Most music listeners equate Procol Harum with one song recorded at the height of the musical regeneration of the 60s. Whiter Shade of Pale has been covered by 260 artists to date, little wonder, as it lies at the pedestal of euphony and speaks to a culture and its beginnings.
Procol Harum belongs to the ages, as do Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, The Kinks, Free, Cream, Traffic and many other innovators of the genre. The difference is Procol Harum is still a living aeonian spirit whom roams the earth changing, reinventing the past to fit the present and plan the future.
For the average music fan, Procol's history begins and ends with Whiter Shade of Pale: a pity really, as this is a band who over the past 35-plus years of its unceasing quest for the holy grail of communication have managed to climb peaks few have reached.
From 1968's follow up Shine on Brightly containing the masterful 20-minute-plus one-sided vinyl take of In Held 'Twas In I through 2003's The Emperor’s New Clothes from their thirteenth studio offering, Procol Harum have repatriated time and time again those lost ideals that make music so eternally exhilarating.
The Procol followers are a devoted lot, keeping the spirit alive in whatever manner needed, fiercely devoted to spreading the word and anointing seekers with Procol mythology and ideology that solidifies their legend.
Procol Harum - Live at the Union Chapel is a rare opportunity to witness what the band does best on their home turf at the end of their recently released "The Well's on Fire" tour, a burning testimonial on the current state of affairs.
Replacing legendary drummer B J Wilson would be a monumental task, he who created those voluptuous drum fills throughout A Salty Dog, About to Die, Piggy Pig Pig, As Strong as Samson and many others during his ten-year tenure. Mark Brzezicki of Big Country notoriously and reverently fits inside the current configuration since joining in 1991 for The Prodigal Stranger.
Robin Trower, whom many consider rivaled Hendrix with his guitar pyrotechnics, contributing the meat on Whisky Train ( Home 1970), and coming into his own on 1971's Broken Barricades would put to task anyone whom stepped up to the challenge and I must say, Geoff Whitehorn has filled the bill with Tower's style and spirit while remaining his own unique talent.
Filmed at the Union Chapel, a wonderful and animated hall – described by Brooker as "almost performing inside some sort of kaleidoscope" – brings a very special vibe to the proceedings. Opening with a blindingly forceful version of Shine on Brightly the band move through the core movements of contemporary offerings from The Well's on Fire and throw in some brimmingly incandescent memories of times past.
Strong As Samson hold a special place in my fondness for Procol as it began on 1974's Exotic Birds and Fruit one of my favorite and most cherished Procol offerings and in their 2003 version burns bright touching the original and transcending any expectations.
For those folks who only remember Procol for Whiter Shade ... I implore you to take some time and traverse the spectrum of Procol's past recorded vignettes of glorification put to tape. For those of you who know what I'm talking about already have this in hand, and those who are just finding out, come and witness a band for all ages as Live at the Union Chapel testifies with an accurate eye.
This is a band who embraces the dignity of the creative artistic process while touching the heart and soul of what it truly means to be alive and well through 35 years of legendary showmanship and integrity.
(thanks, Mystic Debby)
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