Procol Harum

the Pale

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No More Fear of Flying (Chrysalis)

Michael Brown • Atlanta Gazette 27 June – 3 July 1979

The title cut of this confident and comfortable solo début album by Gary Brooker (wing commander of the veteran English group Procol Harum) neatly sums up the intent and achievement of this record. Brooker shows none of the insecure, stylistic diversions of most albums of this sort. Neither does he cling to the coat tails of his own popularized sound. Instead, we have a recording/statement from a vastly underrated vocalist, composer and pianist. Happily, it is a recording ripe with freshness and maturity in times when even the élite of rock resort to the disco influence for a new approach.

Throughout the ten albums of classical rock and roll by Procol Harum, Brooker was always credited on the albums [sic] of with [sic] voice and paino [sic]. It is the voice which dominates again on No More Fear of Flying, for Brooker has always possessed one of the most emotive and powerful instruments in rock.

The captain’s narrative in the classic A Salty Dog is represented here by the power and soaring expressionism [sic] of Savannah, an archetypal story of frustrated lovers who just can't wait to be alone together. On Pilot the darkly romantic side that was Brooker and Procol’s forte comes to the front. An amazingly sincere and emotional vocal by Brooker accompanied only by piano intonates [sic] the first lines, 'You shot me down/you set me up woman/then shot me down.' It is a recurring theme throughout the album – regret over the ending of some seemingly endurable [sic] relationship. Most of the songs settle heavily upon the listener, imparting a melancholy which is soothing, not depressing.

Procol Harum always possessed a dual nature in mood. A healthy sense of the absurd was usually presented to counter balance the more prominent dark melancholy. Get Up and Dance, at first seemingly out of character, is revealed to be a sardonic, humourous [sic] glance at the renewed pasttimes of club dancing.

Throughout the album, George Martin's clean and understated production is perhaps the most effective of his post-Beatle work. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on Brooker's version of the Murray Head song Say it Ain't So Joe, done previously by Roger Daltrey. The combination of Brooker’s plaintive vocals and Martin's subtle string arrangements make [sic] this album overwhelming in its approach to a familiar tune. The backing musicians are reserved yet powerful at the same time on this cut, as they are throughout the album.

No More Fear of Flying is timeless, romance music from one of pop music's most endurable [sic] artists.

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