Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Procol Harum All This and More ... 

Salvo Box Set reviewed by Gavin Martin in Classic Rock, November 2009

Order from The BtP Store where there are lots of other Procol goodies as well; or get it from Amazon (click here) and Amazon UK here

Procol Harum – a 4-disc compendium

Beautifully packaged four-disc career overview with live cuts, single B-sides and DVD footage

The rococo, Bach-influenced brilliance of the 1967 Procol benchmark hit A Whiter Shade of Pale – and the recent acrimonious court case with former member Matthew Fisher over its songwriting credit – should not be allowed to overshadow the magisterial nature of the work that followed. 

The aptly-titled All This and More …, featuring 68 of the group’s 110 original compositions, goes a long way to enshrining their position as one of the true treasures to emerge from the 60s.

The piano/organ combination so compellingly utilised on Whiter Shade… was probably the most progressive rock development of its era (see Dylan and The Band). Particularly over Procol’s first three albums, such innovation gave them a broad and lavish sonic template. The devastating blues-laced, compositionally dazzling guitar line of Robin Trower (Cerdes) added another compelling voice to their armoury.

Keith Reid’s lyrics – blending English nonsense tradition (the carnivalesque [sic] In Held 'Twas in I), classical references (the epic Blue Danube) and a love for Dylanesque allusion – would also prove to be a compelling element throughout the band’s lengthy career. Thus the sense of mystery inherent in Whiter Shade of Pale would remain a Procol Harum constant.

But far from obscurantism for its own sake, Fisher’s [sic] words elide masterfully with the full range of emotion and ambition in their  – particularly post-Trower – often symphonic sound. It’s small wonder The Who’s Tommy and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody can be traced to Procol’s influence.

The live cuts of the third audio CD and the package-completing DVD, featuring performances between 1974 and 2006, show how the unfailingly soulful Gary Brooker and the ever-changing Procol Harum line-up (19 [sic] musicians have so far passed through their ranks) were able to take his club jazz, R&B and gospel beginning in Southend bar band The Paramounts into uncharted territories.

With this bounty of riches, and a brand new album scheduled for next year, that enjoyable process continues.


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