After the multi-million selling "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Procol Harum coalesced around a new lineup and cut a debut album in two days, the sales of which were only fair (because the hit song wasn't on it originally). Then they did Shine on Brightly, which initially drew on recordings going back to late 1967 -- in the course of preparing their first proper LP, the band junked an entire side of blues-based numbers in favor of the 18-minute suite "In Held 'Twas I," which rivaled anything yet heard from such established progressive rock outfits as the Nice or the Moody Blues in length and surpassed them in audacity, with an extensive spoken part surrounded by virtuoso classical and psychedelic passages (and even a featured spot for Dave Knights' bass). It all proved that they were more than a one-hit wonder and, released in late 1968, the album extended the definition of progressive rock, even as it kept much of the music rooted in established rock genres. "Skip Softly," for all of its grand piano pyrotechnics, was also a showcase for Robin Trower's bluesy, high-energy guitar attack, and "Wish Me Well" was an even better vehicle for his instrument, while "Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)" was an interesting exercise in nostalgia highlighted by Matthew Fisher's organ.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder