Procol Harum

the Pale 

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

Pop Britannia • 'A Well-Respected Man'

Gary Brooker's comments and contributions

This was a 2008 three-part BBC2 documentary series setting out to tell the story of British popular music and its place in British culture since the 1950s. In the 60s Britain went pop mad. The architects were a group of artists and entrepreneurs who would prise pop out of the grasp of showbiz interests to create a truly authentic British sound of the Beatles, Stones and Who and at the same time prepared the way for a new, more corporate pop business. About half an hour into Part II we watch Don Arden signing the Small Faces, in the wake of the pop boom: 'The Al Capone of British Pop'. We learn how the establishment sided with the managers, not the artists. Larry Page was in court, over The Kinks, and now reads out an ancient document in which Lord Justice Salmon said, ‘Almost anything a manager might do, however harmless or trivial, could induce hatred and distrust in a group of highly temperamental, jealous and spoilt adolescents'. 'I rest my case,' says Page emphatically.. Reg Presley talks about the '60s, and the spontaneity of what was happening.  Maurice Gibb talks about the primacy of Britain, Carnaby Street etc. George Martin talks of how youth was driving things; Noddy Holder mentions eavesdropping on Beatle sessions at Abbey Road. Geoff Emerick speaks of how Sgt Pepper brought pop music 'into colour'. Then we hear the continuity announcer, Anne-Marie Duff,  saying: 'But it wasn’t just technology that was invading pop' and Gary Brooker appears on the screen (his words, below, are in green.)

Gary Brooker
Lysergic acid diethylamide, be it 6 or 26, was a perfectly legal substance. It was used by psychiatrists to um … to make the people that they were examining become a bit more free, and open up their mind a bit.

(Background of swirling colours gives way to monochrome clip of Procol on Top of the Pops.)

But it was just that … it affected the art of the time and it affected the music of the time eventually.

Fab Paul is featured in the famously awkward confessional clip. 'How often have you taken LSD?' McCartney squirms a bit: 'I don’t know what everyone’s so angry about ...'

Voice over: British pop was growing up and entering the acid-drenched psychedelic era. In 1967, Whiter Shade of Pale's tripped-out sounds would hit the top of both UK and US charts. (Film of beautiful young people doing characteristic zeitgeist things, smoking, dancing absurdly). London’s position as pop capital of the world was cemented during the Summer of Love. (AWSoP still plays)

Well the Summer of Love – a very very exciting and creative time I think for all forms of art, especially in London. I think London took off at that point.

(AWSoP still playing, colour film of traffic at Piccadilly Circus)

Um .. and just moved ahead in the world. Britannia ruled that pop world for quite a long time.

Then comes the Hendrix story. Songs got longer, more serious, and strove to be significant. Pink Floyd and Cream brought Britain into the rock era,. Rock was conceptual, for grown-ups, and made three-minute pop seem passé. The very currency of British pop seemed to change, overnight,

Well I think 1967 was a turning point for the business, that in fact British artists suddenly started making albums. I mean until then really – all right, the Beatles sold albums – but in fact singles started to fade from ’67 onwards and ... um ... you know ... you get something like the Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake which was much more important than some of their singles.

(Film changes from Cream at a festival to the Small Faces in a TV studio playing Song of a Baker)

Voice-over tells how the Small Faces had left Don Arden, metamorphosing into prog-rockers. The film goes on to examine Brian Epstein’s fall from power ...

The show featured clips from the following songs: A Day In The Life (The Beatles); A Shot Of Rhythm & Blues (The Beatles); A Well Respected Man (The Kinks); All You Need Is Love (The Beatles); Always Something There To Remind Me (Sandie Shaw); Anyone Who Had A Heart (Cilla Black); Anyone Who Had A Heart (Dionne Warwick); Anywhere, Anyhow, Anywhere (The Who); Around And Around (The Rolling Stones); As Tears Go By (The Rolling Stones); Astronomy Dominie (Pink Floyd); Blockbuster (The Sweet); Can The Can (Suzi Quatro); Can't Explain (The Who); Children Of The Revolution (T Rex); Coz I Love You (Sweet); Day Tripper (The Beatles); Eight Little Fishies (Donovan); Ferry Cross The Mersey (Gerry And The Pacemakers); Get It On (T Rex); God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols); Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix); House Of The Rising Sun (The Animals); I'm Into Something Good (Herman's Hermits); Love Me Do (The Beatles); Love You Till Tuesday (David Bowie); Memo From Turner (Mick Jagger); My Generation (The Who); Out Of Time (Chris Farlowe); Shalalalalee (The Small Faces); She Loves You (The Beatles); Song Of A Baker (The Small Faces); Starman (David Bowie); Sunrise, Sunset (Don Arden); Sunshine Superman (Donovan); The Young Ones (Cliff Richard & The Shadows); To Sir With Love (Lulu); Tomorrow Never Knows (The Beatles); Virginia Plain (Roxy Music); Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks); A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum); Wild Thing (Jimi Hendrix); Wild Thing (The Troggs); You Really Got Me (The Kinks).

Gary Brooker's page at BtP

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home