Gary Brooker wrote music and lyrics for all the songs on his second album and acted as his own producer, resulting in perhaps his most personal statement as an artist. Unlike No More Fear Of Flying, on which he sometimes just seemed to be the singer on his own record, here Brooker delivered his songs with feeling, enabling him to overcome the star power of his backup musicians, who included Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Phil Collins. This was partly because Brooker no longer felt the need to separate himself from The Procol Harum sound that was so much a part of his natural musical identity. Brooker's lyrics weren't as philosophical as longtime writing partner Keith Reid's, but they could be just as intriguingly oblique.
After 10 albums with Procol Harum, lead singer, composer, and keyboard player Gary Brooker launched his solo career with this album. Of course, there were Brooker's familiar characteristics – the steady piano work, the butterscotch soul voice. But he switched lyric partners for this set (except for the title track), trading longtime Procol wordsmith Keith Reid for Pete Sinfield, who had performed the same function for Procol contemporaries King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Brooker also tried a couple of tunes by Stiff Records pub-rocker Mickey Jupp (Jupp's versions are better) and Murray Head's "Say It Ain't So, Joe" (Roger Daltrey's version is better). The result was a varied set that succeeded in sounding like something other than Procol Harum's 11th album, although it did not demonstrate that Gary Brooker solo was going to be an improvement over the group.
This special set of studio recordings, the first ones to be issued since 2004, gathers up fifteen outtakes from eight different sessions, including two songs from as far back as March 1987 (before the actual formation of the Rhythm Kings). These previously overlooked and unheard gems have been newly mixed for this album by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor. The booklet contains all the musician credits. It's a very eclectic selection of songs, from Midnight Oil to Canned Heat to Dan Hicks, via classics by Willie Dixon, Slim Harpo, Jimmie Rodgers, Louis Jordan and Don Covay, and some originals - there's a solo song by Georgie Fame, "Skiing Blues", and "Jazz Walk", a Wyman/Fame co-write. Bill Wyman put together his ten-piece Rhythm Kings ensemble after leaving the Rolling Stones in 1992. The band has a core rhythm section, but features a revolving combination of all-star guest front men and women.
Gary Lucas – charmingly oddball pop songwriter, musical world traveler, utterly hellacious guitarist – is perhaps at his most hellaciously, charmingly cosmopolitan on this frankly amazing album, which finds him adapting popular Chinese songs that were originally recorded in the 1960s and which he heard and fell in love with during a sojourn in Taiwan in the mid-'70s. His girlfriend at the time had a cassette tape of such local superstars as Chow Hsuan and Bai Kwong, and it was, he says in his liner notes, "like almost no other music I had ever heard before." Twenty-five years later he put together this quirkily gorgeous tribute, which includes jaw-droppingly virtuosic fingerstyle guitar arrangements ("Mad World," "Wall") and song settings using guest vocalists. Among the best of the latter are the limpidly beautiful "Night in Shanghai" (again, note the guitar playing) and the country-flavored "I Wait for Your Return," which is simply a hoot. He's not playing this stuff for laughs, though; his genuine affection for the music comes through loud and clear, and even when he has fun with it he is obviously trying to do so in a way that brings its haunting loveliness to the fore. Very highly recommended.
Of the legendary bands Great Britain birthed during the 1960s, none sound remotely like Procol Harum. From their emergence with the single version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" months before the world heard the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, they were prog before prog, psychedelic before the world knew what it was, and a rocking R&B outfit…
Filmed on November 29, 2002 before a sold-out audience at Royal Albert Hall in London, "The Concert For George" is a beautifully filmed, joyous celebration of some of the most significant music of the 20th Century. Friends including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ravi & Anoushka Shankar, the cast of Monty Python and other artists who worked with George Harrison throughout his lifetime, present his music in a special concert to commemorate the first anniversary of his passing…
From the earthy to the unearthly, the unique music and words of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid shine on brightly in this eye-opening new collection of 32 Procol Harum recordings. Covering both studio and stage, it presents superb songs from every album in the band’s illustrious five-decade career, and includes ten performances that appear on CD for the very first time.