Procol Harum

the Pale

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BBC Live in Concert / Pandora's Box

Reviewed in Record Collector No. 246, February 2000

BBC Live In Concert : Strange Fruit SFRSCD 089 (59:19)

Pandora's Box : Westside WESA 821 (42:50)

Recorded at Golders Green in 1974, BBC Live In Concert captures the band around the time of their upbeat Exotic Birds And Fruit album. While their popularity was beginning to wane by 1974, Procol Harum were rightly recognised as one of the finest live acts of the period. Highlights of this release include particularly tight renditions of Nothing But The Truth and As Strong As Samson, which are actually improvements on their studio counterparts. Avid collectors will also be delighted to discover that the album includes Bringing Home The Bacon, which didn't form part of the original broadcast. Including reasonably detailed sleevenotes, with comments from group members Gary Brooker and Chris Copping, it's an essential purchase for devotees of the band. [There were of course comments from all surviving group members but these were omitted from the sleevenotes in a mix-up (RC)]

To complete their Procol Harum reissue series, Westside have finally unearthed rare and unissued stereo versions of tracks from PH's first album. Aimed at completing the set, the sleevenotes tell the story of the find. Procol fans will lap it up, but to casual punters, the Brooker / Reid songs are merely quaint period pieces - none more so than In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence, which was the non-album flip-side of Quite Rightly So. A true stereo version of A Whiter Shade Of Pale will undoubtedly attract a few, but without the use of that particular melody in 1967, it's doubtful if this album would ever have seen the light of day.

Rich Wilson / Kingsley Abbott

Thanks, Tormod

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