Lost in the Looking-Glass

Review Wilfried van Damme [Netherlands]

The fan-based project Lost in the Looking-Glass is yet another treat for Procoholics, who are being served so well these days. This varied double CD bears testimony not only to the brilliance of Procol composers, but to the musical proficiency, creativity and humour of so many of their admirers. Realising well that there is hardly any point in trying to imitate the originals, Palers from various parts of the world have opted here, on the whole, for inventive re-interpretations of pieces created by their songwriting heroes. The CD in fact leads from one surprise to the next, almost all of them thoroughly enjoyable.

It is a delight to hear how well the original songs stand up to various treatments, many of them folky, bluesy or jazzy, although classical and rap approaches are found here as well, in addition to a few more conventional ‘rockestrations’. The fresh arrangements are a pleasure in themselves, experimenting with rhythm, instrumentation and vocalisation. Indeed, one of the nice revelations of this CD (although already suggested by some of The Palers’ Band’s efforts) consists in showing how well Brooker’s melodies lend themselves to interpretation by female voices. Yet these variant renderings also manage to re-open fans’ ears and minds to the intricate beauty of Procol melodies and harmonies that one might have grown somewhat too accustomed to in their original versions.

Seriousness in musicianship and approach prevail, but in true Harum fashion there is sheer fun as well. One or two renditions are hilarious in their respectful disrespect, and many more contain musical and lyrical puns. Instrumental themes worm their way from one song into another, and liberties are tastefully taken with the original words. Indeed, for all the Palers’ rightful devotion to the artistic achievements of Brooker, Fisher, Trower and Reid, in Procoldom, refreshingly, nothing is sacred – just listen to this CD’s version of A Whiter Shade of Pale!

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