Procol Harum
Procol Harum


4.0
excellent

Review

by vanderb0b USER (63 Reviews)
December 11th, 2010 | 53 replies | 5,998 views


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And so it was that later, as the miller told his tale, that her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

The late nineteen sixties and early seventies were a time of radical societal changes in Western countries. The hippie culture that was largely embraced for almost a decade finally began to decline in the face of increasing opposition. Women, following the example of African American civil rights activists, would become more and more vocal in their campaign for equality. Technology grew exponentially, and electronics began to play a larger role in everyday life. Further accentuating this change, The Beatles, unarguably the poster-boys of sixties culture and music, disbanded. In short, a couple of years entirely changed the face of society.

All these change served as perfect catalysts for the evolution of music, and so the psychedelia of the mid-sixties grew into progressive rock. Procol Harum was one of the first bands to jump onto this trend, and their debut, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, would set the standards for the genre (that is, until King Crimson would release the genre-defining In The Court Of The Crimson King).

A Whiter Shade Of Pale was released when prog rock wasn’t yet the norm, but some artists, bored with contemporary styles, had begun to expand the blues and psychedelic formulae. As a result, the album is very much an amalgam of the two genres: the bluesy grit of artists like Jimi Hendrix is mixed with the melodic tendencies of Pink Floyd, and a slight touch of baroque influence is thrown in every once a while. The latter is provided courtesy of Matthew Fisher, whose performance on the organ is one of the most stunning in rock music. His trusty hammond is seen here playing everything from jazzy solos (the best of which could be found in Salad Days) to Bach-inspired tunes, all of which sound surprisingly natural amongst a bluesy backdrop.

Procol Harum’s compositions are, like those of almost any other progressive band, theatrical and, for the most part, complex, but, unlike their contemporaries, the band never descends into pointless meandering and the songs never feel overblown. Organs, pianos, guitars, and even the occasional horns all intertwine and play atop one another, but never does the music become confusing and overwhelming.

Fortunately, the songs are all blessed with the succinctness usually found in blues music, and thus nothing on the album overstays its welcome. Not even Repent Walpugis, a five minute long instrumental which manages to blend melancholy, soulful blues with a Bach prelude, seems unnecessarily bombastic or dreary (indeed, it might just be the best thing on here).

Also of note are Keith Reid’s lyrics, most of which, aside from the fittingly straightforward Mabel, are dense, surreal works that rely less on meaning and more on atmosphere. Fittingly poetic and intelligent, but rarely pretentious, these texts serve as the perfect accompaniments to ethereal songs like She Wandered Through the Garden Fence and Conquistador.

What we have here is perhaps the most interesting and relevant album to be released in the turbulent time when the first foundations of progressive rock were being laid. A Whiter Shade Of Pale is worth the time of anybody even vaguely interested in the genre; hell, that organ alone justifies a listen.

4.2/5



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
December 11th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is prog mastery. These guys are really unknown here, I might do some more PH review in the near future.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010



16134 Comments


Great review. Album definitely needed one, along with some more recognition.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010



7140 Comments


I am glad I dragged you away from your piano to complete this very well-written piece. Have a pos.

I might check these guys out - the way you describe them makes me feel like they're something I would like. Do write more on them, if you have time. Improved database with more reviews = always better.

vanderb0b
December 11th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks!

@Irving
Check this song out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZXNGLvFg_M
If you like it, chances are you'll enjoy the rest of the album.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2010



7140 Comments


Thanks! I'll give it a shot!

Jethro42
December 11th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good return in the spirit of the 60s, vanderb0b. Like both Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Soft Machine and The Byrds among others, Procol Harum certainly paved the way to the progressive rock to come. At that time there were no restrictions at all to create, and so it brought to us full of epic albums.
A little detail to point out at the 3rd paragraph: ''...contemporary style
A Whiter Shade of Pale, Conquistador and Repent Walpurgis are the only 3 songs I know on here. I want a copy of that influential album.

vanderb0b
December 11th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You should definitely get this, Jethro, I could definitely see you liking this a lot. Thanks for pointing out that error.

Jethro42
December 11th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Your welcome bro. Another ProgJect review is done, just saying. this time I've covered Strawbs - Grave New World (prog folk, I think I've told you about these fellas) Nagrarok surely is gonna put it on the map when he log in, hopefully tomorrow.

vanderb0b
December 11th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I've listened to Strawbs before (thanks to you). I've heard to a couple of their albums and it's really good stuff. By the way, check this song out, it might just be my favorite by PH. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_W67hc6HgQ

Jethro42
December 11th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome song. I can't help but giving you 2 links that came to my mind, not sure why.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3M8Sk7X51k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0oxZeg5S28&feature=fvst


thebhoy
Emeritus
December 12th 2010



4459 Comments


Procol Harum are great. Whiter Shade of Pale has such a great organ part.

vanderb0b
December 12th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Jethro
Both enjoyable songs, though I preferred the Traffic song by a bit.

@thebhoy
Yeah, that song and Salad Days have the best organ parts here.

Jethro42
December 12th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey vanderb0b, dude, I could see you digging The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle (1968), a pure bliss of pop/psychedelic. A classic, cheers man!

vanderb0b
December 12th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I know that album. It's incredible.

Jethro42
December 12th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Totally.
Edit: Salad Days is a great song. Sounds like some good Bob Dylan.

Jethro42
December 13th 2010



12365 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

k. Album is an easy 4. Grand Hotel might soon deserve the same score.

Yotimi
February 13th 2011



6438 Comments


Just heard A Whiter Shade of Pale and realize I need to get this now

Ire
March 13th 2011



41746 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ same

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 22nd 2011



19959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's so much more to this band than just A Whiter Shade of Pale. This, Shine on Brightly and Grand Hotel are all brilliant albums. A Salty Dog is good too.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2011



19959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Repent Walpurgis is such a great instrumental.



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