Thursday, May 4, 2017

PROCOL HARUM: Novum (2017)

 Is there anyone who was waiting for Procol Harum to release their  17th studio album, after a 50-year-old career, to form an opinion? I hope not!
  I must admit that this new release caught me by surprise, as I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I know that the band is active, performing a few live gigs every year, but that was all. So, I was really happy and excited when I learned about this album of theirs.
  Before anything else, I should mention that I consider myself as a “fan” of Procol Harum. I grew up with their music, I have all their albums in my collection and never got bored of them. They had many ups and downs of course, like any other band, but Gary Brooker’s warm and unique voice was always there to befriend me in my melancholic and dark times.

  Let’s take a look at Novum now:

  The production of the album is excellent (as expected), the musicians that are participating are very experienced, and the overall outcome is satisfying to my ears. (But as I wrote above, I’m not the average listener of PH).
  So, further than Gary Brooker, here we have some very good musicians, such as: Matt Pegg (Jethro Tull / Fairport Convention) on bass, Geoff Dunn (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Van Morrison, Jimmy Page) on drums, Geoff Whitehorn ( Kevin Ayers, Bad Company, Roger Waters, Paul Rodgers, Roger Daltrey and others) on guitar and Joss Phillips (The Who, Diamond Head, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend and others) on keyboards.
   Procol Harum’s “trade marks” always have been Gary Brooker’s voice, the extended use of organ, and the influences from the great classical composers, such as Bach and Handel for example. Unfortunately the organ and the classical influences have been reduced a lot, having the piano as the leading and dominant instrument, accompanied by some really good guitar passages and riffs. As for Gary Brooker’s voice, it is definitely not what it used to be, but it is not bad at all, considering that he is almost 72 years old.
  The album includes 11 tracks, and has a total running time of almost 55 minutes. There are some songs in a more “Rock” style, such as I told on you, the album’s opening song, or Image of the Beast for example. But there are some others, where you can hear something from the magic of the good old Procol Harum, such as Sunday morning or The only one.
  In my opinion, you should listen to the album a few times before you form up an opinion. Let yourself “sunk” in the melancholy and the beauty of some of its songs, and then decide.
  Concluding this, I want to say that Novum in not a bad album, but not a masterpiece as well. It is a well made album, including some fine and nostalgic moments. 
  Definitely recommended for the fans of Procol Harum, but not only them. Every fan of Rock or Progressive Rock music will find some songs that he/she will like.
          I will try to be objective here, and give 3.5 stars
 By clicking on the following YT link you will listen to The only one, one of the album's finest moments in my opinion.