Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Reviewed online here by BadCat

This review is reproduced from here ... there is some surprising stuff in the review below.

While instantly recognisable as a Procol Harum project, anyone expecting to hear another set of pseudo-progressive, or classically-tinged moves was in for a major surprise with the release of 1970's Home. Produced by Chris Thomas, this probably stands as my favorite Procol Harum release, if only because it was the most rock-oriented. That was due in large measure to guitarist Robin Thrower's [sic] new found activism - he contributed two of the standout performances (Whiskey [sic] Train and About to Die) and was featured on several other tracks. Interesting; though it marked the band's first post-Matthew Fisher release, Fisher's keyboard flourishes were barely missed with newcomer Chris Copping ably picking up the slack on organ and bass (where he also served to replace David Knights). While you couldn't label this a concept piece, the nine tracks seemed to share a common theme built around the concept of death ... just check out some of the song titles The Dead Man's Dream and About to Die ... Off [sic] course it could be that I've simply read to much into it. Beats me, but I'm sure some Procol scholar can clue me in on it the album's true meaning.

1.) Whiskey [sic] Train (Keith Reid - Robin Trower) - 4:28

One of two Robin Trower compositions (as always Keith Reid provided lyrics to all nine songs), Whiskey [sic] Train was a full tilt blues-rocker powered by Trower's fat, fuzz drenched and instantly recognisable lead guitar. Elsewhere Gary Brooker's always ragged voice proved surprisingly adept at hard rock. Great track and made you wish the band did more in the hard rock vein. rating: **** stars

2.) The Dead Man's Dream (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 4:48

Penned by Brooker and Reid, the dark ballad The Dead Man's Dream was a much more typical Procol number - Brooker's spoken word rant about a dream centering on a cemetery and corpses full of maggots was certainly depressing, but was also so over the top as to be a hoot. Coming after the opening rocker it didn't do a great deal for my ears, but longtime fans probably had a different opinion. rating: ** stars

3.) Still There'll Be More (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 4:50

Brooker's never been known for his rockers, but Still There'll Be More aptly demonstrated he could write an out-and-out rocker and deliver a searing vocal to go with it. Kicked along by a great lyric focusing on the concept of revenge, the song also boasted the album's most commercial melody (though lyrics like 'I'll piss on your door' probably limited airplay possibilities), and another blazing Trower solo, this was one of the album highlights. rating: **** stars

4.) Nothing That I Didn't Know (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 3:34

Nothing That I Didn't Know melded another pretty melody and one of Brooker's most polished vocals with one of Reid's most heartbreaking lyrics - to my ears the song seemed to describe the premature death of a young woman and her friends inability to stave of fate [sic]. A personal favorite ... rating: **** stars

5.) About to Die (Keith Reid - Robin Trower) - 3:37
The thick, sustained opening guitar chords told you About to Die was the second Trower contribution and while it didn't rock as hard as Whiskey [sic] Train, it was still worth hearing. Drummer BJ Wilson proved the band's secret weapon on this one, turning in a performance that was simultaneously in-your face powerful, but also served to support the song's nifty melody. rating: **** stars

(side 2)

1.) Barnyard Story (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) -5:45

With the spotlight firmly on Brooker and his piano, side two's plodding ballad Barnyard Story just never kicked into gear and stood as the set's first disappointment. rating: ** stars

2.) Piggy Pig Pig (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 4:49

The cryptic Piggy Pig Pig was another track that took awhile [sic] to get rolling, but the combination of Brooker's pounding barrelhouse piano, Copping's [sic] stabbing Hammond B3, and Trower's power chords turned it into another personal favorite. Not sure what the pig sounds were about. rating: *** stars

-3.) Whaling Stories (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 7:05

The epic Whaling Stories found Brooker and company falling back on known tricks of the trade, including one of Reid's most bombastic lyrics, a melody that kept on building to climax after climax (possible given the song stretched over seven minutes), and another great performance from Trower. Anyone looking for classic Procol needed look no farther than this one. rating: **** stars

4.) Your Own Choice (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 3:09

Packaged in the album's bounciest melody and some lovely BJ Wilson drumming, for anyone who doubted these guys had a sense of humor, Your Own Choice was great evidence to the contrary. Yeah, Reid's dark side was clearly on display, but you still had to smile at a lyric like 'There's too many women and not enough wine ...' Shame this one didn't get tapped a single. rating: ***** stars

Ignore the butt ugly cover and buy a copy of this one since you can still find it on the cheap.


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