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Ghost Canyon

Title - Procol Harum - Expanded Editions [2015]
Artist - Procol Harum

For those not completely in the know, Procol Harum are an English rock band formed in 1967. They contributed to the development of progressive rock, and by extension, symphonic rock. Their best-known recording is their 1967 hit single "A Whiter Shade of Pale", which is considered a classic of popular music and is one of the few singles to have sold over 10 million copies.

Although noted for its baroque and classical influence, Procol Harum's music also embraces the blues, R&B and soul. In October 2012, the band was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and deservedly so.

Esoteric Recordings have announced the release of newly re-mastered and expanded editions of four classic Procol Harum albums, all of which are available now, and all of which are jam packed (quite literally) with en mass of stunning, sometimes unreleased music.

The first of those released was a newly re-mastered and expanded edition (now a 2CD set) of the classic 1968 self-titled debut album, Procol Harum. Released in January 1968, the record followed on from the huge international success of the bandfs debut single gA Whiter Shade of Paleh and the follow up single gHomburgh.

Funnily enough, and not a lot of people know this, but the immensely popular single "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was a track that doesn't actually appear on the original album; but was included in the US issue of the album!

The set includes bonus singles of the original monaural and alternate stereo versions of "A Whiter Shade of Pale". A 2009 remaster by Salvo Records, using the original mono masters, was released, with bonus tracks including the singles "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "Homburg", B-sides and alternate stereo takes, and those are all included here also.

Add to that, long searched for rare cuts such as a BBC "Easybeat" Session from June 1967, where the trio of songs they played were "Morning Dew," "A Whiter Shade of Pale," and "Mabel." Oh and from their BBC "Top Gear" session, in September 1967, we get the quartet of brilliance known as "Homburg," "Good Captain Clack," "She wandered Through the Garden Fence," and finally, quite literally (as it's the last song on the second disc), "Kaleidoscope."

Featuring Gary Brooker (voice, piano), Robin Trower (lead guitar), David Knights (bass guitar), B.J. Wilson (drums) and Matthew Fisher (Hammond organ), Procol Harum also includes the track "Salad Days (Are Here Again)," which has always been credited as being from the film, 'Separation.'

Indeed, the album was included on Classic Rock magazine's list "50 Albums That Built Prog Rock" and it was included in Rolling Stone's 2007 list of "The 40 Essential Albums of 1967."

Released in the UK in December 1968, Shine on Brightly followed on from the huge international success in 1967 of the bandfs debut single "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and the follow up single gHomburgh and built on the creative path begun on Procol Harumfs self-titled debut album.

Gary Brooker, and company were this time joined by Matthew Fisher (Hammond organ), which added a nice new musical depth to their sound, and took the music of the band to new heights. Especially proven here on the one song that absolutely dominates (no other word for it) this sophomore album, the 17-minute epic suite, "In Held eTwas in I." In fact, and something that has been brought to the fore in reviews time and time again (sorry, but I have to, as it bears repeating), but Procol Harum re-wrote the rule book of popular music with the material written and recorded for Shine On Brightly. No doubt about it.

Considered an early example of progressive rock, the title of the epic "In Held 'Twas in I" is an acrostic; taking the first word from the first movement as well as the first word from a verse later in the movement as well as the first word from each of the three successive movements as shown:

In "Glimpses of Nirvana"
Held "Glimpses of Nirvana" (sixth verse)
ŒTwas "ŒTwas Teatime at the Circus"
In "In the Autumn of My Madness"
I "Look to Your Soul"

Now remastered and released as an incredible 3CD box-set, Shine On Brightly was influential in the development of progressive rock by breaking pop and rock music standards with that 17-minute epic. Indeed, some have even gone as far as saying it actually marked the beginning of the lengthy progressive rock suites that would occur later in the 1970s.

Included here on this highly impressive, newly remastered deluxe edition of the classic 1968 album, are both Stereo and Mono versions of the original album, and 20 bonus tracks, with 9 of them previously unreleased! Some taken from BBC Radio sessions that same year, much like their debut (above), this 3CD set comes with a lavishly illustrated book featuring a new essay by Henry Scott Irvine, 3 postcards and even a poster!

Released in June 1969, A Salty Dog followed on from the superb albums mentioned above. One of the finest releases of the era gA Salty Dog saw the exquisite song writing of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid honed to perfection on highlights such as the albumfs title track, gThe Devil Came From Kansash, gWreck of the Hesperush, gThe Milk of Human Kindnessh and more.

Recorded at Abbey Road studios, the album captured the excellence of the five above mentioned musicians in the group, and with an ostensibly nautical theme, as indicated by its cover (a pastiche of the famous Player's Navy Cut cigarette pack), interspersed with straight rock, blues and pop items, the album showed a slight change of direction from its predecessors; being thematically less obscure.

As has been noted down the annals of history, the musical tensions between the group and Robin Trower were beginning to show in this album, and although his guitar sound remains integral to most of the tracks, "Crucifiction Lane" (featuring a rare Trower vocal), in retrospect, shows that Trower was already moving in a different direction from the rest of the band. Still, this album is much more musically varied than the two previous albums, with three Fisher vocals and one by Trower.

Here on this newly-remastered 2CD set, we get such rare gems as disc two opening with "Top Gear" BBC Radio One session - "Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)," "Wish Me Well," and "Long Gone Geek" - and even a recorded-live-in-the-USA track (April 1969), "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Another set of gems that make this new double album as delightful to have as it truly is, are "The Milk of Human Kindness" (from "Symonds on Sunday" BBC Radio One session), and a stunning "Juicy John Pink," from a "Top gear" BBC Radio One session.

Released in June 1970 and hailed by many fans as one of the finest albums released by the band, Home saw the exquisite song writing of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid reach new heights on pieces such as gThe Dead Manfs Dreamh, the epic gWhaling Storiesh, gAbout to Dieh and more. Produced by Chris Thomas, the album captured a new line-up of the band, featuring Gary Brooker (voice, piano), Chris Copping (bass guitar, organ), Robin Trower (lead guitar), and B.J. Wilson (drums).

The initial sessions for Home were performed in London at Trident Studios under the supervision of former organist Matthew Fisher who had also produced the band's previous album. Unhappy with the sound and performances, the band scrapped the Trident sessions and began again with producer Chris Thomas and engineer Jeff Jarratt at Abbey Road Studios.

The music is tremendous, and, as usual, the hidden star of the proceedings is drummer BJ Wilson, who is sadly no longer with us. The reason Procol Harum could get away with songs like "Milk of Human Kindness" (on Salty Dog) sounding like an outtake from Big Pink, is due in large part to BJ's uncanny ability to use his drum set like a lead instrument without ever getting in the way of the song. Really, one of the best drummers in rock, equaled only by Dave Mattacks and Levon Helm for only playing the exact thing the song needs, and no more.

This 2CD Deluxe Edition of Home has been expanded to include 11 bonus tracks (3 previously unreleased) over the two CDs, including rare tracks, alternate session takes and 2 previously unreleased BBC Radio session tracks from May 1970. This expanded deluxe edition of Home also includes a lavishly illustrated booklet that fully restores the original.

Lastly, and talking about the original album cover, once the album was completed, it was decided that the cover would be a parody of the British board game Snakes and Ladders featuring members of the band.

'Procol Harum - Remastered Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link

'Shine On Brightly - Remastered 3CD Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link

'A Salty Dog - Remastered Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link

'Home - Remastered Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link