Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Andrew Deas: the BBC Sessions


I am just writing to let you know the results of my researches into what still remains at the BBC from the radio sessions Procol Harum did in the 60s and 70s.

All remaining sessions, and parts of sessions, can be heard at The National Sound Archive, which is part of the British Library. Although an appointment has to be made, the Listening Service is free. The National Sound Archive moves from South Kensington (0171 412 7418) to St Pancreas [sic!] (0171 412 7440) in May 1998.

Procol Harum did twelve sessions between 1967 and 1974. They are listed as performing 44 songs, although one of these In Held 'Twas in I is almost certainly an LP track as John Peel fades it out after 3mins 59 seconds, whereas the total running time is nearer 18 minutes.

From the first session, broadcast 08.06.67 Pop North, nothing survives, the lost songs being A Whiter Shade of Pale, Conquistador, and Lime Street Blues. According to Shine On No 3, this session was re-broadcast in 1980. If it still exists, it hasn't been found.

All three songs from the next session, Light Easy Beat, broadcast 18.06.67 survive: Morning Dew (3.08), A Whiter Shade of Pale (5.08) and Mabel (1.36).

Four of the five tracks from the next session, Top Gear, broadcast 08.10.67 remain: She Wandered Through the Garden Fence (3.08), Homburg (3.47 see here) , Good Captain Clack (1.16) and Kaleidoscope (2.24). Repent Walpurgis has been lost.

Nothing remains from the Dave Symonds Programme, broadcast 16.10.67, the lost songs being Conquistador, Good Captain Clack and Homburg.

Happily, everything from the next two sessions can still be heard. From Top Gear, broadcast 1 5.02.68, Skip Softly My Moonbeams (3.25), Rambling On (4.14), Quite Rightly So (3.37) and Shine On Brightly (3.40). It is likely that some, if not all, of these songs especially Rambling On survive, not from the original broadcast, but for use in a BBC World Service programme (probably Top of the Pops), as Rambling On is introduced by Brian Matthews not, as I recall, a Top Gear regular.

From Top Gear, broadcast 08.09.68: Skip Softly my Moonbeams (3.40), Long Gone Geek (2.40), Wish Me Well (3.33); In Held 'Twas in I.

Of the four songs from Symonds On Sunday broadcast 25.05.69, two survive: A Salty Dog (12.40) [sic] and Milk of Human Kindness (3.3 5), and also two don't, Pilgrims Progress and Homburg. In most of the songs broadcast in their sessions there is a great similarity to the recorded sessions, the main differences being additional verses as in the lost AWSoP from 08.06.67, or different instrumentation as this version of A Salty Dog contains a string section. chances are it's the record. Unfortunately, it cannot be compared to the version of A Salty Dog from the Top Gear sessions, broadcast 01.06.69, as this has been lost, along with The Devil Came From Kansas, and Too Much Between Us. The only existing song is Juicy John Pink (2.12).

A year later, from The Dave Symonds Show, broadcast 08.06.70, Your Own Choice (2.31), and About to Die (3.02) are still with us. The Dead Man's Dream is on the missing list.

All three songs from the sessions broadcast 02.10.70 are missing: Whisky Train, Juicy John Pink, Nothing That I Didn't Know.

Two, out of four, survive from the session broadcast 25.10.71: Broken Barricades (2.32) and Power Failure (3.18). Lost are: Simple Sister and Quite Rightly So.

Like the first sessions, nothing survives from the last session, broadcast 19.03.74, all songs from Exotic Birds and Fruit: Butterfly Boys, The Idol, Beyond the Pale and Nothing But the Truth.

Needless to say, many, if not all, tracks lost by the BBC still survive thanks to off-air recording by fans.

Procol Harum also did three In Concert broadcasts. The first, from 1970, the BBC have lost. The 1974 In Concert from the Golders Green Hippodrome is not lost, and can be heard in glorious stereo. Introduced by Bob Harris, the songs are: Conquistador (4. 14), Bringing Home the Bacon (4.22), Whaling Stories (8.46), New Lamps for Old (4.10), As Strong as Samson (5.40), Simple Sister (5.56), The Idol (6.45), Butterfly Boys (3.29), and Nothing But the Truth (3.08). This set is now available on legitimate CD

The 1977 In Concert programme was not only a stereo radio broadcast, but extrapolating from Gary's comment about this being Pete Solley's first time on TV, also a television broadcast probably from the Sight and Sound series, where concerts were broadcast simultaneously on BBC2 (Sight) and in stereo on Radio 1 (Sound). The programme, introduced by Pete Drummond, contains: Something Magic (3.42), Conquistador (4.29), Strangers In Space (7.23), Grand Hotel (6.33), Pandora's Box (4.32), Nothing But the Truth (2.57), Skating On Thin Ice (4.54) The Mark of the Claw (5.02), A Salty Dog (4.49), Wizard Man (3.27), finishing with the unrecorded rarity, This Old Dog (3.50). Sadly, this was broadcast just before the beginning of the video era, so it is unlikely there are any video copies in private hands. As for whether the BBC still has its video, I just don't know.

One other non-BBC recorded In Concert programme still held by the BBC is the 1973 Hollywood Bowl Concert with The Los Angeles Philharmonic. Unfortunately this is an edited version of the concert to fit the approximately one hour time slot. Among the missing is In Held 'Twas In I a great loss. The broadcast contains: Broken Barricades (2.37), Simple Sister (4.35), A Christmas Camel (6.06), Toujours l'Amour (4.37), Grand Hotel (6.37), Fires Which Burn Brightly (5 35), A Salty Dog (4.27), Conquistador (4.13), Grand Finale (3.38) from In Held 'Twas In I; TV Ceasar (5.20), and to finish, a tremendous chorus of Rule Britannia (1.00). This is a superb recording with a wonderful atmosphere.

Please feel free to use any part or all of this letter. I got the idea of researching after seeing a list of what sessions Procol Harum did for the BBC in a book called, I think, In Sessions Tonight.


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