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Published: 2009/07/01
by Mark Burnell

Procol Harum: In Concert With The Danish National Orchestra and Choir

Eagle Rock
Most casual rock and roll fans know Procol Harum for that song, but the bands full pomp-rock repertoire is on display here in this remastered reissue of a lavish outdoor concert from 2006. The show is as ridiculously over-the-top as one might expect, full of bombast and drama. The band (essentially singer/keyboardist Gary Brooker and a bunch of other blokes even a die hard fan would be hard pressed to name) actually fare better in this setting than you might expect. Rock bands playing with orchestras invariably come with a degree of pretension that almost guarantees failure (Emerson Lake and Palmer, Im looking at you), but to their credit, Procol Harum mostly succeed in really making the orchestra feel like part of the band. It certainly helps that many of these songs started out in the studio as fully orchestrated numbers, but everyone onstage, and there are a lot of people up there, gels very nicely, especially on the closing song ‘Conquistador,’ which is as good as this sort of collaborative venture gets.
There are six rarely seen bonus tracks from Danish TV in 1974 with no orchestra and a completely different band except for Brooker. These songs showcase a stripped down version of the same sound. Although there are less people, the ensemble still has the same bombast but with more of a guitar emphasis, especially on the outstanding freakout jam, "The Devil Came From Kansas."
If youre a guitar/bass/drums purist, stay away from this release. However, if you think that rock was never better than when Deep Purple and Yes hit the hallowed concert halls of Europe with a full string section in tow, this is definitely a must have for your collection.

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