Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum Live with the
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

Contemporary album review

Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Ed Kelleher in Hit Parader

Several of the more intrepid and / or foolhardy rock groups have attempted to fuse elements of pop and classical music; but few possessed the credentials and know-how of Procol Harum. Two years ago, Gary Brooker, when asked to name his most profound musical influences, replied the Germanic composers. But as long ago as their every first hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Brooker and his fellow madmen have been reworking the basic threads of the classics and coloring them with the variegated hues of Twentieth Century experience.

Ever since the fall of 1969 when Procol first worked with the orchestra at Stratford, Ontario, rumors of such a recording as this have been running around., Well, here it is, a few years late and not a moment too soon. The LP was recorded last November before an audience of 3,000 at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Alberta.

From the opening note it is apparent that Procol Harum, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the da Camera Singers are sincerely intentioned. What's more, Brooker as pianist and lead singer is not the slightest bit interested in the sort of masturbatory histrionics practised with regularity by Keith Emerson. The compositions of Brooker and Keith Reid demand more than mere attentiveness from all musicians concerned they demand a devotion.

The pieces are familiar Procol Harum fare most are from the first three albums but they are enhanced [sic] beyond even their original boundaries. A Salty Dog, the title cut of the band's third record, is a case in point. Always breathtaking to hear, it now emerges as an even deeper and more crashing tour de force. Ditto the complex in Held 'Twas in I, which is explored over the course of an entire side with results that are spectacular yet never lessen the total mystification of the oeuvre.

What it all really comes down to is that on November 18th of last year some sort of history was made, and this is the recorded transcript of that event. Whatever we were doing that cold evening couldn't possibly have been more important. Or, thanks to this album, more enduring.

Many more pages devoted to the Edmonton concert
More reviews of the Edmonton album
More reviews of other Procol Harum albums

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