Bringing Home the Bacon / Shine on Brightly / The VIP Room / Pandora's Box / Learn To Fly / (You Can't) Turn Back the Page / Homburg / Simple Sister / A Rum Tale / Grand Hotel / One Eye on the Future / Worried Life Blues / Conquistador / An Old English Dream / A Whiter Shade of Pale / Whisky Train / A Salty Dog
Downloaded this album last night just after its release and have been playing it all day, when work permitted! Just like old times with a new Procol Harum album – excitement, then a wee problem with two tracks defectively downloaded. This reminded me of Home all those years ago which jumped at the rumbling of Still There’ll be More – it took me three vinyl copies from EMI before I got a good one [Same here ... Ed]! Happily I was successful with downloading the two songs at the second time of asking (it seems there was a file fault)
These recordings come from two venues on Procol's 2007 Italian tour and are as clear as any studio recording would be. Musical and lyrics flubs are virtually absent – well they did pick the best performances. It’s great to hear Gary getting through Shine on Brightly without starting the third verse wrong, as he did at Union Chapel. He even does a couple of the Italian lines from Il Tuo Diamante, as well as of course using some conversational Italian in talking to the audience. Naturally it’s “Italian girls who love to fight” in Grand Hotel.
The band (and Gary’s voice) are on top form throughout and breathe new life to some of the songs – Bringing Home the Bacon is the usual showcase with a snatch of TV Caesar from GB (unless I’m mistaken); Pandora's Box gets an extended three-way interplay between piano, organ and guitar. Learn to Fly is a tour de force for Geoff Whitehorn (I always thought there was excellent Trower playing on the original, which was largely lost in the fade-out). Perhaps there’s a shade too much tick-tock in Homburg. AWSoP is credited to three writers on the artwork, but is entirely conventional (but with a bit more guitar) Whisky Train has a fantastic extended solo of some power and variety from Geoff Dunn – his work generally is right on the money, though less accented than Mark B and BJW.
There are two new songs. Worried Life Blues is the type of concert selection the band like doing (for a change?) and their own One Eye on the Future could be described as bright and tuneful, with good chords/melody, and pitched in the evolutionary spiral somewhere half-way between Prodigal Stranger and Well's on Fire. In past times it might have been viewed as a 'single' for the wireless, but it's really not classic Procol Harum.
We have a band who are technically faultless and sound like they are enjoying themselves (local Italian food and drink probably help!)
All in all, a worthy interim collector’s item to put alongside our collections of live gigs, but we live in hope for more new stuff in 2009 and beyond. And the concerts to promote them – here there and everywhere!
Charlie Allison, Scotland.
The tracklisting (including two hitherto-unrecorded songs) will delight the committed fan and offer a great 'best-of' taster for the non-specialist listener: whoever you are, you'll be hearing a world-class rock band at the top of its game. To download the whole show, or individual tracks, click this 'Buy Now' link