Procol Harum

the Pale

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Bobby Harrison's Funkist

Reviewed for BtP by Bert Saraco

Bobby Harrison, voice and drums
Ian Paice, drums
Micky Moody, guitar
Matthew Fisher, keyboards
Chris Stewart, bass
Walt Monogham, bass
Clem Cattini, drums
Herbie Flowers, bass
Bob Sargent, keyboards
Tony Iommi, guitar
Henry McCulloch, drums
Ray Owen, voice

Cleopatra Jones
Joe Simon

Whiskey Head
Harrison / Monaghan

Thinkin' 'bout You
Harrison / Monaghan

King of the Night
Harrison / Sargeant

Little Linda Lovejoy
Harrison / Sargeant

Goffin / Goldberg

Long Gone
Harrison / Moody

Looking for a Friend
Harrison / Sargeant

Perhaps the biggest surprise upon listening to Bobby Harrison’s Funkist CD is how far removed it is from a Procol Harum sound. To broadly characterize the music on this disc I’d have to call it Post-70s Blue-eyed Funk & Soul. Bobby Harrison is mostly showcased as a vocalist here, much in the style of a David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears or Denny Correll ( ‘Ride, Captain, Ride’ ... anybody remember the name of the band?). The sound has more to do with Soul Train than Whiskey Train.

The tracks seem to’ve been collected from more than one project and, I suspect, tracks 1 and 6 were the A & B sides to a single - these 2 songs come from a different publishing company from the rest and sound like the super-slick Shaft and Superfly school of production, as opposed to the more intimate sound of the rest of the album - track 1, as a matter of fact, is called Cleopatra Jones - one would assume it was intended for the film of the same name. Track 6 is a similar style song with Screen Gems as the publishing company, according to the liner notes - the same song is credited on the back cover, however, to ‘Screen Germs,’ which is either a typo or a clever barb at this very slick 80s' production.

The balance of the CD is made up of average to better-than-average Blue-Eyed Soul that draws influences from James Brown to Delaney & Bonnie but never seems to really nail down a specific band sound. If a solid, identifiable band sound begins to emerge, it is by track 8 (the final track): Looking For a Friend. The song is a slow, ‘churchy’ ballad effectively using a choir and, I assume, Matthew Fisher on organ - there’s an over-all feeling reminiscent of Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, and that’s not bad! This, the final tune, also seems to indicate the spiritual direction that Harrison was heading in and that, perhaps, accounts for the more intense and heartfelt performance.

Production (except for tracks 1 & 6) is credited to Bobby Harrison and Matthew Fisher. To this listener, the most Procol Harum influence (if that’s what you’re looking for) can be heard on track 7 (Long Gone), a funky, rockin’ blues built on a strong guitar-lick that perhaps might bring to mind Whisky Train, in spirit.

The musicians involved: Bobby Harrison, Chris Stewart, Mick Moody, Matthew Fisher (who can be heard on two tracks), Walt Monogham, Clem Cattiini, Herbie Flowers, Claire & Zoey, Ian Paice, Tony Iommi, Henry McCulloch and Bob Sargent & Ray Owen. Unfortunately, the individual tracks are not detailed as to ‘who did what with who.’

Why is it called Funkist? Well, the artwork includes an image of an orange (Sunkist?). On the other hand, some of it’s ‘fun.’ Then again, there’s a lot of ‘funk’ to be heard, but not as solidly funky as Sly or James ... maybe just ‘kissed’ by funk?


Draw your own conclusions. Bert Saraco (of Bert & Carina)


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