Album Review: Procul Harum, "Prodigal Stranger"


Best remembered for the classic Whiter Shade Of Pale, PROCUL HARUM return with their first album since the break up in 1977. From ten years previous until they split, they'd made as many albums, each noted for its idiosyncratic identity, with added melody lines, deep pumped organ sounds, and eccentric poetic lyrics. On their return, the Brooker-Reid writing partnership heads for safer ground, but with original ex-members Matthew Fisher and Robin Trower returning on organ and guitar, the music is guaranteed some quality.

Keith Reid now writes lyrics of the more ordinary order and the album does look like it's pitched at the AOR nostalgic market. Gary Brooker's voice is still distinctive and original and does in some places reach some uplifting moments. Perpetual Motion, Holding On, and The Truth Won't Fade Away are high on melodic quality and capture some of the 'harum' of old, but there are too many fillers, particularly in the latter stages.

There's nothing nasty, embarrassing, or bad about Prodigal Stranger. It just for most parts sits too easy in the distance. Shame because the band still carry a lot of talent and always leave you feeling they could go a bit further.

Unlikely to win many new friends but a solid performance. A few great moments but not enough.
Grade B -


Mike Harris
Riff Raff
March 1992
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