cool, too. The best track here. Atmospheric, too. So it redeems the album and I'm ready to agree with your rating.

Ira <> (30.07.2003)

Wish ya well! Seen Procol since '68-opened for Moby Grape-& they are amazing! Just saw the 2003 LA show-rained too much, oh well! May be I'm "mad", but 'In Held Twas In I' is a work of pure sonic/musical/lyrical GENIUS, & with 'Whaling Stories' - ranks as their best work! People who find it boring or pretentious are not LISTENING! It still holds up as a masterpiece, & that is rare from LPs from 35 years ago! So...listen again-maybe you'll get it! If not...oh well!


Ryan Maffei (29.10.99)

Maybe so, but after I've gotten into it it still doesn't average that perfect ten I wanted. At the time it was the only Procol album available in the U.S. before the reissues came out, so I simply ordered it off of Perhaps A Whiter Shade of Pale would have been a better start, because after listening to the masterful A&M Greatest Hits collection, I found this album had too much "throwaway" material on it. The title track is an obvious classic, "Milk of Human Kindness" is quite fun and powerful, "So Much Between Us" is another great tune, and "The Devil Came From Kansas" is one of the best and silliest numbers on the whole thing.

Then the songs start to drift. "Boredom" may be a classic, but it don't mean a thing, which makes it less great. I'm not sure I like that "rich and fruity" side of Procol Harum. "Juicy John Pink" was an obvious outcast, but the sudden style change made me wake up from the "Boredom" trans. And of course, after that there are some songs I don't recall. Oh, yes, one was the undeniably glorious "Wreck of the Hesperus", and I can remember another great ballad, probably "All This and More", which was pretty great. But that "Boredom" thing still had a kind of strange effect on me, and now I can't remeber a word of "Crucifiction Lane". The final track, "Pilgrim's Progress", is good, but both it and "Boredom" sound like early Traffic without Brooker's powerful, deep voice.

So the album kinda gets lost in a bunch of weak songs, but all in all, it's all the same. It still averages a 9 for me, and the title track was the one song that got me interested in Procol Harum. Great, but was the share of disappointing songs present because of the beginning of a descent into their own boredom? Nah...listening to Broken Barricades shows that they still had some juice after this. Dig that Greatest Hits!

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

God only knows how much i love this album!Bar 'juicy john pink' everything on it is fine with me.After 1,000 playings,all this and maybe more ,i've never grown tired of the title track.This is a first-rate epic,the most beautiful song ever written about the sea.But there are other gems as everyone that will take a chance on PH will discover:'the devil came from Kansas' with its incredibly contagious chorus and the stereophonic effects of Trower's guitar.THe wagnerian 'wreck of the hesperus' complete with waves and storm sounds!giant!even the walkyrie was here!Trower playing the Christ on 'crucifixion lane' and the most amazing thing is that it follows the  concept too (check the lines:if the sea was not so salty ,i could sink instead of walk!)THe gorgeous 'pilgrims progress',Fisher walks out with the highest honors ;it was to remain his last word for PH.Hooray for procol!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (01.07.2001)

Is it a great album? Well, yes, if you ask me. But at the same time - no. I mean, well, if album is really great you should dig it from the first listen (or at least from the third). But I had a very big problem with Salty dog (especially with the title track - I really couldn't understand why that song got such a hip: it has no melody at all) - only on 5th or even 6yh listen I understood this one a bit. From the first listens I got a completely wrong opinion that album was full of boredom. I simply couldn't find any melodies in, say, 'Too much between us' and title track. Time passed and I think that I just got into Procol's sound more deeply than before. You know, it's very pleasant to find something new in music and that's why I was totally astonished after listening 'The wreck of Hesperus'. It consists of nothing but a wonderful harmony of two piano keys. And this gentle singing... I suppose this song proves that Fisher wasn't the last men in band. And, again, Keith Reid is having a good day here - nice, never annoying, and sometimes even charming ('Salty dog' and 'Wreck of the Hesperus'). In fact, the only two bad (rather mediocre) songs are captured on here - 'Too much between us' (I still believe there's no melody at all) and 'The devil came from Kansas'. I agree that 'Juicy John Pink' sounds a little bit off place but this one is typical blues. I mean, if I hear word 'blues', I immediately imagine a song like this. And it ain't bad by any means. 'Boredom' (which I thought would be a real bore) occurred to be a very cute folk tune. Nice that guys didn't forget the roots of blues, too.

And, yes, the other band's members do have great voices - 'Crucifiction Lane' is really dark and depressing. Even dangerous at some places. 'Pilgrim's progress' tries to steal something from 'Whiter shade of pale' and it actually works. Well, I have a little bit more interesting edition than you because a wonderful song 'Long gone geek' and many alternative takes are added. After hearing 'Geek' I suppose that noone will have any doubts that Procol Harum soon will become a hard rock band (for a while, though) - all these heavy riffs tell it all.


Kenneth Willis <> (17.02.2000)

You wrote: "Now that Matthew Fisher has left the band, this interplay was all but gone. His replacement, Chris Copping, isn't really much of a keyboard player - after all, how can one guy handle both bass and keyboards, even in the studio (not to mention live)?"

Despite what I wrote in an earlier e-mail (!), I'm not sure I agree here. I've always enjoyed the contrast between the piano and the organ on Home and it wasn't until recently that the penny finally dropped that it ISN'T Matthew Fisher on the organ. I had always assumed that he played on some of the tracks (this despite the fact that I take some pride in always reading the sleeve-notes!). Further, I disagree with your estimation of Mr Copping's keyboard skills. He, quite naturally, isn't Matthew Fisher but his work on Home (to name but one album) is so skillful and varied as to fool at least an old fool like me, and the overall effect is to create that typical Procol sound, which is far more important. Take another listen to "Dead Man's Dream". This, despite the fact that it is so morbid, is one of my favourite Procol tracks, as it gives me that same "tingle-factor" as "Repent Walpurgis" or "Whaling Stories", and the organ work is excellent: sometimes swooping chords, sometimes minimalist single notes, but always just right for the song. Incidentally, I loved your description of the melody as sounding like "a whining beaten dog". Good stuff!

Best wishes , with apologies for over-using the word "despite"!

<> (17.05.2000)

I'm frankly baffled by your comments about 'Whaling Stories'. The version on the Live at the BBC album, with its lovely organ intro, has confirmed in my mind that it is possibly the quintessential Procol track. The music and lyrics complement each other perfectly; when Gary sings the 'Six bells struck...' verse, it sounds full of portent and foreboding, but with 'Daybreak washed with sands of gladness' it just sounds like a new dawn, with tentative hope. And the last line, 'Those at peace...' well, it gets me every time. Perhaps it has been elevated to an object of reverence for Procol fans (even the fan club is named after it), but this is justified by the grandeur and lyricism of the track.

Didier Dumonteil <> (23.02.2001)

With the previous one,PH's best!Most all the songs deal with death so don't expect any comfort or solace here.My favorite has always been 'dead man's dream' but i must admit it's not for all tastes.THis story is probably the more gruesome i've ever heard (their eyes were alive with maggots scrawling)Such lines are enough to send S.King where he belongs,that is  kindergarten.One thinks of Baudelaire's la charogne-the carrion-.Nothing that i didn't know is more romantic gloom,à la E.A.Poe,but  depressing as well :death preys on a young woman here.'About to die' might be some kind of doomsday with "its candle burning bright enough to tear the city down"."piggy pig pig' has a final that shows the influence of Lennon's masterpiece "i'm the walrus".As for 'whaling stories' ,it's a tour de force musically with three or four melodies for the price of one!The lyrics are hard to decipher,i must say,particularly for someone whose first language isn't English.And can someone tell me who or what is shalimar?I see it as another apocalyptic vision the armagideon times.

As for Copping,he didn't try to ape the Fisher sound.Just hear the tension he built on dead man's dream,and be convinced!Probably PH 's more difficult album,and definitely not the one to start with,this is a must if you are like me a procol buff!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (19.06.2001)

Salty dog wasn't bad at all the formula 'more of same' was beginning to tie me down sometimes and I think I'm not alone here. So a departure from Whiter shade of pale was a very nice surprise that again dragged my attension to Procol. And this wonderful elecrtic guitar is really something! I suppose that if I find some nice Trower's albums, I'll buy them. Hey, who can resist that catchy riff in 'Whisky train'? Or resonance in 'Dead man's dream' (the song is a bit overorchestrated but it's only for good)? Or another catchy riff in 'Still there'll be more'? Not me, that's obvious. I like this record dearly and I like it's follower, too. After producing Home the next logical step was producing more hard rocking album. Home was great, but, fellows, we gotta break those barricades!


Ryan Maffei (07.11.99)

Why haven't you mentioned the excellent "Power Faliure"? It may have a horridly unneeded percussion solo in the middle, but it's still melodic and powerful. It is the best song on the record, not 'Simple Sister'.

Ken <> (21.12.99)

I always felt a tension between the Brooker/Reid and Trower/Reid compositions: one that was ultimately only resolved by Trower's departure. Whilst Trower's absence was definitely noted, the next collection (Grand Hotel) seemed much more consistent. A band in transition then, but some great songs. I think 'Luskus Delph' is a classic. Has it ever been available on CD? By the way, I seem to remember that Dark Side of the Moon was released the following year.

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

Procol jettisonned melodic strength for the most part of the album.(by the way is there a CD?)So this is a rather mediocre work compared to their standards.Simple sister is mesmerizing in spite of a rather tedious tune.Broken barricades is redeemed by BJ wilson's sensational drumming.lukus delph has got some nice lines.And that's all.BBdoesn't compare favorably to the four previous works and to the two following studio albums.A transitionary period.


Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

Edmonton is one of these albums you loved when they were released and which have lost since some of its charms.Why?

Because it's mainly a repetition.As the webmaster said,the studio version of a salty dog was close to perfection,so who could ask for more?For those who really want to hear a wonderful -sung now in English,now in Latin(!)-live version of this sea epic  ,please try to find the rare "within our house (1997) recorded in a tiny church in England.The grand finale is grandiose but the new guitarist can't match Trower.All this and more,(So sprach the webmaster) didn't do the job for a symphonic orchestra. Only conquistador and whaling stories gain something.With hindsight,it seems that BB's transitionary period had been somewhat overstretched.

James Hitt, Jr. <> (23.04.2002)

After reading this review and many other reviews and comments on Procol Harum's live album, I am thoroughly upset! (Well, I suppose that is a bit of an exaggeration...). I really enjoy this album a whole lot. On George's rating scale, I would give this album an 8 or 9 record rating, easy. But this may be due to nostalgia, for this was the first Procol Harum album that I bought (actually I got it from Napster, because it simply cannot be found in CD format anywhere that I've looked). I just love this album! Contrary to what George says, I think the song choice was quite good. "Conquistador" is an obvious gem. "Whaling Stories" is exponentially better than the studio version, and I think "A Salty Dog" was even better than the original. Sure, the studio version of "A Salty Dog" is good, but I much prefer the live, for the orchestration is just better. Instead of the bland staccato-playing in the original, the string parts in the live version seem to trickle in. The ominous intro, the breathtaking climax including the full orchestra, and the reverberating acoustics of the concert hall all add to the wonderful dynamics of the song. Also the lack of the drums is a big plus. In this version of the song, they would have just been a blaring distraction. I agree that the time taken up by "All This and More" would have been better used for "The Wreck of the Hesperus." And the final track, "In Held 'Twas in I," although it may not be the typical Procol Harum song, still sounds awesome on this album, infinitely better than the original because they pull off the atmosphere much more convincingly. And I seem to pick up from various reviews of this album that most people don't like Dave Ball's guitar work that much. I think his work on this album was quite good, if kinda thin. I daresay, he seemed to fit much better on this album than I think Robin Trower might have, but, who knows . . .

This is a truly great live album, in my opinion, and although George and other reviewers I've read havent bashed it, I guess I'm a little surprised that they didn't praise it as much as I do. Again, this may be due to the fact that this was the first Procol Harum album I listened to, and so, when I started getting their studio albums, I had to get used to those versions, rather than the live ones . . . Even if it IS just nostalgia, I'd still rank this album among their best!


Kenneth Willis <> (17.02.2000)

I bought this album shortly after Christmas (after all the millenium hype had died down, actually, but that's beside the point). I deliberately listened to it a few times first, before visiting this site and reading your comments, and my reactions, it turned out, were similar.

After the first hearing, I was disappointed to discover that I now owned something by Procol Harum which I didn't like at all and considered to be a waste of my hard-earned.

On the second listening, I felt the same, only more so. In particular, I did NOT like "TV Caesar". Up until now, Procol didn't have any bad tracks; only "good", "very good", or "not so good". However, I now had a PH track which I positively disliked: the words were silly, the chorus was worse and, worst of all, it was repeated ad nauseum.

After ignoring the album for a while, I played it once more, and now I wasn't so sure. "A Rum Tale" I already loved, having heard it previously on a compilation, but slowly the other tracks grew on me too. To cut a long story short, what I thought was a bad album, with Procol trying too hard and failing, ultimately became another favourite. Yes, "TV Caesar" can be accused of being dorky but, do you know what? If you ignore the lyrics (something one should never have to do with Keith Reid's work), the music is excellent. It's a really good tune when listened to in its own right.

I'm sorry you aren't quite able to appreciate the qualities of Gary Brooker's smoky voice but at least it hasn't stopped you enjoying Procol Harum. "Barocco-rock" is an excellent description: it about sums up all the reasons why I like Procol so much! Keep up the good work.

Ben Greenstein <> (02.06.2000)

I also have this band's "greatest hits," and to be honest, I'm kinda dissapointed with them. I really like the title track to this album, and the other songs are pleasant, but nothing that I should have spent ten bucks on. They do the "grand" thing pretty well (not as good as Queen), but they also seem to think that using the piano as the main instrument is enough to make the music "sophisticated." Too much of this stuff is repetetive and uncatchy. Like the title track and "Fires," though. A six.

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

C'est très à la mode to say that after Edmonton,it's downhill for PH.What a nonsense!Grand hotel is simply marvelous, a triumph and not the last hurrah,as exotic birds and fruit bears witness .

Grand hotel-the song- has got a slavonic feel  mixed with a FRench menu of girls,peach flambe ,oeufs Mornay and profiteroles..PH would soon cover blue danube on stage.

Toujours l'amour's got no string arrangement and you seem to hear one in it.A rum's tale features a nice duet piano/organ.TV ceasar is a bit turgid,but when they performed it live ,towards the end ,they went into "rule Britannia".

I agree with you fires is the best track!Christiane Legrand whose vocal is absolutely original in a pop context is none other than Michel Legrand's sister (the windmills of your mind,and the j.Demy soundtrack:the umbrellas of Cherbourg)

As for Robert's box it's an answer to a revolver track that everyone past infancy should know!

Grand hotel,grand procol!

Sergey Zhilkin <> (22.03.2001)

The title track is very pompous (and some more, too) and piano is present everywhere. However this didn't distract me from this album. In fact, it's really something new, new culture. Yes, I have to admit that art rock is something very special and Grand hotel shows it. And there's not a single bad song in a box!

Even 'TV Ceaser' is saved by its melody. 'Fires' is great and the chorus reminds me 'The swingle singers' band which I was forced to listen to back in early childhood. And doesn't 'Robert's box' have a connection with Beatles' 'Doctor Robert'? Keith Reid's lyrics display a black humor in the rocking 'Toujours L'Amour'. 'The song means long live love', confessed Reid. And it's an obvious quip about the song itself. The ballad 'A rum tale' shows Reid spoofing 'love gone wrong'. 'Souvenir of London' was banned by BBC because of its subject matter. 'Bringing home the bacon' is a better with classy guitars and organ work from Grabham and Copping and the whole track is punctuated by Wilson.'For Liquorice John', with its phased piano and chromatic sharp sound, is dedicated to a shcool friend of Brooker's who committed suicide, and the lyrics nod in the direction of Stevie Smith's poetic line 'Not waving, but drowning'. My favorite 'Fires' is a very European in flavor and could well have featured in a French movie.

As far as I know, Grand hotel reached number 21 in USA charts and earned Procol a UK Silver disc.

Pedro Andino <> (26.01.2004)

the cover does seem like lifestyles of the rich and famous! you can picture robin leach! but i hate 'tv ceaser'! gah!!!! trite words! the cover is like the great gatsby! it is not a bomb ! anyhow 'fires' is good ! 'bacon' is good! i loved this album and live at edmonton!


<> (01.04.2000)

Although Procol Harum have always been 'a cornerstone of my existence', I have to admit that many albums are very uneven, particularly Exotic Birds. The 'goofy rockers' are fairly pointless, I always used to skip 'Fresh Fruit', and 'Thin End of the Wedge' might possibly be the worst thing they committed to vinyl, at least, until 'the worm and the tree'. However, the standout tracks are truly outstanding, and 'Strong as Samson' is an absolute classic. I always liked the evocative and elegeaic closing track 'New Lamps for Old'.

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

This is one of the most mysterious procol albums.I've never understood what they wanted to say in "the thin end of the wedge" but i like the sound anyway.

The idol is vintage procol,it makes me think of Presley's end.As strong as Samson is gorgeous ,with Wilson's sans pareil (peerless) drumming.Butterfly boys takes a slap at Chrysalis records with  pretty murky lyrics.So are those of new lamps for old,procol's last hurrah ,that takes us back to Procol 's salad days (sic).And to top it all,the most wonderful artwork you could imagin  on the sleeve!The bonus track on the cd "drunk again " is a throwaway.But it doesn't deflate Procol's last great work.

Jan Burke (24.07.2004)

Hi there,

I'm very pleased to find this wonderful Procol Harum website. You know, whenever you meet a Procol Harum devotee - mostly in record stores - there's this tacit understanding: we know something the world doesn't, and there aren't many of us anymore.

At work we have a fortnightly staff magazine that puts a few questions to a colleague every issue, as a kind of personal portrait; and one of the questions is "If you got stuck in an elevator, what music would you want to listen to?" I've asked myself that question, and thought, my answer would probably depend on whether I'd die or live. But Procol Harum is the only band I know that I'd love to listen to in either situation. It's a joy to be alive - but being dead isn't so bad either...

Anyway, by brief comment: at the beginning of "Nothing but the Truth", Gary says what you say is "Is it on, Tommy?". I hear "Is he home, tell me?", which I think makes sense because before that, you hear a creaking door, and I think of it as a very quirky introduction to the door that opens then: the wonderful album with many songs that you take with you in your heart for the rest of your life, and that invariably well up when there are feelings involved. I wouldn't give other Procol Harum albums to people who are even remotely suicidal; but Exotic Birds and Fruit I'd recommend to anyone.

I also find it very interesting that Russia seems to be the only place left on Earth where music is appreciated with the fascination it deserves.


Kenneth Willis <> (22.02.2000)

There are only 2 reasons for making a cover of someone else's work (imo).

The first is that the new version is simply better than the original.

The second is that the new version is totally different from the original.

A cover version which is neither one nor the other (it can hardly be both, it seems to me) has no justification for its existence.

When you wrote "Dig that Eight Days A Week cover" I think you were being kind. I can't believe Procol did this, so I choose to believe it was the producers' idea to which they unwillingly submitted!

Your comparison with encountering an extract from a Beijing opera in the middle of Beethoven's Ninth symphony is very apt!

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

Things began to deteriorate from this album onwards.Exotic birds,although powerful featured some throwaways like fresh fruit.But on this collection,it's almost fifty/fifty! 50% of the material seems too hard,too heavy for the delicate balance of Procol magic:unquiet zone,taking the time. As for the other 50% ,final thrust is so repetitive it grates on one's nerves.

Pandora's box is commercial stuff,and i mean it pejoratively.The piper's tune, fool's gold and typewriter torments display appeal,but they are hollow echoes of a long gone past.covering a fab song is a good idea gone wrong.What a treat to hear procol sing one a beatles song! But... doing so in choosing a simple love song ,giving it a "dramatic" treatment that doesn't fit at all is no feat at all!Why didn't they select a track that would have fitted them like a glove ?eleanor rigby,she's leaving home,golden slumbers ,let it be or across the universe would have done the trick nicely.

THe dearth of good new material explained the blue danube treatments on stage that year of 1975.


Eamonn Monaghan <> (30.10.99)

One summer holiday, nearly twenty years ago, waiting to start my first term at London University, I bought this album. My one and only ever Procol Harum buy, excepting a 'Whiter Shade of Place/Homburg' oldie sing re - release. I bought Neil Young's Rust never Sleeps the same day. Why did I buy it? I just thought 'Hmmmm, Procol Harum, tuneful - yes I used to like them, nice cover art I wonder what it sounds like'.

......and my impression now? Actually, the songs on the first side I found quite entertaining and not a little spooky, perhaps not 24carat classics but very good nonetheless. An extra track on UK releases was 'Wizard' which was the only thumb twiddler - a filler if ever there was one, an r'n'b - ish pop rock tune to play in lifts and supermarkets.

As for 'The Worm and the Tree' - cringeworthy certainly - engaging and entertaining - actually yes it was! It always brought a smile to my face and a little belly laugh - it was quite a jolly ditty really and while Gary's gravelly voice was not best suited to narration, he is no Richard Burton (Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds - from the same year), the instrumentation is polished and very 'warm' sounding. In short, don't take this too seriously, listen to this as a piece of music, and a jolly pleasant little romp at that, and you will be entertained - I was.

And while the advent of the Sex Pistols may have blown the good ship 'Art Rock' out of the water why oh why was the aforementioned Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds , Andrew Lloyd Webber's truly awful Variations on a theme of Paganini and the Rice/Lloyd-Webber Evita cast recordings (all form the same year) left unscathed to scale the highest heights when they really were overblown and downright bluddy awful! (Still are)

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (23.09.2000)

As far as I know, the American version of Something Magic always contained "Wizard Man"; the vinyl copy I still have, bought only shortly after release, contains it. (I'd like to know why the U.S. version came out on Chrysalis/Warner Bros. instead of Chrysalis proper, and why Pete Solley joined for this one album and Alan Cartwright left, but those are questions for another time.) As for the song itself, I don't think it should be judged so harshly. It fits neatly into that category of "Songs Written Expertly for Radio Play by Bands That Hadn't Had an AM Hit in Awhile (or Ever)," ergo the Kinks' "Lola," the Who's "Squeeze Box," Tull's "Bungle in the Jungle," etc. And what's this broadside against art-rock, be it delivered then or now? I imagine you're not including brilliant albums like Tull's Minstrel in the Gallery or Songs from the Word or Heavy Horses (actually, combining the last two and dropping the weaker tracks would make a phenomenal album). But are you seriously saying that the work of people like Crimson, Gabriel, Henry Cow, Hatfield and the North, Peter Hamill, etc. were of no value in the late '70s? I should say not!

Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

As far as i can recall the story goes like that:the first copies -in the whole world- didn't include wizard man.BUt they deleted these copies BEFORE they were in the shops.When the final compilation arrived,wizard man was on a sticker,it wasn't printed on the sleeve.

Now for the music;THere are good news and bad news.

The good news : return to melodic vein,down with the blues-rock of the previous effort.Sometimes it works:the title track with its imagery of the darkness and "nighttime panics swept away.";some instrumentals part of the worm "suite". But the downfall of the record is the spoken lyrics of this very"suite":i remember the NME review in 1977,and they said exactly what I felt(and still feel).I'm quoting them"Brooker sounds like a teacher telling his pupils:pay attention,please,i'll ask you some questions afterwards"Actually this suite sounds like an Ennio Morricone's soundtrack-i like him,mind you-and it was high time for PH to call it a day.

Bert Visser <> (15.04.2003)

This is my most favorite Procol Harum -record. I really do like this record a lot. It always turns me into a very pleasant mood.


Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

it sounds like ersatz procol;no more Wilson,alas and without him...

decent tracks:the truth won't fade away,turn back the page,the king of hearts,learn to fly,the latter recalls la grandeur passée.

Word to the wise: deface this meaningless reunion and try to get the live-in-a-tiny-church within our house ;the title track is gloriously melodic.

<> (03.07.2004)

Prodigal album I thought was a welcome return for Procol, many of the previous albums lacked the clarity and range of this album. 'Truth wont fade away' I thought was excellent, the emotional songs 'In pursuit of happiness', 'Holding on', '(You can't) Turn the page' and 'Dream in every home' showed Brookers voice to be as good if not better than many of the classic Procol albums. The lack of BJ Wilson may have been evident but this was subdued by the extra effort elsewhere (as well as the drummer), remember BJ was a choice for Zeppelin which is an indication of his calibre, his skills and variation of drumming were better than he was ever given credit for. I struggled to find negative points on this one and remain baffled why it was not more succesful. This album also proved that they were still able to rock as well as the softer side. If Procol did another one like this I would be first in the the queue.


Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

It's what they call in cinematographic jargon: a remake.Some kind of Edmonton n°2.

It features real horrors: grand hotel sung by a tenor ,simple sister butchered by T.Jones,and nothing tracks:salty dog version  doesn't bring anything new to the warhorse,pandora's box was a weak track in the first place.

A whiter shade of pale,repent walpurgis and homburg are given pleasant arrangements.Strangers in space is better here,less ethereal (or more ,depending on whom you ask) than on the SM LP.

But ,needless to say,only for completists!  


<> (05.06.2003)

First of all I do have respect for your reviews, but as a total fan to this group since the 70s I am of the opinion that anything Procol is fantastic enough. I did have the opportunity to see this band for the first time in 2003 during The Well's On Fire tour in Alexandria, VA. And what came across to me is that this material was as fresh and relevant today as many of the past records were during their heyday. Also, the mixture of the older material and new record fit very well within the sets. I have given this record a hard listen and enjoy it as much as many in my Procol Harum collection. You may say that the group is being nostalgic, but who else can go on for as many years and deliver with the conviction that Procol Harum has for almost 40 years? Santana, Elton John? I don't think so. And plus there have always been band members in and out of the group since its inception. However, Brooker, Reid and Fisher and the new line up are as Procol as past line up's. Yes I said it! Everybody loves Trower and so do I, But Dave Ball and Mick Graham were meant for the albums they played on as well as Geoff Whitehorn who is most excellant I might ad, is meant for this record. Of course I will give you that no one can replace B. J. Wilson's drumming style but the band has a capable stylist in Brzezicki and bottom with Pegg holding down the bass. By the way, You didn't mention the song "Fellow Travellers" which is my favorite on this record. Who else can produce this type of song in days like these? Nostalgia? Maybe, but I don't think so. How about hard-core relevance?

Wayne <> (16.07.2003)

I'm not a Procol Harum junkie. Alas, I owned only Procol Harum and a Salty Dog years ago. They lost me when Matthew Fisher left the band. So my subsequesnt exhileration over their new CD is not the result of blind Deadhead like fanatiscim. I just think the songwriting is beyond almost anything I've listened to in years. It's all in your perspective, bro. If you think Springsteen whines, you're entitled to you're opinion but you're missing the whole gestalt if you will. Likewise, I loved the simplicity of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and thanked God they left the strings out.

what really moves me is the very thing you're critical of. The fact that they have the balls to write and sing about ideas that may appear to be anachronistic or tired to folks like yourself. Keith Reid at this late date is beyond pretention. Y'know, they probably said the same thing about Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger when writing about social issues. And the way Gary Brooker sings is poignant -- yes, exceedingly poignant. To me its all very, very good and well produced music.

Ken Willis <> (06.08.2003)

I was about to point out that the reason " there's so little guitar and the organ is so goddamn quiet " can be found in the words : "If you know how Procol Harum work their sound out ...", because, given your comments about "Good catchy songs with a well-developed keyboard sound", that is precisely what you've got. But, as you said, those were your thoughts before the angel sunk his teeth into you. And we should be grateful for the angelic intervention (even if it weren't no social call) because your subsequent comments are, it seems to me, quite fair and balanced. I'm not sure that we can - or Procol can - ever return to the days of the first four albums, but just the fact that they (Procol) are still around is, in itself, quite remarkable. I'm not at all sure that this is "Brooker, Fisher and Reid Remembering How Being In Procol Harum Used To Be Cool." I believe this is Procol Harum doing what they enjoy doing - making music - and for no other reason. They are certainly not making a major political statement; all they are doing is setting music to Keith Reid's words. As Gary Brooker said recently "Playing music is a job, not the waiting-room to a star-making factory" which is a clear pointer as to motivation. While I agree with you that this record is better than Prodigal Stranger, I can't go along with you about its not providing a single moment of true ecstasy. The first time I heard 'Weisselklenzenacht', it made my hair stand on end. So did the second time. And the third. Admittedly, all hairs (few that they be) are now horizontal again, but that's only because I've played the track countless times and become familiar with it. Yes, it is from the same bag as 'Repent Walpurgis', and yet it is totally different. Where 'Repent' was a passacaglia over a ground bass - in other words, it recycled the same four chords! - 'Weisselklenzenacht' is a skillfully-constructed tune with some exquisite harmonies and chord changes. Whether it is better or worse than 'Repent', I cannot say, but it certainly has as much angst! (In that respect, as well as in chords and harmonies, it is equally to be compared to 'The Dead Man's Dream' - a Brooker composition with no Fisher input.) For me, at least, it was worth buying the album for that one track alone. Call me Mr Optimistic, but I hope that still there'll be more.


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Didier Dumonteil <> (24.02.2001)

A poor man's procol.THe best track is "say it ain't so",by no means a brooker composition.Try to get the 2 other brooker solos instead:lead me to the water and echoes in the night.


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Didier Dumonteil <> (30.03.2002)

An experience! In a tiny church,Brooker gives a warm and enthralling delivery of some of his best songs.With a choir,like in the long goodbye but with much more finesse,GB sings the epic warhorse "a salty dog" now in English, now in latin,with stunning results."Holding on" and "nothing but the truth" are also part of a well-chosen menu.A lot of such traditionals as "Jesus on the main line" (Ry Cooder cut a version in the seventies on his paradise and lunch album) or "peace in the valley " add to the religious fervor of the atmosphere.But the most interesting song is the title track a Brooker/Reid original which could have been included in Grand Hotel or exotic birds and fruit, had the lyrics been more "secular".

The concert ends with the de rigueur "whiter shade of pale" of course.Hard to find,but definitely worthy if you're a PH fan.

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