With their record sales in decline, and no hit singles in several years either, Procol Harum entered the studio to record their "make it or break it" tenth album, 1977's "Something Magic." Onboard was new keyboardist Pete Solley, while former keyboardist Chris Copping moved over to play bass, replacing Alan Cartwright. "Something Magic" is easily Harum's most controversial album, primarily for the 18 1/2-minute epic, "The Worm & The Tree," which takes up the second-half of the album, and was roundly criticized at the time as being pretentious. However, I say the controversy has been completely blown out of proportion. "Something Magic," although not the greatest record Procol Harum ever made, is a very excellent album. Bad? Not at all. Gary Brooker & company, in my opinion, have *never* recorded a bad album, and "Something Magic" is no exception. The title song, "Wizard Man," and "Mark Of The Claw" are all first-rate Harum pop-rockers, "Skating On Thin Ice" is the track that mostly resembles classic Harum of old, and it's great. And "Strangers In Space," with it's hypnotic, ethereal feel, is very beautiful stuff.And "The Worm & The Tree"? Granted, I can understand why this epic piece, structured like a children's rhyme set to music, with Brooker *speaking* all of the lyrics instead of singing them, probably wouldn't work as a live number. But, as a studio creation, I think "The Worm & The Tree" works just fine. The music is wonderful (including some excellent orchestral arrangements), the band's performance is strong, and Brooker's narration is quite good (even when he's not singing, Gary Brooker has a great voice!). And the story itself, written by band lyricist Keith Reid, is a very good allegorical tale about life, death, and re-birth. Pretentious or not, I like "The Worm & The Tree." And I like the whole album, too.Deciding that they'd finally run out of steam as a band, Procol Harum disbanded following the tour for "Something Magic," and Gary Brooker went on to a short-lived solo career, releasing three albums on his own. But, like in the tale of "The Worm & The Tree," Procol Harum was NOT gone for good. 14 years later, Harum were re-born with their fantastic comeback album, 1991's "The Prodigal Stranger." But "Something Magic," despite the poor sales, was a great album for Harum to end their first phase of work together. It's also a fond farewell to the band's late, great drummer, B.J. Wilson, who made his final appearance with the band on this release (he passed away in 1989). "Something Magic" is an excellent Procol Harum album, "Worm" and all.