Before man reached the Moon (or not, depending on the conspirationists’ point of view), the seed of progressive rock had already been planted. The restlessness had lodged in the minds of the subsequent musicians who followed Procol Harum, a band that, although their self-titled debut was not something memorable, Shine On Brightly dramatically changes things. It is here that one comes across one of the first symphonies of non-academic music: a pretentious piece in its conception, but impeccable in its construction and execution, one of the first pieces of progressive rock.
Shine On Brightly is an unconventional British psychedelic record for the time, that although it shares several aspects with bands of the time such as The Doors, especially its acid sound, or the Beatles themselves (Sgt. Pepper more than Magical Mystery itself), There are others that, although they maintain their pop structure, most of the passages will be glorified by later bands. Because although they are part of the sixties psychedelic, it seems that several of the efforts are not aimed at doing something complexly hallucinatory, but rather abundant in nuances, dead by saturation: from there would come the cross, for example, of rhythm & blues and gospel in Wish Me Well (too much to my liking), or Skip Softly, which brims with nods to simultaneous baroque pop, but doesn’t skimp on getting rid of the same complexion in the end. Rambling On’s dark humor is a descent into alienation from a vindicated pop character that could be one of those rag ballads that Bowie has in his Ziggy days. None of them, however, is going to be the reason why Procol Harum is going to be in the collections of current progressive scouts. We owe that to the more experimental In Held Twas In I, an obligatory reference when talking about the conception of rock not only progressive but symphonic, and essential influence for the musicians who follow it.
As for Brooker’s beautiful voice, warm and sentimental, it is, as usual, the icing on the cake. For lovers of the genre, it is an album not to be missed.
Listen to the full album below: