Procol Harum
Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra


4.0
excellent

Review

by Divaman USER (157 Reviews)
October 9th, 2017 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Pailing well after sixteen days, a mammoth task was set/Sack the town, and rob the tower, and steal the alphabet" -- Keith Reid, from "Whaling Stories"

This is a classic live album from the early seventies. It features one of the earlier, and more famous, collaborations between a rock band and a classical music orchestra. Recorded live on November 18, 1971 at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the album finds the progressive rock band Procol Harum performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Da Camera Singers.

The album features five songs in all, four of them being among the band's more epic and theatrical compositions. The recording was quite successful, reaching #5 on the U.S. Billboard charts (although it only got as high as #48 in the UK). It also featured a hit single - the album's re-imagining of the band's song "Conquistador" breathed new life into a heretofore largely-ignored track from their first album. This new live version charted at #7 in Canada, #16 in the U.S. and #22 in the UK.

Within Procol Harum's discography, the album falls between their 1971 release Broken Barricades and 1973's Grand Hotel. It was the first album released after guitarist Robin Trower left the band -- the lineup here is Gary Brooker on vocals and piano, Dave Ball on guitar, Chris Copping on organ and harpsichord, Alan Cartwright on bass and B.J. Wilson on drums. This particular performance also offered a special of treat -- Procol's resident poet/lyricist Keith Reid, the man responsible for the dramatic stories and imagery of their songs, is captured live here reciting the "Held Close" poem from "In Held 'Twas in I".

The original vinyl release of Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra sported four songs on Side One. Opening with the dramatic "Conquistador", which finds Brooker respectfully contemplating the virtues of a vanquished Spanish soldier from a bygone era, the album moves on to "Whaling Stories", a somewhat nonsensical action tale from the band's 1970 Home album. This is followed by the performance of a pair of songs from their 1969 A Salty Dog album: the nautical title track, and "All This and More", a comparatively quiet, piano-driven, number, which serves as a brief respite before the grandiosity of Side Two.

Side Two is composed in its entirety of Procol's most epic track, the nearly twenty-minute long "In Held 'Twas in I". Described by some as a "rock cantata", this song is the band's equivalent of Lord of the Rings. It's also the one song in their catalog that most cries out for the assistance of a symphony orchestra and a vocal choir. There's danger ("Glimpses of Nirvana"), comedy ("'Twas Teatime at the Circus", crisis ("In the Autumn of My Madness"), climax ("Look to Your Soul"), and a majestic instrumental denouement ("Grand Finale"). What does it all mean" I have no idea, but by the track's (and the album's) end, you feel as though you've just concluded a monumental heroic adventure. You're both satisfied and exhausted.

Unlike the majority of live albums, which are at best a small bonus for a band's devoted fanbase, Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is actually an essential part of Procol Harum's discography. If you're in any way an admirer of this band, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this album. In many ways, it's the group's most definitive musical statement.



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user ratings (20)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
October 9th 2017


3964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Here's a Procol Harum fun fact: The seemingly nonsensical title "In Held 'Twas in I" is actually composed of the first word sung (or spoken) in each of the song's five movements:



"IN the darkness of the night..."

"HELD close by that which some despise..."

"'TWAS tea-time at the circus..."

"IN the autumn of my madness"

"I know if I'd been wiser..."



Digging: Barrie - Happy To Be Here

Divaman
October 9th 2017


3964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Second Procol Harum fun fact: Unlike most of Procol Harum's songs, "Conquistador" was a track where the music was written before the lyrics. Gary Brooker composed a musical piece that sounded vaguely Spanish. When he turned it over to Keith Reid, Reid made it into a regretful contemplation about a deceased conquistador.

Friday13th
October 9th 2017


6999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THOUGH I HOPE FOR SOMETHING TO FIND

I CAN SEE NOOOOOOO PLACE TO UNWIND *solo*



Great album. The only odd thing is that there's no "Whiter Shade of Pale." I guess they were trying so hard to prove they're not just a one-hit wonder.

e210013
October 9th 2017


2505 Comments


Nice to see this finally reviewed here. Thanks, Diva.

Despite Procol Harum never was one of my favourite bands, I always liked them very much. Still, this live album was always one of my favourite live albums in the 70's. And it's also, for me, one of their ever best albums, if not the best. This is also one of the earliest collaborations between band and orchestra. In my opinion, it was the first truly successful integration of the sound of an orchestra into the music of a band.

Nice review, man. Pos.

butcherboy
October 9th 2017


9464 Comments


p-----o--------s

DoofusWainwright
October 9th 2017


19991 Comments


This probably won't be my second stop on the Procol loco, but pos for the great review

TheIntruder
October 9th 2017


418 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of the classic live albums of the 70's. Great to see it reviewed here. One of the favourites of my daddy. Have a pos man.

Jethro42
October 9th 2017


15945 Comments


Procol Harum, really, Diva? haha What a coincidence...right after our conversation around The Moodies... :D

''Conquistador'', ''A Salty dog'' and ''In Held Twas In I'' are all classic Procol Harum songs. And I just listened to ''Whaling Stories'' appearing in Home album which was reviewed by you in your early days on sputnik ;) It's a great song well orchestrated with a superb instrumental break. ''All This and More'' is also a great song I forgot about. Album sounds great with the orchestra. And like Friday said, where is Whiter Shade of Pale...?

Good job Diva, and thanks for your ''fun facts''!

Divaman
October 9th 2017


3964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks everyone. Interestingly, Procol Harum and The Moody Blues are two of the classic progressive rock bands of the '70s who still have a bunch of albums that have never been reviewed on this site. I'm sure I'll be coming back to each of them again.

Jethro42
October 9th 2017


15945 Comments


Yeah there is room for covering other albums in both camps. I would like to see you reviewing Grand Hotel. For the Moody Blues, you have a lot of choice, preferably from the 70's. ''Long Distance Voyager'' from 1981 contains couple of their greatest tracks. I don't know any of their albums past that one.

Friday13th
October 9th 2017


6999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"'Long Distance Voyager' from 1981 contains a couple of their greatest tracks."

Jethro, when I went to a Moody Blues concert, I pictured you among the snobs in the back with arms crossed, nodding in approval only to tracks from the classic 7. NOT one of the guys dancing in the front to "Gemini Dream"! XD

Friday13th
October 9th 2017


6999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha Jokes aside, I concur with Jethro. You should review Grand Hotel, Diva.

Divaman
October 10th 2017


3964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If no one else does it, I'll probably review "Exotic Birds & Fruit" before that.

Jethro42
October 10th 2017


15945 Comments


''Jethro, when I went to a Moody Blues concert, I pictured you among the snobs in the back with arms crossed, nodding in approval only to tracks from the classic 7. NOT one of the guys dancing in the front to "Gemini Dream"! XD''

lol yeah, you get the picture, but your imagination didn't see all the details... my lips were moving, whispering the words and I was toe-tapping like a daddy cool... I'm always ready to surf on the new wave :D

The Captain leads his dance right on through the night
Join the dance!
Follow on! lalala lalala la laaaaa

Friday13th
October 10th 2017


6999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha



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