What does it sound like?:
Back in the early seventies, a collaboration between a rock band and an orchestra was still a pretty groundbreaking thing to do. This effort, recorded in November 1971 with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, is one of the best representations of that genre. The original release featured just five pieces, about half the record being taken up by the lengthy In Held ‘Twas In I, which really gave both band and orchestra room to stretch their legs. This is the band’s most epic and ambitious track – I’ve still no idea what it’s all about, and at almost twenty minutes long it’s hard work at times, but it still manages to hold your attention. However, I think the shorter pieces actually work better overall – there are excellent interpretations of their more theatrical compositions such as Conquistador and A Salty Dog, where the classical and rock elements really gel. The album is supplemented by five extra tracks, one being the B side of the Conquistador single, Luskus Delph, while the others are rehearsals for the concert itself, two of which are previously unreleased. However, for me the original album still stands alone without these extras – some of it is a bit of its time, but I really enjoyed hearing it again after all these years.
What does it all *mean*?
It’s hard to imagine now how unusual it was to have an album showcasing a rock band working with an orchestra and a choir, and this is one of the best examples. An essential part of the Procol Harum discography, and in many ways perhaps their definitive musical statement.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…