The Prodigal Stranger

It may be a first: A great ’60s band reunites, rerecords, and emerges with both dignity and reputation fully intact. Destined to be remembered for their otherworldy 1967 hit ”A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Procol peaked in the late ’60s with their album A Salty Dog, lost organist Matthew Fisher and guitarist Robin Trower to solo careers that met with mixed success, then slowly fizzled out. Fisher’s absence was always the most sorely felt, and it’s his touch here — both on the Hammond organ and the cowriting of this album’s four best tracks — that makes this a genuine continuation of the U.K. group’s undervalued legacy. And though the songs in The Prodigal Stranger (most, as usual, in minor keys, with lyrics, as usual, about love and loss) are occasionally overproduced, singer Gary Brooker’s powerfully soulful voice still makes the difference every time. Most of The Prodigal Stranger would have sounded perfectly wonderful in 1969 — and in this case, that’s a compliment. B+

The Prodigal Stranger
  • Music