Procol Harum

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Four Repertoire re-releases

Reviewed by Brad Bradberry in Goldmine No 579


Grand Hotel Repertoire (Rep 491.6) (German import)
Exotic Birds and Fruit Repertoire (Rep 4917) (German import)
Procol's Ninth Repertoire (Rep 4919) (German import)
Something Magic Repertoire (Rep 4918) (German import)


Arriving on the heels of Procol Harum's 1972 Live In Concert With The Edmonton Orchestra, Grand Hotel attempted to repeat that success. The epic opener title track is a Tchaikovsky-styled European Hotel California. Rocker Toujours L'Amour shows off new guitarist Mick Grabham's biting style. Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) features a female vocalist from France's Swingle Singers, who adds an operatic flavor. A Rum Tale is essentially a rock waltz. This album, though eclectic, hangs together well after all these years. The two bonus tracks are merely single-edits of album tracks.

Exotic Birds and Fruit, from 1974, starts with the galloping rocker Nothing But The Truth. With muted strings and pounding piano, it was the first single. The Bob Dylan-esque As Strong As Samson finds lyricist Keith Reid wedding his words to an addictive melody by Gary Brooker ("Psychiatrists and lawyers destroying mankind / driving them crazy and stealing them blind"). This album is probably the most overlooked of all the group's albums, and all nine tracks are solid. The bonus tracks are a single-edit of Truth and a remix of Sampson [sic] [The reviewer overlooks the bonus track, Drunk Again]

For 1975's Procol's Ninth, the band enlisted the legendary songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as producers. As a result the band's 'classical rock' sound is heavily diluted practically nonexistent. They did manage to score a minor hit with the catchy Pandora's Box. There are some good songs sprinkled throughout; Gary Brooker's singing on Leiber and Stoller's I Keep Forgetting hits the mark. The Unquiet Zone sounds like vintage Procol in a percussive rock mode. The cover of The Beatles' Eight Days A Week, however, is outright embarrassing.

1977's Something Magic is anything but. A new keyboard player relies more on synthesizer, throwing out the church-like Hammond sound. The title track is a decent single, string-laden, with classical overtones. Mick Grabham receives his first songwriting credit on the tough Mark Of The Claw. The rest are banal attempts to recapture past glories. Half the album is wasted with the spoken-word The Worm and the Tree. Bonus tracks are the instrumental B-side Backgammon and Wizard Man. The latter is an Eagles-sounding rocker that is actually on the US version of the original album. [and on the UK one]


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More Procol / Brooker re-releases from Repertoire Records

Another review of the same four re-releases