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Procol Harum

The Prodigal Stranger

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new reissue of a Procol Harum album from 1991. It includes three bonus tracks (two demos and a live recording from 2003). While this album has a lot of that 80s/90s polished sound, it also has a lot of Procol Harum's trademarks. Gary Brooker's voice is responsible for a lot of that, but it goes deeper. As a big fan of Robin Trower, I'm glad to see him onboard here. This really does play like a classic Procol Harum album, and the bonus tracks are some great icing on that cake.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Truth Won't Fade Away
A mainstream rocker, this has a lot of energy and drive to it. It is sort of a folk based cut, but done in an electrified approach.
Holding On
There is almost a world music element to the opening section of this number. It works out from there to a rather rocking movement, but it drops back to mellower stuff for the bulk of the tune. This has a lot of classic Procol Harum sound in the mix, but for some reason also makes me think of Traffic to a large degree.
Man With A Mission
I really dig the cool exploratory introduction here. It has retro textures along with a bit of a funky vibe at times. The cut works out to a number that's quite jazzy and potent. I love Trower's guitar work on this cut.
(You Can't) Turn Back The Page
Keyboards lead this one out of the gate. The vocals join, and it feels like classic Procol Harum. I love the balance between the mellower and more rocking movements. There are some killer acoustic guitar fills on this, too.
One More Time
Percussion begins this cut, and it shifts from there to a soulful kind of groove that's so cool. Trower puts in some killer guitar soloing on this tune. It's more of a blues rocker than it is anything else.
A Dream In Ev'ry Home
I dig this number quite a bit. It definitely makes me think a lot of Traffic, and even Steve Winwood solo. It is a mid-tempo and quite evocative piece of music.
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
A cool rocker, this has some definite retro stylings in place. The organ lends a lot of that, but there is more to it than that. Procol Harum merged with Traffic is again a valid reference point.
The King Of Hearts
Now, this really sounds like vintage Procol Harum. It's a slower, more contemplative song. I love the evocative vocal arrangement. The guitar fills are classic, too. Everything about this song wins. It's possibly my favorite tune here.
All Our Dreams Are Sold
A bluesy kind of rocker, there is a lot of soul built into this. Trower gets to lay down some classy guitar soloing. The tune is classy one.
Perpetual Motion
Starting with organ, this cut is one that feels like classic Procol Harum. It's folk prog at its best all in a rather slow song structure.
Learn To Fly
Another with a lot of classic Procol Harum sound in it, this is of the harder rocking variety. I dig the piano work on this. The whole keyboard arrangement is classic really. The cut is one of the highlights of the set.
The Pursuit Of Happiness
Keyboards start this. Brooker's voice brings the classic Procol Harum sound. There is some Traffic and Steve Winwood styled texture here, too, though. It's a nice way to close the album proper.
Bonus Tracks
            
Into the Flood (demo)

I really dig this demo cut. It has a great rocking vibe and works really well. As polished as this is, you'd be hard pressed to peg it as a demo, really.

A Real Attitude (demo)
While this does sound a bit more like a demo, it's not to the point of taking away from the song. It's a bouncing kind of rocking number that again reminds me of Winwood a bit.
Holding On (live SWR Radio, Germany 2003)
This live take is a solid recording of a great performance. This has such a classic Procol Harum sound to it. It's great addition to the set.
 
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