Procol Harum

the Pale

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Grand Hotel

1973: Friday Music re-issue, 2004

Fantastic to hear so much detail on this attractively-packaged reissue from the folks at Friday Music ... it really sounds terrific ...Beach Boy Bruce Johnston certainly recommends it! Fans may feel that they don't need another version of this album, but there's a tasty bonus-track ... Grand Hotel / Over the Rainbow, which was briefly available in 1975 on the Chrysalis LP commemorating the closing of the Rainbow Theatre in London. In case you need convincing, there's a snippet from it below ... and a few lucky fans won it in BtP's Autumn Competition (thanks, Friday!)

Gary Brooker – piano, vocal, orchestrations
Keith Reid – words
BJWilson – drums and (22 Mandolins)
Chris Copping – organ
Alan Cartwright – bass
Mick Grabham – guitar
Dave Ball and Denny Brown – spoons on A Souvenir of London
The Pahene Recorder Ensemble on Bringing Home the Bacon
Christianne Legrand featured soprano on Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)
Producer – Chris Thomas 

Grand Hotel

Toujours l'Amour

A Rum Tale

TV Ceasar

A Souvenir Of London

Bringing Home The Bacon

For Liquorice John

Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) 

Robert's Box

[Bonus track] Grand Hotel (+ over the Rainbow) (live, 1975): mp3 sample here

Liner Note
After an exceptional run of artistic achievements, with classic material ranging from A Whiter Shade of Pale to Salty Dog, Procol Harum delivered one of their finest albums with the stellar Grand Hotel. Founders Gary Brooker and Keith Reid conceived this 1973 masterpiece on the heels of their platinum effort Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In the midst of their most commercial acclaim, the band was evolving into a new phase as guitarist Dave Ball was replaced by Cochise’s Mick Grabham, Chris Copping switched to full time organ, while Alan Cartwright had been recruited a year earlier to play bass.

While on the road supporting their successful live album, it had been a few years since the powerful duo of Brooker and Reid had written new material for an album. The creation process of Grand Hotel was taking form during their much heralded 1972 concerts. Inspired by their tour throughout Europe and residing at the finest establishments of the day, the title track exemplifies a most exciting period for the band. Building from Brooker’s sole piano introduction, the listener knows they will soon be embarking on a one of a kind musical journey. The lyrics are classic Keith Reid, brilliantly illustrated with visions of grandeur “Tonight we sleep on silken sheets. We drink fine wine and eat rare meats.” Truly a defining moment for this great band.

This stunning effort continues with more memorable offerings like the dark comedy of the rocker Toujours L’Amour. Reid’s satirical wit remains unmatched “I came home to an empty flat. She’d left me a note and taken the cat.” Featuring their newest guitarist Mick Grabham, this track along with others like Bringing Home The Bacon and Robert’s Box displays his seasoned guitar approach similar to their previous Procol Harum standards like Simple Sister.

A Rum Tale has the makings of a Hollywood movie complete with all of the key elements: a sad love story, a waltz-like tempo, chilling organ fills by Chris Copping and the convincing vocals of Gary Brooker “I’m buying an island, somewhere in the sun. I’ll hide from the natives, live only on rum.”

Flown in from Paris especially for the recording of Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) was The Swingle Singers’ famed vocalist Christianne Legrand. The track netted one of the more intricate and cohesive performances ever recorded by Procol Harum. Their knack of skillful delivery provides a wonderful landscape for some very masterful lyrics “Fires which burnt brightly, now energies spent.”

Complete with lush orchestrations and skillful instrumentation by members Gary Brooker (Piano and Vocals) Keith Reid (Lyrics), Chris Copping (Organ), the late B.J. Wilson (Drums), Alan Cartwright (Bass) and Mick Grabham (Guitar), Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel was truly a crowning moment for this classic rock act.

As an added treat for the fans, Gary Brooker has located a bonus track for this newly remastered CD, a very rare live version of Grand Hotel & Somewhere Over The Rainbow from a 1975 performance at the closing of The Rainbow Theatre in London. Available for a very limited time back in 1976 on the Chrysalis LP Over The Rainbow.

Although Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel has gone on to earn a solid reputation as being one of their most definitive achievements, it hasn’t been available in North America for quite some time. Friday Music is proud to present this important chapter in the history of Procol Harum once again. Memorable lyrics, shining vocals and extraordinary musicianship are on this musical menu. Grand Hotel fulfills your musical pallet [sic]. Bon Appetit!

Joe Reagoso 2004

Thanks, Jill, for the typing


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