A real treat here for long-suffering Procol fans who've looked on helplessly as the band's catalogue floundered in mid-price, unremastered hell. A 30th anniversary treat, in fact, that augments those four Regal Zonophone albums with a third disc of A's and B's and out-takes, including – for the first time – a chance to hear A Whiter Shade of Pale in stereo. Alright, so the original four tracks were mixed down earlier this year, and much of the character has been lost on the way, but the opportunity to inspect the song's individual parts so closely is a treat nevertheless.
Those who claim that the success of Pale has overshadowed the band's other 45s, like Homburg and Conquistador (they have a point) will be doubly impressed by the other rarities this collection has unearthed. Stereo versions of both (mixed back in '67, authenticity seekers!) here, alongside two Shine On Brightly outtakes, Monsieur Armand and Seem To Have The Blues (Mostly All Time); an alternate version of She Wandered Through The Garden Fence, from the first album; the previously unissued Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) plus an instrumental A Whiter Shade Of Pale and an earlier take of Homburg.
Phew. The four albums are neatly split across the first two discs, while compiler Henry Scott-Irvine's notes are contained in a single booklet. The only drawback is that the outer box is a mite flimsy tends to undersell the package.
Those wishing only to skip into Procol's light fandango will find MCI's Halcyon Daze a splendidly-dressed, nicely-priced introduction. (MP)