Procol Harum

the Pale 

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The Keith Reid Project

In My Head • reviewed online by Dmitri Epstein

Legendary rock lyricist emerges out of self-imposed oblivion to bring new glory to old barricades.

There’s a mystery surrounding the reasons of  Keith Reid parting company with the band he’d served up rhymes and narrative for since before the Summer of Love, but the title of this album may suggest what space the poet occupies now. “Those alive will meet the prophets, those at peace shall see their wake,” wrote Reid many moons ago in a song referenced on the record’s cover, yet – as was in the case of The Common Thread which saw The KRP come into existence a decade ago – there’s no proselytising; instead, Keith is giving a verdict to the world, although those seeking clues to what went down between him and the group will have a field day here. It’s another playground for the veteran: that’s why, supplied with several voices and no concept per se, In My Head doesn’t sound disjointed.

Undoubtedly, the album’s focal (or, to be precise, aural) point would be The Trial of the Century – of course, Reid being Reid, it’s impossible to say whether such a sad and sarcastic waltz was meant as a comment on the A Whiter Shade of Pale litigation – yet, respectively, classical and bluesy piano and Maya Saxell’s mournful vocals on This Space is Vacant and Dance with Me suffuse the record with immense sorrow caused by emptiness anyone can suddenly encounter when something goes missing and, thus, breaks the routine: that’s a true trial for ability to put life’s details into perspective. Wearing a brave face like the title track’s protagonist does, doused in liquid guitar and burning slowly, must be optional, because pretending to be Lemmy should require a lot of stamina: not for nothing there’s a call for slowing down to observe it all in the beginning and for the need to be strong further on, in Thieves Road, where slivers of sympathy, delivered by the project’s stalwart Steve Booker, cut through the folksy caress.

Contrast is a substantial part of the context so, by wrapping The Bank of Worry in a soul cocoon and passing the number to Jeff Young’s silken cords, Reid achieved the progressive sensibility he’s always been known for, with another KRP mainstay John Waite taking the strings-drenched balladry of All I Need to Know to the lofty peaks of the past. All one needs to know would always remain in their head, but stealing the alphabet to articulate can’t be anything other than a mammoth task: that’s why we’re lucky to have Keith as both an accomplice and instigator of this adorable crime.

Keith Reid's words
outside Procol Harum

Keith Reid's words
for Procol Harum
First Keith Reid project album

Keith Reid's page at
'Beyond the Pale'

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