Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

The sixth reissue as won by Fred Schröter

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"Paul McCartney doubted if he was amazed. I do not because I am. I own one of the first pressings [of the Edmonton album] on Chrysalis and it sounded dull and uninspired. I had the idea that Procol in this new line-up was absolutely no match for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra nor for the Da Camera Singers. It was out of their league. I never liked this record and I always refer to it as "the silly album". I was of the opinion they made a huge mistake in releasing this live record.

Later I bought a German pressing after Polydor/Deutsche Grammophone acquired the rights to distribute Chrysalis in parts of Europe. It sounded a bit better. I also tried a copy of the MFSL edition of an A&M release. I came to the conclusion that it was a poorly recorded performance and a disappointing live performance of an up-to-then great band. 

How wrong I was. I was dumbstruck [on receiving the Salvo reissue as the prize in a BtP competition] and had to turn to my computer to express my thoughts and emotions.

First, I have to give a compliment to Chris Thomas, for it certainly is very well-recorded performance. I really had a sensation of sitting in a concert hall. Listen to the short violin solos in A Salty Dog. The vibrato in the violin, well I have never heard that before. And you can hear all the instruments and it does not sound like a muddle. It is all very clear and apart from Gary's voice sometimes lacking the power to be heard above the drums and bass – and now and again the orchestra, and he swallows some words to keep up with them – it is an amazing performance.

Listen to the organ played by Chris Copping, which sounds very very good, and I like the way he interprets some of the parts made famous by Matthew in In Held. Great job! And then Gary's piano, it was absolutely an instrument in its own right and not a sound between or amidst all the other sounds. And then an orchestra with all those individual instruments belonging together, if you understand what I mean.

It truly was an achievement in playing live with an orchestra and recording it for posterity. I even thought that A Salty Dog in this live performance is to be preferred to the original, but I guess I should not compare them, they are achievements in their own right. 

But then there is the point that the record company put out such a badly mastered vinyl edition of this performance and made such bad masters which were distributed with the different record companies that issued this record. That is another thing that amazes me.

Finally, Salvo with the cooperation of Strongman sets the record straight. (Pun intended)

The bonus tracks, Simple Sister and Shine on Brightly, on the other hand are a bit of a disappointment after the other live performances and Luskus Delph. I even dare to say that the short pieces of the mp3 conundrum sounded better, but that is perhaps because the dynamic range of these recordings fits more in with listening through an mp3 headphone.

 Great perfomance, great recording, I am still amazed and after 37 years I have to alter my opinion of this record. At my age, that is not quite that easy (anymore).

I am glad I won the record I always disliked so much."

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