Procol Harum

Classic Tracks and Rarities: An Anthology

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There is a track listing on the back cover of Metro Doubles' two-CD Procol Harum compilation, Classic Tracks and Rarities: An Anthology, and potential purchasers are encouraged to consult it before buying this album. It is a natural tendency to assume that a collection with a title like that surveys the group's entire career, but in fact, this one focuses on only the first four albums, Procol Harum, Shine On Brightly, A Salty Dog, and Home. There are three tracks from Procol Harum, plus three alternate takes of songs from that album, among them a version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" in stereo; six of the seven tracks from Shine On Brightly, plus an alternate take of the seventh one and two outtakes, "Monsieur Armand" and "Seem to Have the Blues (Mostly All the Time)"; eight of the ten tracks from A Salty Dog; and eight of the nine tracks from Home. In addition, there are five tracks drawn from non-LP singles, four of which later appeared on the 1973 LP The Best of Procol Harum. Thus, of the album's 36 tracks, only seven were not released on Procol Harum albums in the U.S. between 1967 and 1973, and of those, only two are actually unheard compositions. Those two will be of interest to fans, although it would be hard to argue they should have displaced songs that made the LP's final cut. The compilation is nearly as long as it could be and still fit on two discs, but it remains a curious collection, containing most, but not all, of Procol Harum's early output. Those attracted to the rarities with which it is baited will, of course, already have the band's first four albums. Casual fans will be disappointed that all the group's recordings aren't sampled.

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