Thursday, December 1, 2011

Procol Harum - Home 1970 - (Isle of Wight 1970)

The group's hardest-rocking classic album is, beyond some superb vocalizing by Gary Brooker, principally a showcase for Robin Trower's high-powered guitar and a rock-hard rhythm section, with B.J. Wilson only a little less animated than Ginger Baker on some of the music. Procol Harum had a split personality by this time, the band juxtaposing straight-ahead rock & roll numbers like "Still There'll Be More" and the Elvis Presley-influenced "Whisky Train" with darker, more dramatic pieces like "Nothing That I Didn't Know" and "Barnyard Story." Chris Copping doubles on organ, replacing Matthew Fisher, but the overall sound is that of a leaner Procol Harum, all except for the ambitious "Whaling Stories" -- even it was a compromise that nearly worked, showcasing Trower's larger-than-life guitar sound (coming off here like King Crimson's Robert Fripp in one of his heavier moments) within a somewhat pretentious art rock concept. It shows the strains within their lineup that the producers chose the lighter, more obviously accessible "Your Own Choice" -- on which Gary Brooker's piano is the lead instrument -- to end the album after "Whaling Stories"' pyrotechnic finish. [Home has appeared several times on CD, in a poor-sounding edition from A&M ages ago, on a rather better-sounding Mobile Fidelity edition in the late '80s, and at the opening of the new century in a remastered edition from Europe's Westside label that not only features significantly increased clarity on all of the instruments, but also detailed annotation and the presence of nine bonus tracks from the same sessions, mostly rock & roll warm-ups and early takes of the finished material.] AMG.

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