Procol Harum

Procol Harum – Still There’ll Be More: An Anthology 1967-2017 (Esoteric Recordings)

Still There’ll Be More is an anthology comprehensively covering the career of British band Procol Harum from their beginnings in 1967 through to the present. The release includes five audio CDs containing the singles, along with live recordings from the band, all remastered.

There are also three DVDs which feature appearances, some of which are rare, on Top of the Pops and Beat Club, and a 68 page book with an essay, and commentary. Finally, the anthology includes a reproduction concert poster taken from 1976. This is a pretty impressive collection, and any fan of the group would find that they have plenty of material to go on.

But what of those who do not know the band? Everyone, or almost everyone, would be familiar with the band’s debut single, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, which reached the number one spot in the UK charts back in 1967. Fewer people may remember or know of the follow up single, ‘Homburg’, but sadly for the group, Procul Harum did not see as much chart success following these releases. These two singles drew heavily from Baroque-style classical music, played out on either organ or piano, to bring the sound that most people will know, and is common throughout the band’s history. This became less apparent in later years, where the sound is more, for want of a better comparison, akin to Van Morrison. The earlier material contained lyrics that seemed to tell the tale of a random dream, rather than a particular story, and delivered with Gary Brooker’s distinctive voice.

The moods shift and change throughout, and there is something of the Gothic about some of the tracks included, a sombre darkness that melodically weaves its way through the mind, such as ‘A Salty Dog’. At other times, there is a gentleness that builds up to something more powerful, and is almost operatic in its delivery (‘Understandably Blue’.) 

It is hard to understand why this band never received more airplay. Somewhat overlooked and overshadowed by other Sixties bands, Procul Harum’s music stands up to the test of time well, but there is the feeling that the thing that made them different when they first debuted, the classical riffs, has given way to a more standardised style that does not stand out from their contemporaries. The highlights are definitely ‘Whiter Shade…’ and especially ‘Homburg’, which is never given the credit it deserved.

The anthology is pretty thorough, and fans will no doubt enjoy the collection. If, however, you want to explore Procol Harum’s music, then you may find this collection somewhat daunting at first. given the material on offer, and the different formats, but it is well worth persevering through. It is like the musical equivalent of shunning the more well-known restaurant chains, and finding a dark, brooding and atmospheric place that serves meals that are a bit different, but satisfying.

https://youtu.be/xlZT8vBC7dg

Still There’ll Be More is out now on Cherry Red.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.