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Procol Harum

Something Magic: Remastered & Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

This new edition of Procol Harum's Something Magic album is all class. You get the main album (which is actually one of their most purely progressive rock releases and is stellar) along with some bonus tracks on the first CD. The second disc is a  great live show. There is an informative booklet and a lyric sheet in the package, too. It's all encased in a great digipack, making for quite an exceptional release.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
CD One
             
Something Magic

A dramatic keyboard dominated symphonic texture is at the heart of the processional that opens this. Piano is at the heart of the number as it drops down for the vocals. This is a real powerhouse number with some killer shifts and changes along the road.

Skating On Thin Ice
This has a playful classical music basis at its core. That's blended with a folk prog approach to create something really special.
Wizard Man
More of a pure rock vibe is on hand for this cut. It has some gospel music and soul in the arrangement, too. Yet, there are pop prog elements, too. I dig the catchy hooks. The whole song makes me think of Joe Walsh just a little for some reason.
The Mark Of The Claw
The keyboard jamming on this thing is positively on fire. The tune is a killer progressive rock jam that's so cool. This is dramatic, dynamic and up there with the finest tunes ever from the band.
Strangers In Space
I love the balladic kind of spacey groove on this number. There is a cool, almost jazzy vibe to it in some ways. This is a mellower cut, but it's definitely not lackluster or lacking in drama. This is a highlight.
The Worm & The Tree, Pt. 1: Introduction / Menace / Occupation
There is a very classical movement that serves as the opening here. Spoken lyrics come in over the top.  Another musical section that gets rather powerful, but is still completely classical in approach takes over from there. There is another spoken section beyond that. Then the piece works out into more of the kind of folk prog that you expect from this band. It grows outward nicely as they continue.
The Worm & The Tree, Pt. 2: Enervation / Expectancy / Battle
I'm definitely reminded of the drama and sound of some of Rick Wakeman's 1970s work as this piece drives outward. It's a killer prog rock jam that's so cool. The cut works through a number of movements, some of the vocal variety (mostly spoken) and some instrumental. There is still plenty of progressive rock built into it.
The Worm & The Tree, Pt. 3: Regeneration / Epilogue
This comes in with just piano, and builds on that concept with both classical and rock music at its core. Spoken vocals come over the top of that backdrop. This thing gets very powerful before it's over and done.
Bonus Tracks
                 
Backgammon

There is a cool rocking groove built into this thing. It's a powerhouse prog tune that works really well.

You'd Better Wait (Live Studio Recording)
The folk prog concept of this is classic Procol Harum. It's a strong tune that works really well.
This Old Dog (Live Studio Recording)
There is a bit of a hoedown vibe as this cut comes out of the gate. It really does have a real country music edge to it. This is a fun number with a lot of energy and a cool groove.
CD Two
                        
Something Magic

I love the cool symphonic processional on this live recording of the title track. They put in a cool performance of the tune.

Conquistador
This is not only one of the band's best known songs, but also one of my favorites of theirs. They put in a killer live performance here. It really gets intense and powerful. The guitar soloing is on fire.
Nothing But The Truth
A bouncing, driving Procol Harum rocker, this tune really works so well. The performance seems really inspired.
Strangers In Space
Coming in even more spacey than on the studio album, they put in a purely magical performance of this number. This is such a powerhouse piece. It is really one of the highlights of this live performance.
Grand Hotel
Another Procol classic, this number gets a strong live performance, too. This gets so potent in some of the later portions. It feels particularly passionate here.
Pandora's Box
Here we get another killer live performance of a classic PH tune.
Skating On Thin Ice
A bouncy, swirling kind of number, this is a classy tune that gets a good live performance.
The Mark Of The Claw
This hard rocker really works so well in the live setting. There is some killer guitar soloing, and the piece has a great range of moods and intensities.
Wizard Man
This is a solid tune. It's not really a standout, but it's well-worth its inclusion here in the set.
This Old Dog
The band gets introduced before this number gets underway. There is a lot of country music built into this.
A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Another of the pure classics from the band, they put in a great live performance here, really capturing the magic of it.
 
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