Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale 

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'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'

One More Time



 
Album: The Prodigal Stranger (1991), One More Time (2000) Authors: Brooker / Fisher / Reid Read the words
Performed: frequently at first Cover-versions: none

The engaging drum opening and Hammond flourish usher in 'kind of a blues shuffle in more or less in G minor' as Gary Brooker has called this song in concert. Despite its adoption album title-track, this may actually be one of the most un-Procol Harum like offerings by the band. Its blues-derivative form is neither classically leavened, nor imitative of the delta variety unlike earlier pastiches such as Juicy John Pink: in some senses it harks right back to the experimental nature of the early Alpha a song Brooker and Reid abandoned for 28 years!

Its apparent simplicity and ingenuous 6/8 rhythm belies some ingenious harmonic construction: after conventioanal explorations of the home key, with a suitably funky major/minor seventh on the dominant, the verse sets about climbing stepwise from C minor towards an expected climax in B flat, the related major key. This is cunningly subverted by a dive to a B flat minor (the vocal pitching the fourth of that chord!), while the ensuing chord sequence implies a resolution in D flat (the most distant key from G minor) that never comes! The end-of-verse harmonic climb is extended by one tone in the final verse so that the final chorus (and playout) are a tone higher than we've earlier heard them. None of this would be easy for an inexperienced vocalist to pitch, yet it sounds very natural in performance.

Drama is inserted by the heavily anticipated accents at the ends of lines in the verses ('and take a look'), and by Trower's guitar soaring over the rest of the ensemble. The guitar takes a solo in his classic style, despite a sprinkle of string harmonics that one would not have expected on the early albums. Less Procolian altogether are the AOR wailing male and female vocals, the abrupt fade just as Brooker starts to let rip, and of course the words themselves which are hung together with facile end-of-line rhymes and little semblance of allusion, symbolism or wider resonance.

The surface 'old flame' reading of the song might be taken, as with Brooker's Give Me Something To Remember You By, as a request for one last act of sexual congress before the erstwhile lovers part forever. The phrase 'one more time' is common in song titles and texts (in the chorus of no less a smash than Britney Spears's Hit Me Baby in fact) but it is not in common conversational usage ... though 'one more time' does occur as a sardonic spoken aside in George Harrison's Piggies (incidentally featuring harspichord from Chris Thomas) on the Beatles' White Album.

The song was performed regularly during the 1991-2 promotional gigs, though less frequently since and certainly not since 1995. The live version on the album of the same name seems to be a faithful copy of the studio arrangement, thought a few minor word changes occur: "I'm feeling kinda different now, I remember how you were"



 
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