Gary Brooker Ensamble
The Chameleon Arts Chorus. Chorus Master: Andrew Phillips
The Chameleon Arts String Quartet
Produced by Gary Brooker By arrangement with Chameleon Arts Mgmt.
Procol Harum singer and pianist Gary Brooker organized a benefit concert at and for his local church, St. Mary's and All Saints, in Surrey, England, on Sept. 28, 1996, and released a recorded version on his own mail-order label Gazza Records. Now picked up by the German Repertoire label, the album presents the unplugged, five-piece Gary Brooker Ensemble, whose members include former Pretenders guitarist Robbie McIntosh and Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki, accompanied by a chorus and a string quartet, playing a combination of classical pieces, gospel adaptations, and songs from Procol Harum's catalog. (The title song is newly written by Brooker and his lyric collaborator Keith Reid.) The result is a charming chamber work with wonderfully detailed sound that illuminates the roots of Procol Harum's music in its classical antecedents. Neatly marking the 25th anniversary of the group's popular album Procol Harum Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, it manages to define the inevitable closing song, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," as part of a tradition including Vaughan Williams and even that noted composer Henry VIII.
- William Ruhlmann (All Music Guide)
On 28th September 1996, a crowd gathered at the beautiful 13th Century church of St Mary & All Saints in rural Surrey, England. The purpose was to rehearse and then perform two concerts in aid of church funds, the music varying from pastoral to gospel but all 'deemed appropriate'!
The choir (numbering 16), string quartet, and organist were reading from music prepared in the weeks before by Gary Brooker, whilst the front line 'rock band' played ad lib on acoustic instruments. The rector, the Revd. Geoffrey Willis, had managed to squeeze an audience of 150 into the ancient pews, half local congregation and half 'rock fans', and with 25 performers and the necessary staging and equipment, the little church was bursting at its sacred seams!
In the days before, Gary had decided to arrange a mobile recorder in case the unique evening turned out to be worth saving. As with any 'one-off' effort, total perfection is not the objective, but rather to communicate to everybody present what live music is all about - Enjoying Yourself! and so bumps, groans, jokes, tuning, flying insects, and musical hesitancies, are all included as they happened, and as they were experienced by everybody that night.
The magnificent walls, arches, and windows of St Mary & All Saints have surely heard many sounds and words over its 700 year history, but as the echoes faded into the dark corners that night, it must have felt that something special had happened - it had - Within Our House.