Grand Hotel (album)

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Grand Hotel
Procol Harum Grand.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1973
GenreProgressive rock, symphonic rock
Length41:01
LabelChrysalis,
Esoteric Recordings (2021 remaster),
Repertoire (2000 German reissue)
ProducerChris Thomas
Procol Harum chronology
Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
(1972)
Grand Hotel
(1973)
Exotic Birds and Fruit
(1974)

Grand Hotel is the sixth studio album by Procol Harum. Released in 1973, it signalled a change of direction for the band. Guitarist Dave Ball, who had joined the band for their live album the previous year, left shortly after the photo shoot for the proposed album's cover, to be replaced by Mick Grabham. Grabham's head was superimposed on the front and back cover of the album on Ball's body. Although the band had gone through significant personnel changes in previous years, the band would enter its most stable phase with this lineup.

The album reached No. 21 on the Billboard album charts. It peaked at #4 in Denmark,[1] where the group was always well received.

Although Grand Hotel appears on the surface to be a concept album, the "concept", according to lyricist Keith Reid, doesn't extend beyond the title tune.[2]

The single "A Souvenir of London" was banned by the BBC for the reference to venereal disease in its lyrics. Reid claimed that the song was really inspired (regardless of how it turned out and was interpreted) by a visit to a souvenir shop near George Martin's Air Studios. "Almost every album has had at least one comic song...and this one was a bit tongue in cheek" Reid stated as part of an interview for the 2009 CD reissue.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Christgau's Record GuideC[4]

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in 1973, Bud Scoppa called Grand Hotel a "confused and uneven transitional album" and "a collection of overblown production jobs that, at their worst, approach self-parody, and simpler, less grandiose tracks that suggest Procol Harum may yet find a way out of the corner they have worked themselves into."[5] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau similarly noted the split in musical identity: "For years, these guys have vacillated between a menu of grits that certainly ain't groceries and larks' tongues in aspic. Despite their current white-tie conceit, they still haven't decided."[6]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic's James A. Gardner gave the album three-and-a-half out of five stars and said the replacement of the band's original guitarist Robin Trower with the "capable, even powerful, but not nearly as distinctive" Mick Grabham resulted in a greater reliance on "ornate arrangements than guitar riffs, making this somewhat more dignified than either of their previous studio albums, Home and Broken Barricades."[7]

2009 Salvo reissue[edit]

In 2009 Salvo reissued the CD remastered by Nick Robbins. Vocalist/keyboardist/composer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid supplemented the original CD with two bonus tracks. Both were "raw" tracks; i.e., they did not feature overdubs. One of the bonus tracks, "Bringing Home the Bacon", is the only one to feature former guitarist Dave Ball. The 2009 reissue also featured an essay by Patrick Humphries and was reissued in a cardboard sleeve.

Record Store Day UK 2021 release[edit]

A newly remastered limited edition vinyl LP of Grand Hotel was released on Record Store Day UK, 12 June 2021 on the Esoteric Recordings label. This release was limited to 1000 copies in 180g white vinyl. Newly remastered from the original master tapes and cut at Abbey Road Studios, it has a gatefold sleeve and facsimile of the original lyric book.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Grand Hotel"6:08
2."Toujours L'amour"3:32
3."A Rum Tale"3:21
4."T.V. Caesar"5:54
Side two
No.TitleLength
1."A Souvenir of London"3:21
2."Bringing Home the Bacon"4:18
3."For Liquorice John"4:26
4."Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)"5:08
5."Robert's Box"4:49
Bonus tracks (2009 Salvo Records reissue)
No.TitleLength
1."Grand Hotel" (raw track without orchestral)6:09
2."Bringing Home the Bacon" (raw track featuring Dave Ball)6:06
2018 remastered edition – disc one
No.TitleLength
1."Grand Hotel" (raw track without orchestra)6:09
2."Bringing Home the Bacon" (Dave Ball-era recording)6:06
3."Toujours L'amour" (early take)3:40
4."Fires (Which Burn Brightly)" (early take)5:04
5."Robert's Box" (early take)4:39
2018 remastered edition – disc two : Live on RTBF TV, Belgium 1973 (DVD)
No.TitleLength
1."Bringing Home the Bacon" 
2."Grand Hotel" 
3."Fires (Which Burnt Brightly)" 
4."A Salty Dog" 
5."A Rum Tale" 
6."Conquistador" 
7."For Liquorice John" 
8."Power Failure" 
9."A Souvenir of London" 

Charts[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 28
United States (Billboard Top LPs) 21

Personnel[edit]

Procol Harum

with:

Technical
  • John Punter – engineer
  • Spencer Zahn – artwork, design
  • Jeffrey Weisel – photography, drawings in internal booklet

Certifications[edit]

United Kingdom-Silver[10]

Legacy[edit]

Douglas Adams came up with the idea for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe while listening to the title track.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Danskehitlister.dk
  2. ^ Keith Reid Interview by Patrick Humphries for 2009 reissue booklet
  3. ^ Keith Reid interview by Patrick Humphries for 2009 reissue booklet
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: P". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 10 March 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  5. ^ Scoppa, Bud (10 May 1973). "Procol Harum: Grand Hotel". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (August 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Grand Hotel – Procol Harum". AllMusic.
  8. ^ "Procol Harum". Record Store Day. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 241. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ BPI Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Adams, Douglas. The Salmon of Doubt.

External links[edit]