Friday, March 20, 2015

Procol Harum – Procol’s Ninth

   In the history of progressive rock, Procol Harum is one of bands forming basics of the genre. Their first hit single A Whiter Shade of Pale made them instantly famous, but when they achieved success, it had promoted also the way of creating relations between rock and various elements of historic genres and styles. In late sixties this was only a kind of the idea but later was associated with intertextual relations between rock and historic music of other centuries as it had happened in jazz 20 years earlier. This idea of connecting various musical worlds was common feature for various projects by Procol Harum.
   This first Procol Harum song had used in organ accompaniment stylization of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air from Orchestral Suite No 3 in D Major. The single had been sold in over 10 million copies. Although Procol Harum was the band often referencing to some elements of classical or baroque style, they were still much closer to blues and soul and in consequence strong R&B roots decided of their clear rock designation. This band has always their own way of creating music in progressive rock or symphonic rock style. When other bands were constructing big cyclic forms, Procol Harum were playing songs looking for deeper connections with past styles and genres.

Procol Harum – Procol’s Ninth (1975)

   One of band’s characteristics was its creative style. Every album was a kind of surprise for listeners, while in fans’ opinions every next record was expected to be something like one of their earlier achievements. Published in September 1975 Procol’s Ninth was intended as great musical victory. The band’s lineup was without changes since Grand Hotel. The core was authoring duo Gary Brooker (composer, piano, vocals) and Keith Reid (lyrics), but the sound of the band highly depended of four musicians: B.J.Wilson (drums), Chris Copping (organ), Alan Cartwright (bass) and Mick Grabham (guitar). And the sound of this album can be a model of art rock quality, discrete yet expressive rock sound and simplicity of song form.
   Opening song Pandora’s Box was old Brooker and Reid song from the band’s better days. This song released on single was last Procol Harum’s hit. In program of the record 8 original songs of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid and two covers (I Keep Forgetting by Leiber/Stoller and Eight Days a Week by Lennon/McCartney). The intention was clear. The band was trying to find formula for success in harder than ever before popular music market. Indeed the record promoted with concert tours was successful. Later it was somehow overlooked and forgotten, but it still is interesting. Very well written and sung songs sound clear and have the ability to focus attention. Four stars not only for progressive rock fans.

No comments:

Post a Comment