Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Prodigal Stranger

Contemporary, informal review

Joan May drew our attention to this Gibraltar Digest review by John McIntyre, dated Tuesday 20 Aug 1991, stockpiled here:

After one listening to the new Procol Harum CD The Prodigal Stranger, my impressions are: (Warning! First impressions are subject to change. On first listening I thought Sisters of Mercy Vision Thing was an inadequate follow-up to Floodland)

Despite the fact that the big four (Gary Brooker piano, lead vocals, and most of the music writing, Keith Reid lyrics, lighting, and general pretentiousness, Matthew Fisher organ, Robin Trower guitar) (BJ Wilson, the original drummer, is dead so he is not on the album, but just wait for MIDI 2.3 8-)) have been rounded up, the album sounds like a Gary Brooker solo album rather than a real group effort.

The dominant instrumental sound is the piano, with the bass guitar coming in second (which was never the case in the past 8-() * meaning I can't make up my mind whether or not to give that statement a smiley) There are only a couple of tracks on which I could hear guitar at all definite 8-(((( and just a few more with audible organ. The chorus of backing vocals get credit on one cut, but there are actually several cuts on which obvious backing vocals proclaim 'this is not the old Procol Harum'. (Unless you adopt the viewpoint of the Moody Blues who use female backup singers because they can't hit the high notes any more, in which case this is the *old* Procol Harum, all right).

On the plus side, Brooker is in good voice. I did not study the lyrics included with the booklet (definite plus there), but first impressions are Keith Reid is feeling his age, too. He's traded in his grandiosity for 'more personal, more heartfelt' lyrics. The problem is his grandiosity was the best thing he had going for him. He also throws in a reference to Whiter Shade of Pale, a sure sign of feeling his age.

So, to sum up, it's not a *bad* album, but the first five Procol Harum albums are much better.

We contacted John McIntyre at the 'Astronomy Domine Dept' of Michigan State University, who kindly gave us permission to quote him, adding: 'I confess I'd forgotten about it amazing how the past will come back to haunt you. (-8. Your request did get me to listen to the album again and I find I still agree with my earlier review (seven years ago).

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