From Shadow to Shadow
ReviewCharlie Allison [UK]
The new Palers' CD is just marvellous – a worthy follow-up to Lost in the Looking Glass. Again there has been considerable international collaboration – some tracks have evidently been part-recorded then sent across oceans for the next stage in production.
Great lateral creativity and ingenuity is heard in some numbers, while others remain faithful to the originals. There is a huge variety of musical genres from bluegrass through blues, sassy lounge singing to raw rock. The musicianship is high throughout and outstanding on many tracks – particular mention must go to Gary Shepard for several wonderful creations – two backing Procol's No 1 fan Al 'One-Eye' (but certainly not 'one-note'!) Edelist; also most of the In Held 'Twas In I suite, including a strangely effective Finnish vocal on Autumn of my Madness. However the addition of the Beanstalk monologue to Grand Finale is a big boo-boo in my opinion. Could I have a disc with this surgically removed, please.
Highlights are many and there are some real stellar moments. I absolutely adored Ethan Reilly's Wreck of the Hesperus, which, after a faithful rendition of the brilliant score, springs a cute computer-game surprise at the close. Douglas Adams would have loved this! The Latino Conquistador with Libby Harding's female voice is just right too in its tempo and instrumentation. There's also a strong Hispanic feel to Peter Skorpik's Emperor's New Clothes – his setting for solo guitar shows how strong this song is even without words. There is even an improved version of The Worm and the Tree by Canadian George Bertok.
Andreas Havlik's Walpurgis and Luiz de Boni's Magdalene remain formal and dignified. Les Fradkin's Fellow Travellers is slightly less-so in a Pet Shop Boys treatment also heard in Sev Lewkowicz's wonderful Salty Dog, which would be a certain No1 for that duo. Meanwhile Antonio Costa Barbé's The Idol sounds like Bryan Ferry's next release.
Some songs go raw – Donna Blue's Too Much Between Us, while others go folksy and cute like the Oakes Brothers' Typewriter Torment, which cleverly skates on thin ice before welcoming a typewriter to the percussion section. Many tracks have Roland and the Swiss Family Clare playing or von-Trapping in the background – Peter Clare's smoky trumpet is used most effectively in Fran Glendining's Lime Street Blues (new tune here) and Peter also plays a mean cowbell in the up-tempo Pursuit of Happiness, evidently a consequence of possessing a BJ Wilson drumstick from the 60s.
Impresario Roland deserves much credit for this second offering, easily the equal of the first. The whole project deserves wider music media publicity, which would spin-off well for Procol Harum when they decide to do dates. A fans' cover band on this gargantuan (and talented) scale is surely worthy of note. In this regard the cover-illustration would be brilliantly helpful publicity.
This is an essential Paler purchase which both fills the void until the Islington DVD and the Band appear and is a genuine treasure in its own right.
Charlie Allison, Brechin, Scotland; 9 May 2004