"1991's "The Prodigal Stranger" marked the most-welcome return of Procol Harum, 14 years after their last album, 1977's "Something Magic." Back in the band are veteran members Gary Brooker on piano & vocals, Matthew Fisher on organ, Robin Trower on guitar, & lyricist Keith Reid. "The Prodigal Stranger" is a magnificent album, the band sounding so re-vitalized on these masterful, melodic songs. Not a bad tune among them. High points include the passionate "The Truth Won't Fade Away," the great rockers "Man With A Mission," "One More Time," "All Are Dreams Are Sold" & "Learn To Fly," the wonderfully catchy "Hand That Rocks The Cradle," and the beautiful "A Dream In Every Home," "King Of Hearts" (with a clever nod to "Whiter Shade Of Pale" in it's lyrics), and the finale, "The Pursuit Of Happiness." Gary Brooker's voice is still as strong as ever, as are the band's solid musicianship & songwriting. "The Prodigal Stranger" is one of Procol Harum's greatest albums, and a true welcome return of one of rock's greatest bands."
Dated Production Mars Return of Legendary Group
Todd and In Charge | Miami, FL | 04/04/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"After limping away in 1977, a victim of changing musical tastes (the emergence of punk rock) and personnel shuffles, the band (minus the deceased drummer) triumphantly returned in 1991 with an all-new album of originals. As a major fan of the band, I was especially looking forward to Robin Trower's return to the fold.
Unfortunately, the producer attempted to recast PH in the mold of Stevie Windwood's "Roll With It" hit, or Eric Clapton's "After Midnight" remake for Miller, putting a shiny 80's sheen, synthesizers, synthetic drums, "upbeat" songwriting, and massive amounts of back up singers in an effort to update their sound.
It didn't work. Not that there aren't some gems in here, such as "Holding On," and "You Can't Turn Back the Page," but the overall production and otherwise dreary and uninspired songwriting makes you think you are listening to any AOR band of the mid-to-late 80's. No Whaling Songs, no Strong as Sampson here, just affirmational songs about prevailing and succeeding despite adversity, dressed in a sound that was already dated by its 1991 release. A major disappointment."
You Can't Turn Back the Page
Todd and In Charge | 09/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, you cannot. But, you can listen and think about the music and lyrics. The aforementioned song is the most haunting since 'Too Much Between Us'. Every track tells a story: some positive and upbeat, others painful and reflective. Life is like that. The songs are a remembrance, a graceful reminder of the thirty-three years since 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' sent us looking for ruined cathedrals and faded copies of 'The Canterbury Tales' just to see if Chaucer really wrote 'The Miller's Tale'. That is what makes this album a must for every Procol Harum enthusiast. When I first discovered it in 1991, it received very limited airplay; then, it was gone. Its obscurity intrigued me: I had to have it, and was not disappointed. There is not a bad track on the CD. This is perfect for long freeway commutes. My personal favorites are 'Perpetual Motion' ,'The Truth Won't Fade Away', and 'Holding On'. Gary Brooker fans will be amazed. All the band members are in fine form. Hip, Hip Hooray for the Harum!"
Where's Procol Harum?
Lawrence A. Strid | Mission Viejo, CA | 06/10/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I had high hopes for this "reunion" album, what with core members Brooker/Trower/Reid/Fischer on board. What made PC one of the best and most unique bands of the late 60s and early 70s was Brooker's voice and elegant piano, soulful organ work by Chris Copping or Matthew Fischer, Reid's quirky and often enigmatic or humorous lyrics, a unique talent for blending rock with classical music, and restrained but tasteful guitar work from Trower and his successors in interest after he left the band to go solo. Other than Brooker's voice, all of those components are missing here. The songs suffer from a similarity in sound/tempo/theme such that you are basically listeining to one long song throughout the 12 cuts. I don't know why Trower or Fischer even came on board, as they are denied soloing and their contributions are buried in a wall of sound type of production that is rife with synthesizers and what sounds like drum machines and which is better suited for disco or techno outings. The songs are mostly "power pop" ballads that should have been relegated to the Steve Perry chapter of Journey. Stick with Broken Barricades, Grand Hotel or the band's other classic outings, and avoid this sad chapter in their career. I blame the producer, not the band, as he shares song credits on many of the tunes on this enterprise."
Expect professional reviewers to be wrong.
Lawrence A. Strid | 03/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Procol did not go downhill after A Whiter Shade Of Pale. They've always had a great message and fantastic music. This, by 4 original members is very wise, mature, and intelligent. I especially like the family values expressed on for example "Hand That Rocks The Cradle, The", but please be advised, you need to be sensitive and intelligent to really appreciate this 'thinking' music. A must for anyone trying to make sense of who we were in the 1960's, and who we will have become in the year 2000."