PROCOL HARUM – high quality without aids
In an era in pop music where group members get credits for synthesisers and tapes (eg Pink Floyd), both arguably 'non-musical instruments', Procol Harum continue to make high quality music without the artificial aid of electronics and tape machines to supplement their own playing.
They have always relied upon the true musical capabilities of the members of the band and they have gone through changes, with guitarist Mick Grabham and organist Chris Copping currently filling key roles, and songwriting of leader, pianist and singer, Gary Brooker, in partnership with non-playing member, Keith Reid.
Brooker, the driving force behind Procol Harum, and Reid combine to produce good, imaginative lyrics (Reid) and strong forceful melody lines (Brooker).
The songs often develop into epics and are evolved on a style too complex to be simply labelled 'rock', though this is not to say the band can't rock.
Monsieur R Monde and Butterfly Boys on their new album Exotic Birds and Fruit (Chrysalis CHR1058) are examples to prove this. As usual the album contains a lot of fine music, in a variety of moods.
Beyond the Pale has a Brecht and Weillish overtone in the treatment, while Thin End of the Wedge has a nightmarish quality; Fresh Fruit brings a light touch, while Nothing But the Truth rocks on stylishly.
This isn't a one-play album. The lyrics need a lot of listening to. You could call it 'thinking man's pop', or as a certain Irish newspaper likes to pompously term it, 'High Pop'.
Whatever you call it, it's the upper end of the creative scale and Procol Harum remains one of the most original, self-respecting recording groups.
(thanks, Jill, for typing)