Procol Harum Shine on Brightly : Home Cube Records Double Back 10, £2.40.
Let's own up, I'm a sucker for anything by Gary Brooker and Procol, and if they designed wallpaper I'd be the first in line. Brooker, not forgetting his lyric-writer Keith Reid, is an immensely talented composer who, since the days of Whiter Shade of Pale, has rarely let up. Shine on Brightly, originally issued in 1968, is the very best Procol album to date, featuring the colossal In Held 'Twas In I
Within In Held Procol show us the full range and many moods of their music – from the frivolous 'Twas Teatime at the Circus to the reverent and moving Grand Finale, that sounds like a Bach organ recital, plus. And there are novelties like thunder, church bells and crowd noises to sharpen and add continuity to the overall sound.
But what makes this particular album so strong is its consistency. On Side One there's hardly a dull moment with a running order reading Quite Rightly So, Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) and Rambling On . And backing In Held on side two is Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone).
Procol's work is not beyond reproach, of course. A succession of guitarists (currently Mick Grabham) have still to sort out where they fit into Brooker's visionary brand of music and on Home you can sense the same strain that was present on Broken Barricades, their first recording on the Chrysalis label.
Robin Trower is more rock- or blues-based and the two factions collide on several Home tracks: Whisky Train, for instance. Sometimes the result is very much along the lines of The Band, although Procol could be said to have given The Band their lead, rather the reverse. Home is an album with half the style and imagination of Shine on Brightly , yet there are tracks that stand out: Whaling Stories, Piggy Pig Pig and Those About to Die [sic]. Procol's new album Grand Hotel is due shortly but if you missed this pair the first time around they are well worth the investment of £2.40.