Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'

All Our Dreams are Sold


Albums: The Prodigal Stranger (1991),
One More Time (2000)

Authors: Brooker / Trower / Reid

 Read the words

Performed: initially

Cover-versions: none known

This medium-paced rocker (in the Trower-friendly key of G minor) was performed regularly on the promotional tours of 1991Ė92 for the Prodigal Stranger. Apart from an appearance at Southend in 1993 it seemed then to vanish from the repertoire, though Keith Reid fancied the words enough to include them in his book, My Own Choice. When Frans Steensma asked Gary Brooker in 1992 why Zoo chose such a guitar-dominated, un-Procolian song for the first promo single from The Prodigal Stranger, GB claimed that Zoo thought (after long consideration Ė they asked a lot of other people) this to be the track that best tallied with chart sounds at the time (late 1991). As early as 10 August 1991 All Our Dreams Are Sold made its entrance in Billboard Album Rock Tracks (# 47). It climbed to '#34 the next week, then 29, fell to 34 and disappeared after the final listing on September 7 (#. 33): this was disappointing, since it had been heavily promoted on the radio stations by Zoo. Billboard reviewed the album the day All Our Dreams Are Sold had its final showing in the Album Rock Tracks, contradicting Zoo's opinion absolutely: ĎThe Truth Wonít Fade Away, One More Time and A Dream In Ev'ry Home sound like best radio starters.í After this Zoo quickly released The Truth Wonít Fade Away (with its expensive video) for the public Ö but the damage had been done.

The introduction, bearing a passing resemblance to the 1981 hit by Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime, is spare and echoey, with overtones of Strangers in Space, albeit with much more sophisticated synthesiser work; at Boston in 1992, as at Southend 1993, Brooker teasingly offered a glimpse of Nirvana, uttering 'In the darkness of the night Ö' during the preliminaries. At Boston it was used as first encore; at some 1991 shows the band used it as an opening number, moody and enigmatic as perhaps befitted an unknown quantity, eschewing their more revered 'belter' opening songs. Nonetheless it requires terrific vocal fitness to bring it off, sitting at the piano. Geoff Whitehorn always had a lot of fun playing this song, throwing his very best efforts into the introduction.

The verse is extremely unusual in Procoldom for the number of bars it spends on one chord. The song rides on Bronze's bass (which grew sprightly on the road, evolving from the studio's four-square pattern), and apart from the guitar solos and a brief flurry of piano near the end there are few striking instrumental moments on the original record, though Fisher's organ elaborations contribute a lot on the live version, recorded at Utrecht and produced by Matthew himself. The jerky rhythm to which the title-phrase is set is unusual in the Brooker canon. Trower admitted in 1991: ĎItís the first song Iíve written in many, many years that wasnít for one of my own things. In other words it was for somebody else really. Although itís me thatís playing it I knew I had to come up with not a Robin Trower song, a Procol Harum song. That made it a kind of fascinating thing to work on.í The only other song with this combination of authors is Too Much Between Us, also apparently tracking a British aspiration in an American world: they could scarcely be more different!


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