While the overall sound is definitely Procol Harum, you can hear the influences of the likes of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Phil Spector among others. Producer Chris Thomas sat in on sessions for the Beatles’ white album and mixed Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while producing Grand Hotel, both experiences undoubtedly coloring Thomas’ producing of this album. “The Idol” in particular could easily be mistaken for an outtake from Dark Side of the Moon. This was the fifth and last Procol Harum album produced by Thomas, whose credits would later include Badfinger’s Wish You Were Here, The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb as well as albums for the Pretenders, INXS, Elton John and Paul McCartney.
Also included in this edition is “Drunk Again,” the original b-side of “Nothing but the Truth,” and an alternate mix of “As Strong as Sampson” in D-flat. “Drunk Again” is another great rock gem along the lines of “Butterfly Boys.” Everyone gets to cut loose on this track it is a welcome addition to the album. The alternate cut of “As Strong as Sampson” is interesting, but the original is better. Absent is the band’s take on Strauss’ “Blue Danube” that was included in the 2004 reissue of the album.
An overall strong album from the band, and well worth it for the first four tracks alone (particularly “Beyond the Pale.” Exotic Birds & Fruit is now available for download from iTunes, Amazon, and UnionSquareMusic.co.uk, and the band is playing a handful of shows in November in support. Full show listings available at ProcolHarum.com.