Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum Rock NYCB Theatre at Westbury

5 November 2010 • Dave Gil de Rubio at Long Island Press

Procol Harum @ NYCB Theatre at Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Rd. 8 p.m. $40-$60. 800-745-3000 800-745-3000

Far more than just a one-hit prog-rock wonder behind the epic Boomer ballad Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum was and is a band whose unique fusion of blues, soul, classical and baroque influences made them symphonic rock pioneers. The reissue of expanded versions of the following quartet of latter-day albums by UK-based reissues specialists Union Square Music makes for an intriguing look back at this overlooked British outfit.

Grand Hotel – The first post-Robin Trower record leaned heavily on more orchestral arrangements that make for a very sophisticate [sic] listening experience. Highlights of the band’s Crysalis [sic] Records debut include the soaring and grandiose title cut and A Souvenir of London, a jaunty number about social diseases originally banned by the BBC..

Exotic Birds & Fruit – For this 1974 outing, the band stripped back the strings and came out of the gate with a grittier batch of songs that included Nothing But the Truth, a stirring opener goosed along by Chris Copping’s pounding organ, and the bonus cut Drunk Again, a full-out rocker punctuated by Gary Brooker’s vocal swagger and rollicking piano runs.

Procol’s Ninth – Pop songwriters Leiber and Stoller were tapped to produce this 1975 release and while originals like the marimba-laced opener Pandora’s Box make for good listening, cover versions of the producers’ I Keep Forgetting and The Beatles’ Eight Days a Week fall flat.

Something Magic – The band’s last album before reuniting for 1991’s Prodigal Son [sic] , this 1977 release crashed under the weight of disagreements with producers Ron and Howie Albert and The Worm and the Tree, a lumbering and pretentious musical suite penned by band lyricist Keith Reid that takes up the latter half of the record.

Procol dates in 2010 

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