In Concert with The Danish National Concert Orchestra & Choir

Procol Harum

Eagle, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Procol Harum has been around since the 1960’s, and I have their first nine albums in my vinyl collection. I have to admit that I rarely listen to these albums, but when I do it is always enjoyable. I think that while I find their music sophisticated, well-crafted and melodic; at the same time, it does not have many real high points that keep my attention or consistently draw me back. They fall into the comfortable category owing to the sameness of their music. If you appreciate one of their releases, the chances are you will like them all.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Procol Harum are one of those groups that have split, become inactive and reformed a number of times in the last twenty years or so. Today, Gary Brooker is the only remaining original member, which is important, as he is the vocalist, pianist, and co-writer of all of their original material. Josh Phillips (organ), Geoff Whitehorn (guitar), Mark Brzezicki (drums), and Matt Pegg (bass) fill out today’s edition of the group.

In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra & Choir finds Procol Harum producing a live album in a setting that enhances and changes their music in a positive way. They have always produced music that leaned in a classical direction. It was similar to Yes but with tighter structures and contained little of the improvisation that made that group so unique. Here in this live setting, they are able to stretch a bit since the orchestra allows them the freedom to experiment. The songs end up being significantly longer and include a number of surprises that show off the music in new ways.

For the most part they stick to their well-known material. “Grand Hotel” sets the tone of the performance with the orchestra providing a background until taking over on the breaks between verses. “Homburg” is much more grandiose than the stripped-down original. “A White Shade Of Pale” and “Conquistador” both benefit from the added instruments and chorus.

“Into The Flood” takes the group in a different direction. It finds them in rock mode with the brass turned up. It is a nice counterpoint to the rest of the music and is a direction they should explore a bit more.

All in all, In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra & Choir allows Procol Harum to bring their music into the 21st century in a positive and unique way. It is an album that I plan listening to on a regular basis.

Rating: B+

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