Greetings to all Palers from the 'team' that maintains 'Beyond the Pale' (people are sometimes surprised to find out that the team is just two people ... albeit with a worldwide wealth of contributors and fellow-enthusiasts behind them).
It need hardly be said that it has been a brilliant year for Procol Harum fans ... numerous really good concerts, the live Procol concert DVD, new material heard on stage; great fun and friendship at the Croydon party in May, and of course the announcement, on BtP's fifth birthday, of the new album, now recorded, mixed, and named The Well's on Fire ... now making its long progress through the record company machine, to be with us in early March.
The 'team' were delighted to accept an invitation to the wedding party of Matthew and Carol Fisher in May, and present the newly-weds with a special folder of fans' greetings, sent in to the website; in addition Roland had the good fortune to travel in Denmark with the band during June, and of course everyone at BtP's 'One More Toast' party in Croydon was able to socialise with them over post-concert champagne. Fans all over Europe who have travelled to this year's gigs have found the band as friendly and open as ever, a sure sign that they value and respect their loyal following.
And it's a creative following too! It's hard to imagine another band whose musical fans could have come up with the amazing re-interpretations of great songs that are heard on the Palers' Project excellent double CD, Lost in the Looking-Glass. 71 players from across the world have recreated the music they love, and it's been entirely marshalled by electronic word-of-mouth: fans are now ordering the album online (a mere 18 dollars) from www.palersproject.com... though we are a long way from recouping costs, and would welcome some more customers (only 7 in the USA so far!!). There's been a lot of perspiration, as well as inspiration, behind this project; already offers of tracks for a follow-up are coming in.
But the big event on the musical horizon is of course The Well's on Fire, and the promotional tour. As well as presenting pre-release excerpts online via our 'Fresh Fruit' newsletter, the BtP 'team' were both privileged to hear the album in its entirety, in the Brooker barn last week, as Franky and Gary's guests. It sounds tremendous ... a real Procol album, from a real working band, mature, understated, moving and mysterious. We don't doubt that it will enjoy instant success among the fan base, but we must all be pro-active, and spread the word among other music fans, write to local papers, importune local record-stores and radio stations, and ensure that Procol make the mark with it that they deserve ... all in the hope that the fiery well of the Brooker / Fisher / Reid team will continue to shine on brightly!
The band's management have asked us to canvas opinion among transAtlantic fans for a possible US tour which, if it comes to pass, will be Procol's first for seven years. Watch BtP's pages for this, as well, of course, as enjoying the Christmas Puzzles and our continuing feast of daily updates ... thanks to everyone who has sent material in, and please keep it coming.
If the past five years of work by 'Beyond the Pale' and its world-wide constituency have contributed anything to the present resurgence of Procol Harum, let's be thankful for that, and hope that continuing enthusiasm and positive spirit from all the fans will continue to bring forth fine music from Gary, Matthew, Mark, Geoff, Matt and Keith ... and fine work from their administrative, merchandising, managerial and technical associates.
We thank them all, and wish them, and all their admirers, a Happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous and musical 2003.
Jens + Roland, in Norway and England, 'Beyond the Pale'
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