Procol Harum

the Pale

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Home ... Plus!


Fred Schröter

The first question of course: should you buy it?

As compared to the sound quality of the other CD-releases it is in my opinion sounding better, although I am more fond of the sound of my original Regal Zonophone vinyl, which after 29 years is still in good condition. Anyone who has only heard the vinyl re-issue on Cube records or the CD-re-issue on Castle Communications can experience a better-sounding Home.

As for the ... Plus! it is a different matter.

It is great fun to hear what eventually lead to the Liquorice John recording (which is also great fun to put into your CD-player).

It is followed by The Dead Man's Dream which is quite another approach with at 1:54 some dropping out of the organ; there is a stop somehow or a wrong note by Chris Copping that should not have been there.

Westside didn't do me a great favour with letting me hear that Procol could have a laugh. Or was it some other message those good people wanted to share with me? Didn't they have a laugh when Matthew Fisher and David Knights were still there?

Then there is an instrumental take of Still There'll Be More, which gives you an insight to melodic lines which were formerly obscured by Gary's voice. The same goes for About to Die. It is still one of my Procol favorites.

Barnyard Story has a lot more momentum than the take that saw the light on Home. It should have been there instead, but I think that for the change of register near the end at 2:04 which gives an unpleasant pause in the organ it didn't make it. The version on Home is flowing much more easily from beginning to end.

It is followed by a funny version of Piggy Pig Pig, which alone is worth buying this CD for, because it shows the fun they had recording it!

We'll move on to Your Own Choice. It is as good a version as the original although it shows one more time that Procol doesn't know how to put an end to things.

Whaling Stories finishes the ... Plus! section. It is nice (and not more than that) to hear how Gary directs the Procol performances.

I think this CD is worth buying not only for the sound improvement, but also for The Dead Man's Dream, Barnyard Stories and Piggy Pig Pig of the ... Plus! section.

Home marked the end of the recordings on Regal Zonophone. It was also the end of an era. After Home Procol sounded quite differently from what we were used to. From then on it was the "Chrysalis Years".

Looking back at the four ... Plus! releases I think that the first one was the best of them all. This of course was due to the rediscovery of a first-generation production master, which enabled us all to hear what we missed for all those years: A good-sounding first album, with ten completed bonus tracks, and just over 70 minutes' playing time. It was beaten by Home with over 77 minutes of playing time.

Shine On Brightly had 8 completed bonus tracks and yes, you should buy this one. Then comes A Salty Dog with only 5 bonus tracks. The good people at Westside have to use incomplete tracks (The Milk Of Human Kindness and Pilgrim's Progress) and a track that shouldn't have been there (yes, I mean number 16). But of course there is McGreggor ... Question should you buy it for that only interesting track? I think not!

And then there is Home with even more incomplete tracks, but it is the longest ... Plus! re-issue.

Maybe this time next year Westside will announce the 20-bit remasters of these four albums.

Who knows? In the mean time maybe Gary or Matthew or Robin may give us a treat with a new album, with new numbers and not those from three decades ago. And if they don't it is just as well. I hope that either of these three makes a new record, maybe the three of them together, but I'd like think of The Prodigal Stranger as the final Procol Harum record, made as a monument for BJ Wilson.

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