Sunday, April 15, 2007

Books on Procol Harum

Procol Harum: Beyond The Pale
by Claes Johansen

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: SAF Publishing, Ltd. (March 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0946719284
ISBN-13: 978-0946719280
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches

From Booklist
Eight years after their reunion and last media splash, Procol Harum are limned in a by-the-numbers group bio. Seminal if not well-remembered, the "art-rock" band's stylings after its one big hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," meandered in focus. For a while, it was at rock's cutting edge; John Lennon, among others, was taken with the band. But Procol Harum never repeated its one commercial success, despite the critical acclaim such albums as A Salty Dog won them. When the group re-formed in 1991, it was hailed as one of the most influential acts of the 1960s' heyday of progressive rock. Band members Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, and Robin Trower have been exalted for their musicianship, and Trower, at least, has had a viable solo career. Most of the information Johansen relays isn't news, but he gathers it comprehensively, so that one could easily find worse books about those crazy, psychedelic days, when rock music was going to set everybody free in every sense of the word. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Kirkus Reviews
A Danish fan's notes on the baroque British pop band that turned a talent for quoting Bach into a worldwide hit record.Procol Harum--whose name does not come from some pseudo-Latin sorcerer's tag, as some desperate critics have said, but was instead borrowed from a pet cat--made it big early in its career, charting a weeks-long number-one record in 1967 with A Whiter Shade of Pale. (In its first incarnation, as a blue-eyed-soul quartet called the Paramounts, the band toured with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones--but their recorded covers of such tunes as Poison Ivy and Turn on Your Love Light have not stood up well to the passing of time.) Led by classically trained keyboard players Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher, and backed by guitar wizard Robin Trower and a tight rhythm section, the band turned in several albums that are regarded as art-rock classics, including Shine On Brightly and A Salty Dog. It eventually fell apart under the strain of vaulting egos and mind-altering substances--only to reunite, of course, in the 1990s to capture its share of the nostalgia market. Indisputably fine and influential though Procol Harum was in its day, the band made its share of dogs; as Johansen writes, toward the end of its life in the late 1970s the band did probably the worst thing anyone could have done . . . they released a weedy progressive rock album. Johansen's book does a serviceable job of charting the band from glorious rise to inglorious fall, but it suffers from the author's reliance on contemporary press clippings and generally unrevealing interviews with surviving members of the original lineup and from his failure to connect the Procol Harum story to larger themes in pop-culture history.Obsessive Procol Harum collectors--and there are bound to be one or two of them out there--will find this an essential acquisition. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus

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