Niels-Erik Mortensen writes to BtP:
Normally, A Whiter Shade of Pale does not make headline news (anymore).
However, that was not the case Wednesday evening in Denmark, where the most popular TV-news – the News on TV2 – presented the newest cover version of AWSoP.
Standing in a dress quite similar to Procol's on the Grand Hotel sleeve, 52-year old singer and bass player Bamse (aka Flemming Jørgensen: 'Bamse' means Teddy-Bear!) was seen singing that song. Today (7 October 1999), his new album Stand By Me is published – thus including the first Danish cover of the song.
The AWSoP arrangement is a bit similar to the previous ones from The Long Goodbye and Justin Hayward's 1989-version: airy and scored for strings (The Prague Symphony Orchestra!).
As Bamse is one of the most popular artists, the CD will appear on the top slots of the charts in no time.
Flemming "Bamse" Jørgensen, Stand By Me, RecArt/EMI Denmark 1999.
Stand By Me (Ben E King)
Words (B, R & M Gibb)
Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison)
Time After Time (Cindy Lauper / Rob Hyman) - duet with Trine Hein, vocals
Wind Beneath My Wings (L Henley / J Silbar)
I Still Believe (Fl. B. Jørgensen / Th. Helmig) - an original song, first published here
A Whiter Shade of Pale (Brooker / Reid) Bamse, vocals; Kaare Norge & Poul Halberg, acoustic guitars, with the Kontra (String) Quartet, arranged by Poul E Christensen
Sometimes When We Touch (Hill / Mann)
I'll Never Get Over You (John Hiatt)
When A Man Loves A Woman (C Lewis / A Wright)
Only One Woman (B, R & M Gibb)
Yesterday (Lennon / McCartney)
Nights In White Satin (Justin Hayward)
Stand By Me (Ben E King) - acoustic version for grand piano only
Highlights: The two Bee Gees / Marbles songs and Nights... which follow the original arrangements loyally. AWSoP is extraordinarily well rendered in an airy arrangement for two acoustic guitars and string quartet, very close to that found on Kaare Norge's record. No wonder, as the arranger is the same. However, the tune is transposed down by a semitone (to B major). Bamse has approached Norge in order to provide a similar version, "probably the first AWSoP without an organ", as Bamse has told the press (I'm not sure if he's right – the Hayward version didn't include any kind of organ). I surely would have expected a "tougher" rendition, nevertheless, I think he caught the mood of the song very nicely.
Apart from the acoustic version of Stand By Me, all other songs are scored for rock band – including some fine keyboards work. Overall impression: a well-produced handful of classic rock & pop songs mainly from the 60s. A collection of international scope, Bamse's first recording in English turned out quite satisfying.
Late October 1999: Niels-Erik adds
If "one is the loneliest number" – as Three Dog Night used to sing a lot of years ago – two might be the luckiest number for Flemming Bamse Jørgensen. Last week his album Stand By Me which encloses a new cover of AWSoP entered the official IFPI chart as no. two. And for the second week the CD remains in that position. So as thousands of Danes leave the record shops with Bamse in a bag, there is a very good chance to have a new AWSoP at the top of the charts again.
Early November 1999: Niels-Erik adds
The CD recorded by Bamse, containing AWSoP, was rewarded Friday with a golden CD for selling 25,000 copies. This
Monday, the sales figures were 50,000 for which Bamse received a platinum award (during a soccer match in his native city of Århus, where his record company found him ...). The disc has been on sale since Oct 7th. - a No 1 position for the CD this Sunday is now more likely than ever ...
23 December 1999: Flemming "Bamse" Jørgensen makes an entry in the Beyond the Pale Guestbook, telling us that the CD Stand By Me has now sold 130,000 copies. In a follow-up e-mail to webmaster Jens, he tells that he knows a lot about Procol Harum, and adds that he might consider another Procol Harum song for his next CD. "Stand By Me is a tribute to all good old songs," he says. "Songs that are part of the reason that I became a musician."
You may read more about "Bamse" at his website: Bamses Venner. it's in Danish, so you have to understand Scandinavian to enjoy anything other than looking at the pictures.
27 January 2000: "Bamse" informs BtP that the album Stand By Me has now sold 150,000 copies.
3 February 2000 "Bamse" informs BtP that … 'Stand by Me including AWSoP finally reached No 1 at the Danish charts' (thanks, Flemming)
Claes Johansen interviews Bamse for this website