Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Procol History

From the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll


Procol Harum's architectural designs were altogether more benign [than Pink Floyd's], inspired by cathedrals and classical music. A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967) set Keith Reid's mumbo-jumbo lyrics (a patchwork of evocative phrases and Dylanish nonsense) to an echo of Bach's Sleepers Awake and became an international hit that the group, actually formed only after its success, never equalled. The album that followed, Procol Harum, was stately, sombre and ominous, the confusion and despair of the words set in ironic contrast to the deliberate architecture of the music and the religiosity of Matthew Fisher's organ and Gary Brooker's gospel-tinged vocals and piano. Reid wrote of questers for revelation --conquistadors and later, salty dogs who came home empty-handed if at all, and the band's instrumental majesty made these failures still more pathetic. Very few groups (only The Band, which also exploited the piano-organ combination, comes to mind) have ever produced so fully realized a first album, and Procol Harum garbled Latin for 'far from these things' never quite duplicated it.

Kindly submitted by Dan Bernard


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