Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Something Magic reviewed ... after PH split!

Ernie Canadeo in The Good Times, September 1977

The Good Times August 23 - September 5, 1977: Procol Harum, Something Magic

Procol Harum has almost become an enigma. There is simply no reason why this band, who were the first rock band to tour with an orchestra and who have released eleven mostly superb albums to date in almost as many years, have had to suffer the indignity of playing before near empty concert halls and of experiencing almost negligible record sales. I don't have the answers why, but I can testify that they are a fine live act, and as their latest album, Something Magic demonstrates, their records will remain testament to the "classy" side of rock and roll when the history books get: around to the task of defining this most diverse strain of music/culture.

The latest Procol album relies once again on Gary Brooker's distinctive, moody voice and the lavish production that is Procol's trademark - heavy organ, building crescendo's [sic], and amazing drumming by rock's best drummer, BJ. Wilson. Side one is comprised [sic] of five equally memorable numbers that stand up individually and work well together. to form one exquisite side of music. The title track opens the album, and it is typical Procol Harum : this is dream music; give it a chance and it absorbs you and carries you away, sort of a grandiose Pink Floyd. Keith Reid's lyrics (he has been the band's lyricist from the beginning) are unnerving, and add to the overall feeling of grandeur inherent in each piece.

Side two, however, is a parable entitled The Worm and The Tree and it is here that the lyrics (which are spoken) make this suite border on being insipid. The accompanying music is basically background music to the storyline and as a result sounds like a soundtrack to a fairytale. Where In Held 'Twas I from Shine On Brightly and later on the live album in collaboration with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, was powerful stuff, The Worm and The Tree is vapid.

Something Magic is not the best Procol Harum album to date, but it offers one side of music that is likely to remain on your turntable long after you've outgrown rock and roll ... if you haven't already.

(thanks, Unsteady Freddie)

Shortly after the above piece went online, BtP received this genial piece of feedback, reproduced here by permission

Hello Gentlemen,
Imagine my surprise (shock is more appropriate) while browsing your site as a long-time Procol fan, to find a review of Something Magic I had written in 1977 for Good Times magazine (complete with [
sic] typos!) prominently featured!

Someone has certainly done their homework. I have no idea how you found this piece, as even I had forgotten I had written it. By the way, as a bit of trivia, the editor of Good Times at that time was Kurt Loder, later and still of MTV News fame.

I was / am a collector and spent about ten years in the record business at RCA Records from the late 70s till mid 80s. I'll take a look and see if I have anything of note regarding PH. I did write a concert review of a Procol concert at Hofstra University around 1996 for my college newspaper ... I remember it because the Kinks (my favorite band) and Procol played back to back nights and I reviewed them both. I'll try to find the review.

Terrific job on the website.
All the best,
Ernie Canadeo
(still a fan and alive after all these years....)

More Procol History in print at BtP 




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