When I got news that our friends at Eagle Rock Entertainment were releasing a DVD and CD by Procol Harum, I sort of stifled a brief laugh then went onto the next thing. The group, one of the most revered and beloved from the ancient '60s classic rock milieu was but a faint memory to me.
In fact, I could basically just barely recall their chestnut signature song A Whiter Shade of Pale. Yeah, they were a great band, but what had they done lately. Imagine my chagrin when I put on the CD and DVD and, basically havenít taken it off. My bad!
Led by the estimable Gary Brooker, who sounds like he hasnít aged a day, the bandís songs seem more focused than ever, and the fact that the band is augmented by The Danish National Concert Orchestra and Choir is a HUGE plus! My goodness, the extra added [sic] energy given these songs is nothing short of amazing.
Their songs, Into The Flood, Sister Sister [sic] and Conquistador are just downright stunning. The band has always been seen as one of the prime progenitors of what ultimately became Progressive Rock or Symphonic Rock. Its 1967 White [sic] Shade of Pale has been an FM radio staple for 42 years.
Combining sweeping orchestral flourishes with bluesy-minor-key melodic inventions, the bandís swagger was only exceeded by its towering musicianship. Brooker started the band in 1967 with non-musician Keith Reid, who like Bernie Taupin withElton John, plays no instrument nor sings, but has written or co-written every single record for the band.
The show, filmed in 2006, at an event on the grounds of Denmarkís Ledreborg Castle, is simply astonishing. The strings and extra voices give it an almost ethereal quality, and boy, those songs are exquisite gems Ė every one of them.
Special kudos must go to the concertmaster David Firman. Watch him conduct with a passion that is downright mesmerizing. Seeing him attempt to ramp up the orchestra is rather awesome.
He sings along, and with Harum perched in the background; it makes for a captivating sight. Contrary to what most people might think, conducting isnít easy. Watching this fellow is. For my money the best DVD of the year so far.
Other Procol Harum recordings | Procol Harum record reviews | This concert on audio CD | More of this concert on DVD | Order now from Amazon UK or from Amazon USA