(U.K 1967 - 1977, 1991 - Present)
Brooker, Copping and Wilson, along with guitarist Robin Trower, were originally members of The Paramounts, a Southend, England, -based outfit which cut a series of flop singles for Parlophone between 1963-65, one of which was their version of Coasters' R&B classic Poison Ivy.
However, Procol Harum was conceived when Gary Brooker struck out on his own and sought out lyricist Keith Reid to add words to the new, more adventurous material he was writing. Advertising in the British music press, they recruited first line-up which, aside of Brooker, comprised Bobby Harrison (drums), Ray Rowyer (guitar), Matthew Fisher (organ) and David Knights (bass).
Thus constituted, Procol Harum released the mesmeric Brooker-Reid composed Whiter Shade Of Pale as their debut in May 1967. The single was astonishingly successful, racing in a matter of weeks to the No. 1 slot in the U.K. singles charts and breaking all kinds of records for copies sold per day. It made No. 5 in U.S.
But even as the music industry appraised itself of this dizz-busting new phenomenon, dissent within the group was leading to crisis. Ray Rowyer and Bobby Harrison, the latter reputedly aggrieved because he had been passed over in favour of a session drummer during recording of the single, quit line-up, and for a time there were stories that Procol had split. The fact was they were totally unprepared for success so immense, so soon.
However, the band re-grouped bringing in ex Paramounts Trower and Wilson as replacements, and recorded first album later in 1967 although touring infrequently. They also released a follow-up single, Homburg, which although by and large a retread of Whiter Shade Of Pale, climbed into U.K. Top 10. Two excellent albums, Shine On Brightly (1968) and A Salty Dog (1969) followed, but unhappily the group had come to be regarded as a one-hit wonder. Against this background, these albums - which many still consider as their most substantial achievements — received scant attention in U.K.
America, on the other hand, took to them with fewer preconceptions, and their 1969 Stateside tour attracted considerable acclaim. Despite this, the group was again entering a period of disenchantment and disarray. In mid-1969, after producing A Salty Dog Matthew Fisher quit the band (he subsequently worked as solo artist and producer). David Knights followed soon after. Chris Copping, another ex Paramount, took both their places and, as a quartet, the group made the patchy Home (1970) and indifferent Broken Barricades (1971).
After this last, Robin Trower, whose frustration was becoming increasingly evident with each recording, left to form Jude and later his own band (Robin Trower).
Again the group resorted to ads in the music press, auditions providing newcomers Dave Ball, ex Big Bertha, on guitar, and Alan Cartwright, formerly with Brian "Blinky" Davison's Every Which Way, on bass. In November 1971, accepting an offer set up by a Canadian rock writer/admirer, the band went to Canada to perform with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The gig was beset with hassles and almost never happened, but the resulting live album was a tour de force that took Procol Harum completely by surprise. In fact it received such critical acclaim and audience attention in the North American market that the band postponed sessions on a planned new studio album and went out on a massively successful U.S. tour.
By the time they got round tc completing the sessions - for Grand Hotel (1973) - Dave Ball had left the group and Mick Grabham, formerly with Cochise had come in on lead guitar. Line up then remained stable until Cartwright left in 1976. Copping switched to bass and Pete Solley joined on organ.
Though by no means unpopular the group hasn't yet been able to equal its U.S. status on home territory - despite a re-release Whiter Shade Of Pale making the U.K. Top 10 in 1972, and the new cut Pandora's Box similarly giving them home singles success in autumn 1975. This last came from Procol's Ninth, produced by Leiber & Stoller.
In 1977 they are still noted for the qualities which brought then to prominence - Keith Reid's scholarly lyrics and Gary Brooker's superb piano work - yet remain one of the most un classifiable of groups. [extract from The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock, 1977. p188)
Portfolio covers the history of Procol Harum during the 60's and 70's although there are some key tracks missing from this 'best of' compilation, which to say the least are surprising.
The absence of their No.1 hit "Whiter Shade Of Pale" is a major flaw in this album and one can only wonder what Chrysalis was thinking when they did this. Perhaps they thought it was sufficient enough to provide the same in the design of the album cover !
Likewise, another obvious omission is the popular track "Shine On Brightly" which certainly should be part of Procol Harums 'Portfolio'. If they were struggling with room on the album, surely lesser known tracks like "Wizard Man" or "Nothing But The Truth" could have been omitted instead.
So, to fix this problem, I have chosen to add these tracks as Bonus Tracks in this post, along with a personal favourite of mine "Whiskey Train", which show cases Trower's unique guitar work and for all sign and purposes was an indication that Trower was starting to develop a musical style that was beyond the band.
This post contains a rip made from CD at 320kps and includes full album artwork. Also included is an extensive chart of the chronology of the Procol Harum band members. Three bonus tracks have also been included, as previously discussed, all ripped at 320kps. My favourite tracks are Simple Sister and Whiskey Train, although recognition must also be given to the first two 'classic' tracks which were recorded live with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (an album which I will post in the future).
01 - Conquistador (live)
02 - A Salty Dog (live)
03 - A Souvenir Of London
04 - Bringing Home The Bacon
05 - Grand Hotel
06 - Whaling Stories
07 - Power Failure
08 - Pandora's Box
09 - Nothing But The Truth
10 - As strong As Sampson
11 - Wizard Man
12 - Something Magic
13 - Simple Sister
14 - Broken Barriers
15 - Song For A Dreamer
16 - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
17 - Shine On Brightly
18 - Whiskey Train
Gary Brooker (piano, vocals)
B. J. Wilson (drums)
Mick Grabham (guitar )
Chris Copping (bass)
Pete Solley (organ)
Keith Reid (lyrics)
Procol Harum Link (156Mb) New Link 05/10/2013