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PROCOL HARUM

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Procol Harum picture
Procol Harum biography
Formed 1967 in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK - Disbanded in 1977 - Reformed in 1991 and still active as of 2017

PROCOL HARUM came out of the ashes from a band called the PARAMOUNTS that had its roots back in 59 (!!) and had split in early 66. Gary Brooker meet lyricist Keith Reid and began writing songs and by 1967, it became clear that they would need the help from their old colleagues from PARAMOUNTS days to form their new band to be called PROCOL HARUM. They developed a really new sound with two KB (piano for Brooker and Hammond organ for Fisher) and a guitarist extraordinaire called Robin Trower who was greatly influenced by JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE. They quickly became one of the precursor of progressive rock (along the MOODY BLUES and The NICE) and mixed in some classical influences (BACH in "Whiter Shade of Pale") and sold millions of singles but also albums.

They became the first band to build a multi-movement suite that lasted a whole side and this was in early 68 in their second album called "Shine on Brightly" and became a real influence for all progressive groups to come. By their fourth album "Home", the sound had evolved to an almost hard-rock but by the following one, the guitarist Robin Trower left for a long and successful solo career, leaving Brooker alone at the driving wheel. From their "Grand Hotel" album, the sound will be tamer but still explosive but all of the succeeding album would follow suit, the band still enjoyed many hit singles. Until they folded in 77, victim of the punk wave. They sporadically reform around the Brooker-Reid duo and Fisher to record a new album and small tour, the most recent being in 2003.

PROCOL HARUM is highly recommended for all the progheads who are interested in the birth of prog and its roots as well as its inventive use of an symphonic orchestra often used a real instrument in their music.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Buy PROCOL HARUM Music


Procol Harum - Greatest HitsProcol Harum - Greatest Hits
Remastered
A&M 1996
$9.47
$2.75 (used)
Grand HotelGrand Hotel
Extra tracks
Esoteric 2018
$16.57
$20.86 (used)
Exotic Birds & FruitExotic Birds & Fruit
Esoteric 2018
$23.79
$23.05 (used)
Prodigal StrangerProdigal Stranger
Esoteric 2018
$9.77
$10.29 (used)
Procol HarumProcol Harum
Esoteric Antenna 2015
$14.71
$16.02 (used)
A Salty DogA Salty Dog
EP · Extra tracks · Remastered
Esoteric Antenna 2015
$12.34
$14.65 (used)
Still There'll Be More: An Anthology 1967-2017Still There'll Be More: An Anthology 1967-2017
Box set
Cherry Red 2018
$72.64
$86.55 (used)
Still There'll Be More: An Anthology 1967-2017Still There'll Be More: An Anthology 1967-2017
Remastered
Cherry Red 2018
$13.93
$18.59 (used)
NovumNovum
Eagle Rock Entertainment 2017
$8.48
$8.47 (used)
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PROCOL HARUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PROCOL HARUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 303 ratings
Procol Harum [Aka: A Whiter Shade Of Pale]
1967
4.06 | 301 ratings
Shine On Brightly
1968
3.58 | 234 ratings
A Salty Dog
1969
3.54 | 158 ratings
Home
1970
3.30 | 138 ratings
Broken Barricades
1971
3.88 | 217 ratings
Grand Hotel
1973
3.39 | 126 ratings
Exotic Birds And Fruit
1974
2.80 | 99 ratings
Procol's Ninth
1975
2.99 | 111 ratings
Something Magic
1977
2.42 | 73 ratings
Prodigal Stranger
1991
3.03 | 82 ratings
The Well's On Fire
2003
3.26 | 43 ratings
Novum
2017

PROCOL HARUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 119 ratings
Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
1972
4.04 | 18 ratings
BBC Live in Concert
2000
3.89 | 9 ratings
One More Time
2003
4.03 | 26 ratings
In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra And Choir
2009

PROCOL HARUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.17 | 16 ratings
Live (DVD)
2002
4.13 | 19 ratings
Live at The Union Chapel
2004
4.76 | 21 ratings
In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra And Choir
2009

PROCOL HARUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of Procol Harum [Fly]
1971
3.03 | 10 ratings
The Best of Procol Harum [A&M]
1972
4.29 | 7 ratings
Rock Roots
1976
4.77 | 4 ratings
Procol Harum's greatest Hits Vol.1 (Pickwick)
1982
2.67 | 3 ratings
Portfolio
1988
3.02 | 9 ratings
Chrysalis Years 1973-1977
1989
3.07 | 5 ratings
The Definitive Collection
1992
3.44 | 6 ratings
Homburg & Other Hats: Procol Harum's Best
1995
4.08 | 47 ratings
Various Artists: The Long Goodbye
1995
3.09 | 4 ratings
Greatest Hits
1996
4.18 | 9 ratings
30th Anniversary Anthology
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Halcyon Daze: The Best of Procol Harum
1997
3.05 | 2 ratings
Three Classic Albums
1998
4.67 | 6 ratings
Pandora's Box
1999
3.50 | 2 ratings
Procol Harum, The Best Of (Golden Times)
2001
4.00 | 4 ratings
Whiter Shade Of Pale
2001
3.75 | 4 ratings
Singles, A's and B's
2002
4.17 | 9 ratings
Classic Tracks and Rarities: An Anthology
2002
4.67 | 3 ratings
Procol Harum/Shine On Brightly
2002
4.08 | 6 ratings
First Four
2003
3.75 | 4 ratings
A Salty Dog / Home
2003
4.04 | 6 ratings
Secrets Of The Hive - The Best Of Procul Harum
2007
3.41 | 8 ratings
All This And More... - A 4-Disc Compendium
2009

PROCOL HARUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.73 | 14 ratings
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
1967
3.67 | 3 ratings
Quite Rightly So
1968
4.00 | 4 ratings
Homburg
1968
4.04 | 7 ratings
A Salty Dog
1969
4.00 | 7 ratings
Conquistador (live)
1972
3.00 | 2 ratings
Robert's Box
1973
3.50 | 2 ratings
Souvenir Of London
1973
3.67 | 3 ratings
Nothing But The Truth
1974
3.80 | 5 ratings
Pandora's Box
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Something Magic
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Truth Won't Fade Away
1991
3.00 | 1 ratings
(You Can't) Turn Back the Page
1991
2.00 | 1 ratings
A Whiter Shade Of Pale - 40th Anniversary Edition
2007

PROCOL HARUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 (You Can't) Turn Back the Page by PROCOL HARUM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
3.00 | 1 ratings

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(You Can't) Turn Back the Page
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars It was 14 years since their [in my opinion rather weak] 1977 farewell album Something Magic, when Procol Harum made a return to the music business. And it wasn't one of those comebacks in which the band's lead figure - in this case, vocalist-pianist- composer Gary Brooker - recruits a bunch of musicians who have hardly ever been involved with the band's past, no, this was a "real" comeback as a band. Lyricist Keith Reid was in, and so were organist Matthew Fisher and guitarist Robin Trower, both key figures in the Procol saga. Drummer B. J. Wilson died before the realization of this comeback. Expectations were probably high among the old fans. Sadly the comeback album The Prodigal Stranger is generally regarded as a disappointment: professionally done, but without particularily strong song material, not to speak of once-so-fascinating lyrics from Reid, now playing with worn-out clichés even on the titles such as 'One More Time' and 'You Can't Turn Back the Page'. But let's have a closer look at this CD single's three songs.

'(You Can't) Turn Back the Page' has a big production typical for the era, or rather the late 80's. The drums are loud and clinical- sounding, and there's a choir reminiscent of the one in the Foreigner hit 'I Want to Know What Love Is'. As a whole the arrangement is dynamic, ie. at the beginning and on other quieter moments Brooker's digital piano is on the front and Fisher's organ makes nice appearances too. The song itself is quite good AOR with emotion and good melodies, but a bit over-produced, after all.

'One More Time' is pure Foreigner-type AOR with a rockier approach compared to the single's title song. Those choirs are present again... :( The sound features the Procol trademark of piano & organ combination but the big, commercial production is all around. The electric guitar solo is OK. 'Perpetual Motion', together with the slow-tempo song 'The Pursuit of Happiness', was my favourite song on The Prodigal Stranger. Its powerful chorus is among the finest in the whole Procol catalogue, and the more delicate parts leave room for the beautifully soft organ sound. The lyrics have a reference to the song 'Grand Hotel', which 1973 album actually is a good comparison to 'Perpetual Motion'. Unlike the two other songs here, it's not over-produced in my opinion. Needless to say this single won't score high from the prog's point of view, but it's not bad at all as a pop product of its time.

 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.26 | 43 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Ok, not all the over 70 vocalists have the same extension they had when they were young. Brooker is not an exception, his voice is still recognisable and fits perfectly but nobody can expect high notes like on A Salty Dog to say one title.

Also, the songs are quite dated. It's like a fantastic album has been recorded and put into a time machine just to appear 50 years later then its time.

You know what? I LIKE IT!

It's an excellent album. The sound quality is at today's level and doesn't sound too "vintage". Of course the songwriting is not evolved, but whoever likes the classic Procol Harum will not be disappointed by this "Novum" album. There's plenty of melodies, very British I'd say, with songs like "Can't Say That" which seems to come from the Blues revival years.

In the end it's like it was a lost album and I think that Procol Harum have done the best possible thing: instead of trying to be "actual" and renewing their songwriting they have done exactly what a fan wants: be themselves, even if it's everything but a reunion of the original members. Only Brooker is survived from the first album's lineup 51 years ago.

But this is a proper Procol Harum album. Fit for purpose. You won't find a new Whiter Shade Of Pale inside, but the whole album is very consistent. Not many peaks but absoutely no lowlights. In my opinion it deserves not less than 4 PA stars.

 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.26 | 43 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by FunkyM

3 stars I saw Procol Harum play live two years ago, but it was a set of older material, so I had no idea what to expect out of their first album of new material in 14 years.

Gary Brooker is back, of course. Brooker has been the singer, pianist, and main songwriter for the group over the course its 50 year history. There has been some discussion in reviews online that Brooker's voice is not what it used to be and that may be true; the man is 72 years old, after all ? but it must be said that for a 72 year old man, his voice sounds pretty good.

For those expecting a glorious orgy of organ music, you will be disappointed. Novum has a more modern sheen to it. The style of music here is, for the most part, pretty straight forward rock 'n roll with Brooker's piano at the forefront.

I did find a few tracks in the early half of the album, such as "Last Chance Motel" and "Don't Get Caught" to be a bit pedestrian, but the song writing is solid enough throughout the album to keep things from getting too dull. A couple of tracks do try a more ballady style with Brooker crooning at his piano. Of these, "The Only One" stands out. "Sunday Morning" is also pretty strong, occasionally echoing old school Harum.

Overall, Novum delivers a solid set. The album is not one that I see myself revisiting often, but I would not classify it as a disappointment per se.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the beautiful cover art, credited to Julia Brown Illustration. One of the finest album covers I've seen this year.

Highlights: "Image of the Beast", "Neighbour", "Sunday Morning", "Businessman", "Can't Say That", "The Only One"

 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.26 | 43 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

3 stars Is there anyone who was expecting Procol Harum to release their 17th studio album, after a long 50-year-old career, to form an opinion? I hope not! I must admit that this new release caught me by surprise, as I wasn't expecting anything like that. I know that the band is active, performing a few live gigs every year, but that was all. So, I was really happy and excited when I learned about this album of theirs. Before anything else, I should mention that I consider myself as a "fan" of Procol Harum. I grew up with their music, I have all their albums in my collection and never got bored of them. They had many ups and downs of course, like any other band, but Gary Brooker's warm and unique voice was always there to befriend me in my melancholic and dark times. Let's take a look at Novum now: The production of the album is excellent (as expected), the musicians that are participating are very experienced, and the overall outcome is satisfying to my ears. (But as I wrote above, I'm not the average listener of PH). So, further than Gary Brooker, here we have some very good musicians, such as: Matt Pegg (Jethro Tull / Fairport Convention) on bass, Geoff Dunn (Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Van Morrison, Jimmy Page) on drums, Geoff Whitehorn ( Kevin Ayers, Bad Company, Roger Waters, Paul Rodgers, Roger Daltrey and others) on guitar and Joss Phillips (The Who, Diamond Head, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend and others) on keyboards. Procol Harum's "trade marks" always have been Gary Brooker's warm and unique voice, the extended use of organ, and the influences from the great classical composers, such as Bach and Handel for example. Unfortunately the organ and the classical influences have been reduced a lot, having the piano as the leading and dominant instrument, accompanied by some really good guitar passages and riffs. As for Gary Brooker's voice, it is definitely not what it used to be, but it is not bad at all, considering that he is almost 72 years old. The album includes 11 tracks, and has a total running time of almost 55 minutes. There are some songs in a more "Rock" style, such as I told on you, the album's opening song, or Image of the Beast for example. But there are some others, where you can hear something from the magic of the good old Procol Harum, such as Sunday morning or The only one. In my opinion, you should listen to the album a few times before you form up an opinion. Let yourself "sunk" in the melancholy and the beauty of some of its songs, and then decide. Concluding this, I want to say that Novum in not a bad album, but not a masterpiece as well. It is a well structured album, including some fine and nostalgic moments. Definitely recommended for the fans of Procol Harum, but not only them. Every fan of Rock or Progressive Rock music will find some songs that he/she will like. I will try to be objective here, and give 3.5 stars
 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.26 | 43 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars I had some reservations about listening to this new Procol Harum album as I had heard that Gary Brooker's voice was deteriorating over the last few years. At 72 year's old, it has. And that creates a dilemma as Brooker's voice was also Procol's sixth instrument which he used, generally, while singing with a lack of diction along with a pitch shifting change from one of the lyric's syllables to the next.

To compensate, this latest incarnation of Procol Harum have ramped up their playing as they were always a bit measured and reserved in the past. Guitarist Geoff Whitehorn really shines as he is able to jump from Richie Blackmore like riffing to Eddie Van Halen like flourish's. New organist/synth player Josh Phillips stays away from the old Procol sound of Bach or Handel flourishes and is more in a supporting role. Bassist Matt Pegg and new drummer Geoff Dunn really click and set off some driving rhythms in the harder rocking songs like "I Told On You", "Business Man" and especially on "You Can't Say That". Great songs, by the way.

However, Brooker struggles with the ballads on the album, as his voice can just barely cover the range of this material and generally sounds scratchy. The exception being the stellar "I Am The Only One", one of those magically emotive Procol songs that would even sound good if it was sung by Tom Waits.

Long time lyricist Keith Reid is oddly missing on this outing, but former Cream lyricist Pete Brown has stepped in and, naturally, fits right in with Procol's music. The production on this album is top notch and sounds quite warm, almost analog, and dynamic. The key to Novum is if one can accept Brooker's aging vocals and enjoy the music for what it is, or dismiss the album out of hand. I'm on the fence at the moment, but I suspect I'll fall off after a few more listens. I feel that 3 stars is suitable for the band's effort to deliver something of value fifty yeas after recording their first album. They have really played to their strengths this time around and that in itself is refreshing, even if Brooker's voice is not.

 Procol Harum [Aka: A Whiter Shade Of Pale] by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.91 | 303 ratings

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Procol Harum [Aka: A Whiter Shade Of Pale]
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

5 stars Where history and music collide, you will often find sparks. And the explosion that is Procol Harum's eponymous debut album is as brilliant as sunlight.

But let's start at the beginning. This review is of the 2 CD Esoteric 2015 Special Edition which features 24 bit digital mastering, the entire UK mono debut album and, of course, the bonus smash single release of A Whiter Shade Of Pale and follow up hit Hamburg, along with various album track stereo mixes, alternate takes and bonus B sides. A Whiter Shade Of Pale is recorded in much the same vein as is the follow up album. The bass being muddier and less defined than the album tracks, with Hamburg sounding more detailed than both, but not showing them up to any degree. Which works well for continuity and long, long listening.

What's sets AWSoP apart from the album, aside from it's being involved in one of the costliest legal battles over the music authorship (with organist Mathew Fisher awarded a 40% songwriting credit for his musical contribution in the 2005 (!) court case against cowriter pianist Gary Brooker) is the fact that the song was recorded with session drummer and Georgie Fame band member Bill Eyden, who also sued Procol for a sales royalty percentage in 1868!

But Eyden's contribution to prog is more than monetary. His metronomic percussion work would become the standard barer for prog drumming styles in a few short years. Full time drummer BJ Wison, who was recorded on the entire eponymous debut album and replaced the drum parts on the hit Hamburg, would go on to forge his own idiosyncratic style which was both precise and flamboyant. The result? A melding of both styles would become a prog style in itself. Now that's a lot to say about just one song on this double CD, but it is one of the greatest selling hit records of all time and remains a standard after many others have fallen out of consciousness.

AWSoP can be said to be the blueprint for the album proper with it's Bach inspired polyphony, descending bass line and surrealistic lyrics. Lyrics from a person who only wrote lyrics for a rock band. A first at the time. And, despite it's timeframe, these lyrics do not drip of lysergic excess, like the meanderings of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus. Keith Reid's lyrics were Salvador Dali-like expressions in words mixed with the stark introspection of Bob Dylan, and are quite beyond their time. Throw in a stellar blues guitarist like Robin Trower, and a solid as a rock bassist like David Knights, and you've got quite a potent proto prog stew bubbling up with all kinds of wonderful flavors.

The album's leadoff track Conquistador, a reworked hit with orchestra accompaniment in 1972, is notable for it's absence of the familiar orchestral backing, but the original version is given a healthy boast with a memorable organ solo from Fisher. Gary Brooker's vocals are not quite as strongly developed at this stage, but his emotional delivery is paramount to the success of every song that warrants it, and he delivers admirably.

She Wondered Trough The Garden Fence is still as joyous and ridiculous as ever, with the band quickly getting into a groove that would wind it's way though the entire album. Something Following Me is Reid's first lyrical ponderings on the eventuality of death and is in stark contrast to the mostly upbeat, albeit regal, musings of the rest of the album's songs. Especially when contrasted against the two silly music hall throwaways Mabel and Good Captain Clack. But the Bach inspired frenzy continues with the songs Cedes (Outside The Gates Of), Kaleidoscope, the only song have dated lyrics, Salad Days (Are Here Again), and the album's magnificent instrumental closer Repent Walpurgis. Repent Walpurgis is a Mathew Fisher penned tour de force that features the angry lead guitar of Robin Trower trying to claw it's way out of a cage of swirling organ and piano runs and never quite succeeds. But it's the spirit of that fight which sends the song over the edge and into it's grand crescendo, and finally a release from the intense musical drama.

The Esoteric Special Edition also features an earlier extended run through of A Whiter Shade Of Pale, with a drummer that is probably the quickly departed Bobby Harrison, as he lacks the precision and drama of both Eyden and Wilson, along with the previously mentioned alternate and stereo mixes. An early instrumental version of the 1975 UK hit Pandora'a Box is also featured and works well on it's own terms, as it's an eerie gothic piece that is pure ear candy.

So there you have it. One of the cornerstones of prog rock that, despite it's modest recording techniques and mono sound, remains remarkably undated when compared to other proto prog albums of it's era. And did I mention that it's a damn good listen? 5 stars. Absolutely essential.

 A Salty Dog by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.58 | 234 ratings

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A Salty Dog
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by komorebi

4 stars I know the album is not the best progressive one. But it is so meaningful to me. A Salty Dog is the first progressive album I've really tried to listen to and I had to play song by song without stopping since hearing the first song A Salty Dog. I've loved progressive music since then.

The story of the first song is quite sad, I'd vaguely imagined the isolated beach with some scattered birds in the blue sky, it really obsessed me. But after that, there are some songs which are softer like The Milk of Human Kindness, or Too Much Between Us.

I think the album will be likely to satisfy any progressive music newbies who want to enjoy that peculiar genre of music but are lack of patience to start with more complex songs.

 Shine On Brightly by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.06 | 301 ratings

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Shine On Brightly
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars It amazes me how such an influential album can be so overlooked in the prog world, but there are many valid reasons. The foremost that Procol Harum would be forever seen as a top ten hit song band instead of the musical trendsetters that they actually were. At least with their second album from 1968 titled Shine On Brightly. This is still the same lineup that recorded their eponymous first album, with organist Mathew Fisher oozing wonderful musical notes and cues that surround almost every song on this album without smothering any of them. His calliope like swirls engulf the album's brilliant title track as guitarist Robin Trower seems to send out siren like notes on his guitar by Morse code. My Moonbeams is magnificent prototypical heavy prog with Wish Me Well reflecting the ever present British Blues scene a well as referencing, musically, the late Jimi Hendrix. Naturally, Trower is superb with this material.

Incidentally, Jimi would be lyrically name checked in and the album's most celebrated track, which is the side 2 song suite In Held T'was In I, with it's magnificent lyrics from pen of Keith Reid and the powerfully commanding, questioning, searching and almost finding vocals from pianist Gary Brooker. Broken down into sections of philosophically questioning spoken word from both Brooker and Reid that are soon supplanted by the majestic music and powerful c=vocals of both Brooker an, surprisingly organist Fisher, Indeed, the section subtitled In The Autumn Of My Madness is Fisher's high point in both playing, composing and singing for the Harum. The song's instrumental coda, also written by Fisher and subtitled The Grand Finale, is Fisher and Trower at their absolute best. What makes the song so successful is that Reid's lyrics, as pompous as they may sound initially, as Reid, unlike many odf his contemporeries, does not claim to the path to Nirvana, either spiritual or physical. How merely ponders what life's all about.

If anyone likes Tommy by The Who, or the Beatles' Abby Road side 2 song suite, you can thank Porcol Harum for showing them the way. Procol's magnum opus may not hold up as well, but it's had to hold up far longer. Uber drummer BJ Wilson and bassist David Knights round out this album's classic lineup of the Harum. 4 proto prog stars.

 Prodigal Stranger by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.42 | 73 ratings

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Prodigal Stranger
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars Sailing through rough waters with the old salty dogs.

This 1991 reunion album of original Procol members Gary Brooker, Mathew Fisher, Robin Tower along with lyricist Keith Reid is quite baffling to me. The bulk of songs are written by Brooker, Fisher and Reid with Trower joining in just prior to this album's recording. There's nothing like A Whiter Shade Of Pale on this album, but I seriously never expected one at the time this album was first released.

Brooker, Fisher and Reid stick almost entirely to anthemic and nostalgic AOR type material that's really quite good on it's own terms. Reid has only grown as a lyricist since abandoning his early oblique avant-garde lyrical style that went out of fashion with the nineteen sixties psychedelic era. Album opener The Truth Won't Fade Away is as good as any Procol Harum opening track, save the magnificent title track from 1971's classic A Salty Dog. and melodically, almost every track is a hook filled wonder.

What sinks this mighty ship is one of the loudest faux "electric" drum mixes that I've ever heard on any record, and I'm a rock music recording engineer with over 40 years of experience. If that doesn't say something, nothing will. In fact, all of the instruments and vocals, while clearly recorded, are just mixed too damn loudly on the Prodigal Stranger. I'm aware that organist Mathew Fisher got the songwriting bug after playing around with drum machines and sequencers, which were in vogue in the eighties, and the band wanted, I assume, to sound contemporary with bands like Ultravox. However, this is taking eighties electronics, gated reverb, and production techniques to an extreme that would have even bewildered electronic pop bands like Erasure.

Now, I wouldn't find this so strange if Brooker, Fisher and Reid were not listed as co-producers and the album's mixing supervisors. Did they all go deaf? Perhaps they did after the first loud mixing session. A real pity because Procol Harum we're never going to return to their early glory with the Prodigal Stranger, but at least they could have walked away with their reputations intact if this album was not so recklessly over produced.

 The Well's On Fire by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.03 | 82 ratings

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The Well's On Fire
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars Burn baby burn.

This studio album from 2003 will probably be Procol Harum's last and it's fine way to say goodbye. The over production of Procol's last studio incarnation from 1991 titled the Prodigal Stranger is thankfully absent. Gary Brooker is still in fine voice and his latter day song collaborations with lyricist Keith Reid trod some old and new themes.

As with almost all Procol albums, the opening track is great and the music starts to go down hill after that, but this album is full of well rounded songs, but still starts off great with the vocally hook leaden An Old English Dream. Prior to Procol Harum disbanding in the late seventies, Brooker and Reid's compositions became more topical and literal as with songs such as Strong As Sampson from Exotic Birds and Fruit. Brooker and Reid almost outdo themselves with the emotional ballad This World Is Rich (For Stephen Moboe) , written for the South African activist and sung, remarkably, by Booker from Moboe's point of view of his "poor countrymen starving." Brooker is just as emotionally convincing as he was singing A Salty Dog some thirty plus years earlier. This has always been Brooker's real strength as a singer, aside from his great sounding voice.

Shadow Boxed is a fun straight up rocker with very cheeky and cleaver lyrical rhyming by Reid, while The VIP Room hearkens back to Procol's rich Grand Hotel alter ego living the high life, especially in his time of dying! Another great rocker.

Robe Of Silk and Fellow Travelers show off from fellow original remaining member, the great Mathew Fisher on his superb Hammond organ, as he's never lost his touch. In fact, Fisher does another fantastic instrumental closer tilted Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature) which almost rivals Repent Walpurgis form Procol's incredible debut album from 1968. New guitarist Geoff Whitehorn smokes his guitar into a frenzy at the songs conclusion. The result? Classic Procol Harum.

Ex Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki returns with a more Procol like sound and percussion accents then was exhibited on the Prodigal Stranger, while sometime Tull bassist Matt Pegg (Dave's son) makes for a potent rhythm section.

As with all sixties groups, Procol felt that they had to literally fill up the running time of the modern CD, so a few duff songs are on offer, namely the throwaways titled Far Behind and Every Dog Will Have It's Day. But aside from those two songs, this album will be a treat for long time Procol Harum fans. Simply put, The Well's On Fire has everything a fan would want to savor in a later day Procol album.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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