Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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The Sound - music and radio for young listeners

Robb Baker in The Chicago Tribune ē 21 April 1969


PROCOL HARUM. To me, at least the equal of The Beatles and The Stones as creative forces in Britainís rock industry. And the most consistently brilliant of the three.

The quintet was the overwhelming favorite of the Miami Pop festival [along with newcomer Sweetwater]. It has been excellent each of three times the group played Chicago.

Yet, in spite of all this, people just donít seem to understand. At least not fully enough. There are lots of groups who have not gotten the recognition they deserve, but none so much as this one with the funny Latin name.

The new album, Procolís third in this country and its second for A&M records, is A Salty Dog. My comment halfway thru [sic] was that it didnít sound much like a salty dog. Someone else in the room popped back with, yes, but it sure sounded a lot like Procol Harum. Heís right.

Other than the gull cries and sea sounds that open the first cut, music wise the album isnít really 'of the sea.' But mariner imagery this time dominates Keith Reidís ever-superb lyrics, and the whole return to basic simplicities and calm involved carry out the theme.

A softness exists thruout [sic] the album. This is in distinct contrast to the dissonances that marked [and marked it meaningfully and well] the previous album, Shine on Brightly. That work followed a very trying year for the group, and reflected those difficulties. Perhaps things are better now.

They certainly are very good. No one Ė even the Gibbs of The Bee Gees Ė writes more beautiful music than Matt Fisher and Gary Brooker, the pianist and organist [and vocalists] of the group.

And, of course, the lyrics, by Reid (who is not a performing member of the quintet], are perfectly matched to that music. The images have a strange, ethereal beauty; their meaning is often unfathomable ['Thereís no way to sell the bacon [sic] / When Iím trying to sell you cheese'] but it seems clearly intentional, and works just as Reid probably intends.

Two of the songs, The Devil Came from Kansas [What would Dorothy think?] and All This and More, are quite reminiscent of the first album, on the Deram label.

Of the others, immediate favorites [and I always find my choices changing on each listening of a Harum album, until every cut gets the honor sooner or later] were the title band and Crucifiction [sic] [sic] Lane.

The last band is Pilgrims Progress, and since thereís no apostrophe in the first word, the second must be a verb, making the statement a positive one. It begins, ' sat me down to write a story/Which [sic] in the end became a song' ó and, in turn, that song in the end becomes a slow, steady handclap. Itís not a wild Sgt Pepper type celebration, but somehow you get the impression that, with a kind of unaffected beauty and determination, Procol Harum has come thru.

Thanks, Mary, for the cutting


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