Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 15 August 2009
By 1973 Procol Harum were looking and sounding out of step with contemporary trends. With glam-rock dominating the best-sellers and everyone seemingly in awe of Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon', this album was overlooked by record-buyers despite attracting some of the best reviews of the band's career. The reviews were fully justified, for 'Grand Hotel' might just be Procol Harum's forgotten masterpiece. It opens with the title track, a self-contained work of art of immense proportion telling of romancing and sleeping in an affluent hotel, the whole thing shot through with a hopeless nostalgia that reeks of decadence. Although not a concept album as such, what follows builds on these themes and begins to assume darker hues as the the songs progress towards a final plea for medical treatment. At the heart of the collection is the harrowing 'For Liquorice John', a heart-tugging account of a suicide which serves as an appropriate corrective to the preceeding tales of hotel-room trysts, drunken reverie and self-induced sickness. This is adult entertainment of a very sophisticated nature and it is significant that this record appears to have addressed the same issues as the Eagles did on 'Hotel California' some thee or four years later but in a far more assured manner. The Salvo re-issue is simply magnificent and a credit to a band which on 'Grand Hotel' achieved a creative peak that was barely noticed at the time. Now, then, would be a good time to appreciate its enduring worth.
0Comment| 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Procol Harum were / are one of the great 60s combos, who, despite releasing a massive-selling, era-defining single in the shape of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', never quite reached the kind of massive global success of some of their contemporaries. 'Grand Hotel' is probably their defining album, where their Classical leanings merged seamlessly with their full-on rocking notions. The title track is as rich as the foods and wines listed in the song lyric, but on tracks like 'Toujours L'Amour', their abilities to rock out as tough as anyone, with BJ Wilson's spiffy drumming and Mick Grabham's fiery lead guitar work much in evidence. There's more though; 'TV Caesar' is positivley funky, as is 'Bringing Home The BAcon', and there is not a duff track on the album. This is a great album, and this fine reissue looks and sounds wonderful.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 January 2010
Let's begin at the positive end: the digi-pack is appealing and Patrick Humphries' sleeve notes hit the exact right balance between introducing this album to the uninitiated and at the same time having something new to tell the long devoted fans.

Musically it is easy to criticise this album for being pompous and cold, but you have to remember that it came out at a time when popular music was at an all time low. I seem to recall the radio playing 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' all through the summer of 1973 (or perhaps that was the year before - don't tell me, I don't want to know). So-called progressive rock ruled the other end of the musical spectrum, extremely flamboyant, pseudo-intellectual and more obsessed with playing in impossible time signatures than communicating any form of real human emotion. The nightmare seemed never ending, at least until the following year when Procol Harum released 'Exotic Birds and Fruit', by far their best effort during this period.

However, with 'Grand Hotel' we're still stuck in 1973 with a group who used to have three fine songwriters - Brooker, Fisher, Trower - but had been cut back to only one. In many ways, this incarnation of the group might more appropriately have been called the Gary Brooker Band. To make it worse, guitarist Dave Ball, who had replaced Robin Trower, was sacked immediately after the recording of the album. Instead Mick Grabham was called in to overdub nearly all the guitar parts. One of the two bonus tracks on the reissue features Ball's original part and tells us exactly why this happened. Dave Ball was and is by no means a bad guitarist, he was just desperate to kick some life into this dead dog of a record, only he couldn't find a way to do it. Fortunately, Mick Grabham could, and it is very much his effort under these impossible circumstances that lifts the record enough to makes it an interesting listening experience after all.

'Grand Hotel' did nothing to dissolve the stale image the group was developing in the UK at the time, but it suited European audiences and sold well. Over the last 20 years or so it has been reissued many times over on CD, and you may wonder which version to go for. Well, certainly not this one. It pains me to see other reviewers praise this latest reissue for being 'crispy clear' and 'super detailed'. In a sense they may be right, but then everything sounds clear and detailed if you crank the treble up to 11. The sad truth is that this release is extremely poorly remastered, keeping in line with the tradition already established by Salvo since the start of their Procol Harum reissue programme (the two first CDs were playing the music at the wrong speed, and despite complaints from customers nothing has been done to recall these faulty discs or indeed rectify the error on subsequent product). I would love to be able to tell you differently, but the sound on this disc is so flat and harsh it borders on distortion, particularly with regard to vocals and Hammond organ. It is a disgrace to the group and casts a further cold sheen over a record that wasn't exactly renown for its soulfulness in the first place. Organist Chris Copping once complained that the 1973 vinyl version was depressingly poor sounding compared to what he had heard in the studio during the mix, but even a scratched old vinyl LP will still stand head an shoulders above this. You can pick vinyl copies up second hand for chip money, and the UK version even has a large booklet with ALL the lyrics.

With the recent release of the Beatles Mono box set we have seen just how good CDs can really sound in this day and age, and the trick is simple: just copy straight from the original master tape onto digital and keep your equalizers, compressors and limiters etc. way out of sight. The engineers working for Salvo Records obviously have all the advanced computer equipment to smash and flatten and distort the sound of a brilliant 1970s analogue recording, but they don't know how to hold up a tuning fork and check that the tape machine is running at the right speed before they commence on their destructive adventure.

In other words, we are still waiting to hear what Copping heard. Perhaps we will get it the next time around.
44 comments| 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 March 2008
Along with their wonderful live album with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Harum would return to its trademark, exquisitely melodramatic essence once again with Grand Hotel--if you had any doubts of what I said, just ponder on this title.

Gone, long gone, is Matthew Fisher and after Broken Barricades--harder set, fiercely led by his guitar--Robin Trower has departed. Yet, Chris Coping on organ and Mick Grabham on guitar more than make do in replacing such essential colors in Procol Harum's music.

Whether it was that "Barricades" did not please their constituency or that Keith Reid--their full-time lyricist--was ready for a more grandiose backdrop to his ambitious scenes, Grand Hotel faithfully returned to what had made the Procol Harum's great from A Whiter Shade of Pale onwards. From it's very opening, with Grand Hotel and Toujours L'amour--To Everyone Love--the stately arrangements and Brooker's circumspect voice take over the proceedings.

The whole album moves confidently forward from there. Robert's Box, Souvenir of London, Fires--and even Bringing Home the Bacon--are tracks that may or may not become your all-time favorites but will remind you why these guys were capable of, and how far from finished they still were then.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
October 13th 1970. The Royal Albert Hall, London.
Jethro Tull, Tir Na Nog and "special guests" Procol Harum in concert.
Now there was a gig for a young Wolf to get steamed up about.

The anthemic quality of Procol Harum's music and Mr Brooker's
unshowy yet affecting voice were captivating from the beginning.
'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' and 'Homburg' (1967); 'A Salty Dog' (1969);
'Conquistador' (1972) were all part of the dizzy soundtrack to my
largely misspent teenage years.

The classy, complex, classically oriented arrangements set
the band apart from their peers. This was BIG music.
Life-enhancing, enduring and loaded with irresistible pathos.

1973 saw the release of perhaps their most opulent
and engaging project. 'Grand Hotel' is, indeed, music of
grand design and epic ambition.

The evenly paced piano and organ entry to the opening
title track is quickly catapulted by B. J. Wilson's thundering
percussion into an uproariously lavish big-boned, wide-screen,
production number. Orchestra, choir and a complete fin de siecle
Viennese ballroom are all thrown headlong into the mix. Gloriously
excessive but by some strange internal magic it all holds together.

'For Liquorice John' allows Mr Brooker's plaintive vocals to soar.
Keith Reid's impressionistic lyrics compliment the elusive melody perfectly.
Likewise 'TV Caesar' with it's fine central guitar solo from Mr Grabham.
'Toujours l'Amour' and 'Bringing Home The Bacon' prove that the band
was no slouch when it came down to rocking-out either.
'A Souvenir Of London' creates a kind of whimsical one-man-band ambience.
'A Rum Tale' and 'Robert's Box' are more than worthy makeweights.

Final song 'Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)' brings the album to a
magisterial conclusion. Christine Legrand's charming Swinglish
vocal contribution is an absolute stroke of genius. I smile with joy
every time I hear it.

Beg, borrow or steal to get this album into your life.

After thirty five years my vinyl copy is wearing a little thin but I'm
hoping that it will last for as long as I'm able to watch the sun rise.
88 comments| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 June 2014
By 1973, Procol Harum were struggling to experience the same level of success which their late 1960s contemporaries were enjoying, despite producing a series of fine albums. 'Grand Hotel' (Procol's 6th studio venture) is certainly an often overlooked masterpiece; the title track is 6 minutes of glorious majesty and sweeping grandeur and there are several other excellent songs in this collection. 'Bringing Home The Bacon' is a brilliant rocker - powerful vocals from Gary Brooker, meaty organ playing from Chris Copping and a searing guitar solo from the new boy, Mick Grabham, whilst 'Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)' is a gorgeous mid-tempo ballad with lovely scat improvisation from Christiane Legrand. 'TV Caesar' - although a tad too long at almost 6 minutes in length - is another good rocker following neatly on from 'A Rum Tale' which is another little gem - essentially a piano/vocal vehicle for Brooker. The most curious track here is the cheeky innuendo of 'A Souvenir of London', a simple busking song, but, highly entertaining all the same. If you love English rock at its finest, you should definitely add this record to your collection.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 September 2009
"Tonight we sleep on silken sheets ..." Soulful-voiced Gary Brooker's opening line to this masterpiece of an album metaphorised changed fortune, with the band dressed up, top-hatted in tux 'n tails, sipping fine wines amidst the splendour of their baroque lodgings, the orchestra returned to the pit, the organ lid lifted again, ushering back what pinpointed their career highlights to date: the carefully-constructed, successfully-mounted epic. Roots in r 'n b and classical make for inevitable divergence in the ranks of any band and Procul Harum was equally torn, the band yielding to guitarist Robin Trower's drive for a harder-edged sound. 1971's 'Broken Barricades' was resultingly more pared back, tougher (and organ-free) than before; Trower leaves to pursue his solo career. As music author Patrick Humphries comments in his eloquent notes in this definitive re-mastered/re-packaging of the album, 'Grand Hotel' faced stiff competition in the year of its release from the likes of 'Dark Side Of The Moon', 'Band On The Run' and 'Quadrophenia'. That it more than adequately acquits itself is a simple matter of talent. Brooker and Keith Reid's songwriting reached new heights of memorability and melody in catchy 'TV Caesar', punchy stage fave 'Bringing Home The Bacon', droll and risque 'A Souvenir of London' (banjos and street bass drum beautifully evoking the city), poignant 'For Liquorice John' and the swoon-and-sweep title track. Marrying ballads to feisty mid-tempo rock from the band's most stable line-up (guitarist Mick Grabham, jumping ship from Cochise, on fine form), this liner of an album passes, shimmering in majestic orchestration and chorus, with solid gold production from Chris Thomas, fresh from John Cale's call to look after his own magnum opus 'Paris 1919'. Elegant, English and lush in ineffable abundance, 'Grand Hotel' is Procul Harum's finest hour.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 August 2009
Most fans will agree that procol's best album nominations should be A Salty Dog, Something Magic and Grand Hotel - three very different albums which can't really be compared side to side. Grand Hotel followed hot on the heels of their live album with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, so not surprisingly there are orchestral arrangements on some of the tracks. Reids lyrics, which had been going through an uninspired patch with Home and Broken Barricades, find a new whimsicallity, and Brooker's songwriting ability steps up a good few notches. Not a concept album, however everything works very well together, the sounds and musical styles are consistent throughout. Fires (which burnt brightly) in particular shows a revived level of inventiveness. The remastering is excellent.
11 comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 November 2009
This is the album that first brought me into the Procol Harum fold. I read a great review by Steve Simels in Stereo Review (the best band in Christendom if I recall), and picked it up. Mick does a nice job on guitar, he has his own style and didn't just copy Robin like Dave Ball. Though rumor has long held that many cuts had guitar tracks with Dave Ball who left the band during the initial stages of recording this album.

Hard to call whether this is better than the Friday music version, which I think was great also.

One major difference I have with another review; how can anybody call Something Magic a great Procol Album? Something Tragic is more like it.

In my view, you can purchase almost anything through Exotic Birds and be happy. Procol's Ninth was uneven but still worthwhile; Something Tragic has maybe two cuts that were tolerable. The song Something Magic itself was nice. And I king of like Mark of the Claw. Wizard Man makes me ill; Worm and the Tree is an audio version of what it is like to eat an apple and find a worm.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 May 2013
This has never been one of my favourite Procol albums, which is not to say that I don't enjoy it when I listen to it. Although there are four or five top drawer songs here, not all songs are equal and some are saved only by the quality and commitment of their performance. My main criticism is that I don't feel involved, that Procol Harum are playing for themselves and are presenting the songs rather than sharing them, which is why I don't come back to it as often as most of their other work. Still, at least it's not Procol's Ninth.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)