Procol Harum

the Pale

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Something Magic

Contemporary album review

Bert Saraco writes to BtP

This is a review that I just unearthed from a recent garage-sale. Newsbeat was a local Long Island paper. 'Music Box' was the album-review section, represented here by the review of Something Magic. What's interesting is that it's mostly positive but features an appreciation of the album that's pretty much in reverse to what most fans seem to feel - if the tracks went from weakest to strongest ... well - you do the Math, as they say here. The comments in brackets are mine.

Mike Derevany in Newsbeat, 28 March 1977: Music Box


Procol Harum, the ten-year-old band of Grand Hotel fame, has put out their tenth album, Something Magic, a product which demonstrates the vitality of a group which has seen many changes and setbacks that would seriously damage the integrity of lesser groups. Old age may have slowed down Procol, but it hasnít completely destroyed their originality.

The title cut, Something Magic placed first on side one, is a stilted piece of regurgitated pop-classic mush that does an injustice to this group and seriously risks the formerly good reputation Procol has had as an innovator and for polished musicianship. [Gee, thatís one that I liked right from the start! Itís got the classic Ďgrandí Procol sound with both drama and humor. A song with a beginning, middle and end]

Skating On Thin Ice is somewhat better caliber than Something Magic but is still prey to the same failings. On Wizard Man, the third cut, it becomes obvious that Procol has placed the cuts in order of quality, beginning with worst and ending with the better (better, that is, than the first cut). [Letís see....that would make the best song ... ]

Wizard Man is a strong pseudo-ballad that has a positive flavor of Procolís former strength. The following song, The Mark of the Claw, is another well-rounded cut which abounds in the early mannerisms that gave the group such power. This and the last cut, Strangers in Space, are tied for best on side one; their stylistic differences prevent an easy choice of one over the other. Strangers is a slow, disembodied tune with an almost mystical quality to it. The Mark is quiet but driving without being overpowering; it achieves its appeal by grabbing at oneís attention firmly, but with good manners. [what?!]

Side two shows that Procol has decided to play with one of the prevalent phenomena: the concept piece. This they do quite well. Side two, entitled The Worm and the Tree, tells a simple fable that is rife with profound illusions to the process of life and growth. Its music is dynamic and well suited to the tale; it runs a full gamut of emotion.

More reviews of Procol Harum albums

More reviews of this particular album

Something Magic reappraised by Bert Saraco

Something Magic
the album in question

Something Missing
ruminations about the lost tracks


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