Stephen Slattery writes to 'Beyond the Pale' (September 2008)
|'Never posted you before, and dunno if this has been mentioned on the message board at all, but there is a reference to the Grand Hotel première on page 66 (paperback edition) of Sebastian Faulks's novel Engleby. The following paragraph deals with the eponymous hero buying Robin Trower's solo album! I think there's a direct ref to AWSoP in the book too but couldn't find it now, sorry!|
|'"I took a train to London from Reading to see Procol Harum when they premièred their new album, Grand Hotel, with an orchestra and choir. It was good, but I wasn't sure Mick Grabham was up to it as Robin Trower's replacement on guitar, particularly on Whaling Stories, a song of which I need only to hear the opening note to find my stomach tense and my saliva fill with the re-experienced taste of Glyn Power's A-grade hashish. There's something essential in Trower's tone that Grabham didn't catch." (Sebastian Faulks, Engleby)|
|'It's well worth reading; it's his best
book in my opinion, I've read most of them. Lots of other musical
references in it (Mahler, Elton, Nick Drake, Joni, Roxy, James
Taylor). I wish I'd been on that train from Reading ...
'Keep up the good work! The site is fantastic, there are 'bigger' bands with big-label money behind them whose sites are a disgrace and have no heart and soul in them like you guys have created, so well done.'
(click on the picture to order the novel)
Commenting on the eponymous hero The Observer painted a picture of a 1970s-Cambridge-English-student-cum-Procol-Harum-fan that at least one of the BtP webmasters is unlikely to endorse: '... a fresher at Cambridge in 1973 ... his memory, photographic and encyclopaedic one moment, hopelessly amnesiac the next, is enough to send anyone bonkers ... he is, we come to realise, a weirdo, a gatecrasher, a 'loner' ... he has no sex life that we know of, though he is happy to share what seems an idiot savant's knowledge of contemporary prog rock ...'.
See also reviews in The Guardian, in The Independent, and in The Times, which concluded ' ... witty, poignant, Engleby is as cold as a Fenland wind, as clever as a Cambridge don'.
NB the orchestral début of Grand Hotel material in London took place in 1972
Chris Copping, Procol's erstwhile organist, writes to 'Beyond the
Pale' (October 2011)
Wife Vicki alerted to me to this passage in a book she is reading – Engleby, by Sebastian Faulks.
“As well as the Quicksilver messenger Service poster, there is one for Procol Harum live at the Rainbow theatre…..
“I took a train to London from Reading to see Procol Harum when they premiered their new album , Grand Hotel with an orchestra and choir. It was good but I wasn’t sure Mick Grabham was up to it as Robin Trower’s replacement on guitar, particularly on Whaling Stories , a song of which I only need to hear the opening note to find my stomach tense and my saliva fill with the re-experienced taste of Glynn Power’s A-grade hashish. There’s something essential in Trower’s tone that Grabham didn’t catch.
"This being the case, I bought Trower’s solo album whose first track, I Can't Wait much Longer, bears a weight of melancholy that is unendurable – in my ears anyway. (Though I still quite like it. In the doom there’s passion and booze and things to do with living. For a distillation of despair with no redeeming qualities, for a tincture of suicide in A minor, try acelift or Slightly All the Time from Soft Machine’s Third."
(It was in fact Mick's first gig
with the band – can't remember if we did any GH songs in it –
we had started the album the previous winter – then after Mick joined,
we started all over again apart from Souvenir – but as the author
is writing in the first person of his character, undergraduate with a
fondness for both booze and dope, it is quite a cunning disclaimer for