Procol Harum

Grand Hotel (CD)

Format: CD
Cat. No.: SALVOCD024
Barcode: 698458812421
Playing Time: 53:19

Grand Hotel was released in March 1973 and, as so often during those heady years, it had to fight to be heard. Around the time of its release it was competing with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (still the best-selling album ever released by a British band), Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run, and a brace of albums apiece from Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Roxy Music.

But despite the intense competition, Grand Hotel once again proved Procol worthy of their place among those major players. Many were surprised that the theme of the Grand Hotel did not extend over the whole album – to form, dare one say it, a concept album. But Keith Reid confined his concept to the title track: “‘Dover sole and oeufs Mornay; profiteroles and peach flambé...’ I was very pleased that no-one had come up with that rhyme before,” Keith told sleevenote writer Patrick Humphries.

Certainly Grand Hotel is a brilliantly evocative moment. Brooker’s stately melody supports Reid’s gorgeously decadent lyrics, and as with Liza Minnelli’s Cabaret the previous year, there was something louche and slightly illicit about what Procol was promising here. Elsewhere, the poignant For Liquorice John, the wry A Souvenir of London (a single that was banned by the BBC as it concerned catching an STD, albeit none too obviously) and the elegant Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) offered further proof of the band’s astounding versatility.


NME acknowledged the title track as ‘a masterpiece of musical perfection and lyricism’, while Richard Williams, in a glowing Melody Maker review, reckoned it ‘stands with Whaling Stories and A Salty Dog as the group’s finest achievements (they are, too, almost unique in that the more ambitious they get, the more they succeed)’.

As the wider pop world became captivated by glam rock, Grand Hotel cemented itself into a category quite rare in the early seventies... grown-up rock music. The band were still dogged by their rather Gothic image, although those seeing Procol in concert on the Grand Hotel tour will have noticed that, as they swung into the title track, an official photo of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips (a nod to the impending royal wedding) was projected on stage to a mighty cheer.

Bonus Tracks
Grand Hotel (raw track without orchestra)
Bringing Home the Bacon (raw track featuring Dave Ball)
Grand Hotel
Toujours l’Amour
A Rum Tale
T.V. Ceasar
A Souvenir Of London
Bringing Home The Bacon
For Liqourice John
Fires (Which Burn Brightly)
Robert’s Box