Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Exotic Birds and Fruit

Contemporary album review


RG, in a great magazine called Music Scene, which lasted only from 1972 1974

Gary Brooker and Keith Reid together are really the Ken Russell of the pop world. Everything they do tends to be terribly dramatic, exaggerated, doom-laden and sometimes frivolous.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Just as The Music Lovers and The Devils were artistic and box-office successes, so is Exotic Birds and Fruits [sic] in the first category and surely will soon be in the second.

This is a typical Procol Harum album, but not typical in the sense of predictable. None of the songs are up to the Salty Dog, Homburg or Whaling Tales [sic] standard but plenty of lost causes and mental problems arise. There are moments of light relief, the accent on the heavy side nevertheless.

The combination of Brooker and Reid has proved eminently successful, the promise of Whiter Shade of Pale being fulfilled time and again over the years. Harum are far more popular in America than here, which is strange, and when I listen to Barrie Wilson's powerhouse drumming, Brooker's poignant vocals and the whole feeling of simpatico with which the group presents its music I wonder if the British are the nation of music-lovers they are made out to be.

Anyone who can fail to be moved by the final part of The Idol deserves pity, for it is a work of brilliance moving, charged with emotion, forceful and totally total. As side one is dramatic, things tend to get jollied along on the flip but just in case we forget for a moment who we're listening to, the final track, New Lamps For Old, reverts to the familiar ponderous style that has become Procol Harum's trademark.

Recommended movements include also the strident piano on Nothing But The Truth, the Rumanian gypsy feel of Beyond The Pale with its honky-tonk piano and short spell of guitar note bending by Mick Graham [sic] and the delightful all-stops-out rock and roll which is Monsieur R. Monde.


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