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Procol Harum - Procol Harum
Label: Westside Records
Release: 1967

She Wandered Through The Garden Fence
Something Following Me
Cerdes (Outside the Gates Of)
A Christmas Camel
Salad Days (Are Here Again)
Good Captain Clack
Repent Walpurgis


A Whiter Shade of Pale
Lime Street Blues
Salad Days (Are Here Again) (Alt.)
Mabel (Undubbed)
Cerdes (Alt.)
Something Following Me (Alt.)
Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) (Alt.)
Quite Rightly So (Undubbed)
Shine on Brightly (Alt.)
Procol Harum - Procol Harum
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Exceptional debut from Southend's own Procol Harum. Riding on the waves of the success of "Whiter Shade of Pale" - or rathernot, seeing as this album featured neither "Whiter Shade of Pale" or the follow-up single "Homburg", and was actually a bitof a flop. But still, it exists, and it proves that there's a bit more to this band than modernized Bach. A wide range ofstuff is covered on this number - cold blues, hard rock, humourous throwaway, overblown symphonics, and good ol' standard '60s.

The band pretty much succeed in every department - they could hardly fail, with the vocal/piano talents of Gary Brooker, theorgan of Matthew Fisher, the guitar of Robin Trower, and David Knights and B.J Wilson's tight rhythm section - and don't goforgettin Keith Reid, one of the better lyricists of the era. Anyway, to the music - we open with a straight Procol standardin "Conquistador" - big heavy riffs all-around, and great vocal performances - Brooker generally can't not do catchy vocallines. Another well-known Procol song is here - the pure '60s sound of "Salad Days". Again, it can't help being catchy - classic Hammond organ playing.

Let's get to them throwaways. "She Wandered Through The Garden Fence", "Mabel" and "Good Captain Clack" - all three have their own charms. "Garden Fence" is a more homely piece, while "Mabel" sounds and looks like it was phoned in from the '30s."Good Captain Clack" is arguably the best - it has such a wonderful English charm, a lot like The Kinks in a way. Straightdown the road to the other side now - if you want big, overblown symphony on here, then your best bet is the excellent "Kaleidoscope" - that Hammond sound and playing probably influenced a hell of a lot of the major prog rock bands to come. And there's a stunning instrumental closeout in "Repent Walpurgis" - quite a lot of Bach influence there. In fact, a wholepart is ripped from "Prelude No. 1 in C Major" - not that it matters.

But you can quickly see the band's big strength - it lies in a great heap of sophisticated Rhythm n' Blues. This is represented with the three best works on here - the excellent "Something Following Me", with an outstanding set of lyricsfrom Keith Reid, and another good delivery. There's also a great grandiose effect on "A Christmas Camel", but the best workon the whole album has to be "Cerdes" - god, listen to that opening bass groove. And just, the general killer groove thatthis song has - the vocal delivery, the organ, the bass, drums, guitar...the lot. One of the best numbers in the whole ofthe Procol catalogue.

Of course, I shouldn't not mention the bonus tracks that you get when you purchase the all-new remastered edition of this album. Actually, most aren't worth mentioning - you mainly get outtakes from sessions for both this album, and "Shine on Brightly" the follow up. But you do, of course, get "Whiter Shade of Pale" - a song which you've probably already heard infull many a time, so I won't talk about it, "Homburg", the great, R n' B tinged follow-up single, and "Lime Street Blues" - a great piece of rock n' roll, played as cool as you like. Fun as hell.

This album gets a big 9 for me - an outstanding debut, with no weak moments whatsoever. Major 9 for me, which is the wayit should be. There's a great charm with this band, which is probably summed up best with the picture on the inside coverof Gary Brooker smoking a pipe. This band is extremely classy - it runs all through their music, and gives it a unique charm. Cracking band, with a cracking debut

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