Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's NME coverage ...

16 + 23 September, 7 + 21 October, 4 + 25 November 1972

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, show Procol Harum introducing Mick Grabham ('a charming person'), triumphing at the Rainbow, wowing Copenhagen, and touring Britain.

NME, September 16, 1972:

Front page headlines:

ELVIS SAYS 'NO' TO BRITAIN (big pic and story)

MOTT ON NEW LP Exclusive (pic of Ian Hunter)

ELP for the Oval



NME Top 5:

1. ( 2) Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Slade
2. ( 1) You Wear It Well, Rod Stewart
3. ( 3) Standing On The Road, Blackfoot Sue
4. ( 9) Sugar Me, Lynsey De Paul
5. (14) Virginia Plain, Roxy Music

British Albums:
1. ( 1) Never A Dull Moment, Rod Stewart
2. ( 2) Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel
3. ( 6) 20 Fantastic Hits, Various Artists
4. ( 3) School's Out, Alice Cooper
5. ( 5) The Slider, T.Rex

News pages:

New Procol Man
Mick Grabham, former guitarist with Cochise, has joined Procol Harum as the replacement for Dave Ball who has left to go with the Long John Baldry Band. Grabham makes his d閎ut with Harum on September 22 in their concert at London Rainbow with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pro-Arte Singers. It will be the first time the outfit has played with a full orchestra since they recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra late last year.

Main album reviews:
Bandstand, Family
Nervous On The Road, Brinsley Schwartz
All The Young Dudes, Mott The Hoople
Carney, Leon Russell
A Clockwork Orange, Walter Carlos
Rock Of Ages, The Band (from which I lift this quote from reviewer Ian MacDonald: 'Much as I like The Band and appreciate the thinking behind this, their latest move, I cannot in all honesty recommend a rock record which doesn't rock')

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
Children Of The Revolution, T.Rex
All Fall Down, Lindisfarne
The Guitar Man, Bread
There Are More Questions Than Answers, Johnny Nash
America, Simon & Garfunkel
Superwoman, Stevie Wonder
The City Of New Orleans, Arlo Guthrie
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile), Van Morrison
Geronimo's Cadillac, Michael Murphey

NME, September 23, 1972:

Front page headlines:

FREE'S KOSSOFF HURT: TOUR OFF (big pic of Kossoff and story)

NEW STILLS DATES (pic Stephen Stills and story)


NME Top 5:
1. ( 1) Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Slade
2. ( 2) You Wear It Well, Rod Stewart
3. (15) Children Of The Revolution, T.Rex
4. ( 7) It's Four In The Morning, Faron Young
5. ( 5) Virginia Plain, Roxy Music

British Albums:
1. ( 2) Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel
2. ( 1) Never A Dull Moment, Rod Stewart
3. ( 5) The Slider, T.Rex
4. ( 6) Slade Alive, Slade
5. ( 3) 20 Fantastic Hits, Various Artists

Main album reviews
Continuous Performance, Stone The Crows
Love It To Death, Alice Cooper (re-release)
Circles, New Seekers
Glorified Magnified, Manfred Mann's Earth Band
The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff etc.
Catch Bull At Four, Cat Stevens

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
Elected, Alice Cooper
Burning Love, Elvis Presley
In A Broken Dream, Python Lee Jackson
Witchy Woman, The Eagles
Elmo James, Chairmen Of The Board
Spam Song, Monthy Python's Flying Circus
Tomorrow's Dream, Black Sabbath
Freddie's Dead, Curtis Mayfield
Tight Rope, Leon Russell

Mid section:

Pictured left - the solemn face of Gary Brooker, vocalist, pianist and liturgical linkman of Procol Harum.

Procol, plus the Royal Philharmonic orchestra, play London's Rainbow on Friday (see below), featuring - we are informed - music from their Edmonton album.

Perhaps this time they'll score with the masses in the way that they should have. Years ago. Tony Tyler

and under

London Rainbow:
Procol Harum / Royal Philharmonic Orch.
Would you believe it's been over five years now and most people still can't spell "Procol Harum" - or is it "Procal Harem" or ... Brooker, Reid and Co. are still getting their own particular kind of boogaloo on, and it should be a good evening for the more solemnly-inclined - or even the more somnambulistically inclined. See pic above.

Procol Harum are also booked on Sunday at Liverpool Stadium and Monday at Newcastle City Hall, according to the NME.

No Procol-related stuff at all in the September 30 issue. But I have to mention the 1972 NME Musicians Poll where the paper asked 100 famous singers to name their Top 3 vocalists.

The winner was John Lennon, with Paul Rodgers (No. 2) and Bob Dylan (No. 3).

More interesting is it that none of the participants mention Gary Brooker. And worse still, NME did not included Gary among the 100 singers they asked.

In the corresponding Keyboard-players poll (NME October 14), Gary Brooker is not asked either (but Linda McCartney is). At least old Gary gets one single point:

1. Rod Argent
2. Nicky Hopkins
3. Gary Brooker

And Matthew Fisher? Now, who on earth is Matthew Fisher?

Keith Emerson won, by the way.

NME, October 7, 1972:

Front page headlines:

TEN YEARS AFTER TOUR DATES (big pic of Alvin Lee and story)

Jagger: 'Klein is a person to be avoided'

HENDRIX (story)




NME Top 5:
1. ( 2) How Can I Be Sure, David Cassidy
2. ( 5) Mouldy Old Dough, Lieutenant Pigeon
3. ( 1) Children Of The Revolution, T.Rex
4. ( 8) Wig Wam Bam, Sweet
5. ( 4) Too Young, Donny Osmond

British Albums:
1. ( 1) Never A Dull Moment, Rod Stewart
2. ( 2) Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel
3. ( 3) Close To The Edge, Yes
4. ( 4) Slade Alive, Slade
5. ( 5) Catch Bull At Four, Cat Stevens

Main album reviews:
Who Came First, Pete Townshend
Black Sabbath Vol. 4, Black Sabbath
Full Circle, The Doors
War Heroes, Jimi Hendrix
Sandy, Sandy Denny
Rock And Roll Music To The World, Ten Years After

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
Evil Ways, Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles
Claire, Gilbert O'Sullivan
How Does It Feel, Medicine Head
Tulsa Turnaround, Three Dog Night

NME's Musicians Poll, this time guitarplayers. Winner is Jimi Hendrix. Robin Trower is neither asked for his opinion, nor mentioned by anyone.


PROCOLS / RAINBOW (see also here)
If there's one band with the class and elegance to successfully combine on equal terms with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra then it had to be Procol Harum.

And as they proved so convincingly at the London Rainbow last Friday their dark, dramatic music has much to gain from such an ambitious enterprise.

Before Procol themselves took the stage the Philharmonic had a short warm-up session of their own, running through a bit of Vaughan Williams and Liszt, all of which was dutifully applauded by the audience.

After a short interval Procol appeared and, with Gary Brooker dressed in a dark blue navy jacket, launched into Shine on Brightly followed by Whaling Stories and a new one called Fires that Burn Brightly [sic].

Apart from just having to get used to the unusual sight of quite so many people on stage, at first it seemed the combination between band, orchestra and Pro Arte singers was a little shaky, partly due to an uneven balance.

But by the time they all moved into the heavy chords of Simple Sister, Procol had firmly taken control, with the orchestra providing just the right amount of colouring.

From then on things worked smoothly, especially on Conquistador, the magnificent Salty Dog, and a magnificent new piece called Grand Hotel, 'bringing back all the grandeur of former times,' according to Brooker yet with the slightly chaotic, wayward feel inherent in so many of their numbers.

At times the whole concept threatened to become almost too grandiose, too melodramatic, but with new member Mick Grabham obviously quite at home and cutting through with some ringing guitar work, there were some breathtaking moments as well, especially during the extended In Held 'Twas in I.

And, even after two encores, the band and orchestra won one of the longest rounds of applause I've heard in some time.

James Johnson

NME, October 21, 1972

Front page headlines:


Way and Monkman quitting (big pic and story)


CASSIDY, Oh dear, what's David saying about the Partridge Family?

SANTANA, Album review, more concert dates


FAMILY, NME takes them back home

NME Top 5:
1. ( 1) Mouldy Old Dough, Lieutenant Pigeon

2. ( 3) I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock'n'Roll), Gary Glitter
3. ( 4) You're A Lady, Peter Skellern
4. ( 5) Wig Wam Bam, Sweet
5. ( 8) Burning Love, Elvis Presley

British Albums:
1. ( 3) Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel
2. ( 1) Never A Dull Moment, Rod Stewart
3. ( 2) Catch Bull At Four, Cat Stevens
4. ( 6) Black Sabbath Vol. 4, Black Sabbath
5. ( 4) Close To The Edge, Yes

Main album reviews
Caravanserai, Santana
Three Separate Fools, Three Dog Night
Rock'n'Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones (compilation)
Elephant's Memory, Elephant's Memory
Turkey, Wild Turkey
Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds, Randy California

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
I Don't Believe In Miracles, Colin Bluntstone
I'll Be Around, Detroit Spinners
Oh Girl, Main Attraction

NME's Musicians' Poll concludes with the bass players and drummers.

No surprises in the Bass section: Paul McCartney wins. Here's Cartwright's opinion:

Procul (sic) Harum
1. Rick Danko
2. James Jaimeson

The drummers, then. Well, the NME did actually ask BJ Wilson his opinion:
Procol Harum
1. Levon Helm
2. Kenneth Buttrey
3. Russ Kunkel

And he gets some points as well, because all-girl band Fanny obviously likes Procol Harum.

1. BJ Wilson
2. Bernard Price
3. Charlie Watts


1. Ringo Starr
2. Levon Helm
3. B.J. Wilson

Winner: Buddy Rich.


To me, it's one of life's minor mysteries that Procol Harum isn't a lot bigger at home in England. At present, they are touring Scandinavia, and Thursday night they played two concerts at Copenhagen Falconercenter to more than 3,000 enthusiastic fans.

And they are just unique. They are completely on their own; it's one of the most personality packed bands ever from the beginning to the end. They play the music we know and love, classical inspired as always, featuring keyboard men Gary Brooker on piano and Chris Copping on organ. And, though the music is so very well known and practically without any surprises at all - because they so easily transform their record-sound to stage - it's a thrilling experience every time, because the music is so unique.

Gary 'The Voice' Brooker introduced a few selections from their forthcoming LP, called Grand Hotel, some in the well-known style. But the title track was a bit different, humorous and old fashioned - almost waltzing in parts.

But the very highlight of the performance was the last ten minutes or so: a tremendous live version of the Autumn bit of In Held 'Twas In I. One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, and, played live just as exciting as on the record.
George Sorensen

(the gossip column that once was called Tail-Pieces)

... reversing British sequence, Procol Harum re-releasing Whiter Shade Of Pale in US to follow up Conquistador success ...

"Teasers" returns with another one-liner next week, October 28:

... Steeleye Span and Procol Harum touring the States, November ...

NME, November 4, 1972 includes a huge pull-out poster covering 20 Years of Chart History. Here Derek Johnson presents The points table chart of charts 1952-72, The Top 500 artists, ranked by points awarded on the weekly Top 30 (30 points for a No. 1, down to 1 point for a No. 30).

The Top 5:
1. Elvis Presley 13,762 points
2. Cliff Richard 9,555 points
3. The Beatles 6,555 points
4. Frankie Laine 5,868 points
5. Lonnie Donegan 4,856 points
201. Procol Harum 572 points

NME, November 25, 1972:

Front page headlines:

NEW LONDON ROCK BAN (big pic of Roger Chapman of Family and story)

LENNON (small pic)



Cassidy Concerts (smal pic and story)

NME Top 5:
1. ( 2) My Ding-A-Ling, Chuck Berry
2. ( 1) Clair, Gilbert O'Sullivan
3. ( 8) Crazy Horses, The Osmonds
4. ( 5) Why, Donny Osmond
5. ( 4) Leader Of The Pack, Shangri-Las

British Albums
1. ( 4) Back To Front, Gilbert O'Sullivan
2. ( 1) Greatest Hits, Simon & Garfunkel
3. ( 3) Catch Bull At Four, Cat Stevens
4. ( 5) Never A Dull Moment, Rod Stewart
5. ( 2) 20 All Time Greates Of The 50s, Various Artists

Main album reviews:
Journey Through The Past, Neil Young (preview)
Homecoming, America
Back To Front, Gilbert O'Sullivan
Still Bill, Bill Withers
Slayed, Slade
Why Dontcha, West Bruce & Laing
The Musician's Birthday, Uriah Heep
Diamonds In The Rough, John Prine
One Man Dog, James Taylor
Crazy Horses, The Osmonds

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
The Jean Genie, David Bowie
Happy Xmas (War Is Over), John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band
Solid Gold Easy Action, T. Rex
I'll Take You Home, The Drifters
Walk On The Wild Side, Lou Reed
I'm On My Way To A Better Place, Chairmen Of The Board
Celluloid Heroes, The Kinks
Knock Three Times, Dawn
Meat, Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Steeleye shine on Harum tour
by Jim Smith, Toronto

Chris Copping, BJ Wilson and Mick Grabham of Procol Harum were sitting around the lounge of the Buffalo Holiday Inn. This writer, who had driven over to hear Procol in concert with Steeleye Span and Tir Na Nog, noticed that Wilson was a bit under the weather (his complexion resembled that of a beached whale).

Maybe it was Wilson's illness, maybe it was just being in Buffalo (neither the worst nor the best of the American-Canadian border towns), or perhaps having to play two concerts in one evening, but Procol were not inspired.

It was virtually the same set the band delivered five months ago in Toronto's O'Keefe Centre, but there was all the difference in the world in the performance.

Not that it was anything one could put a finger on - these things never are. Just a general feeling that something wasn't right.

On the other hand, the audience response was not the type to prod a band into bigger and better things, though. All three bands were received politely (the audience was obviously enjoying itself) but none was called back for an encore.

Procol played two encores as much out of habit as from demand, while Tir Na Nog and Steeleye Span simply left the stage without any attempt at encores. The remarkable thing about all this was that Steeleye Span had the audience in the palm of their collective hand for the entire set.

The real value of the concerts, then, besides the opportunity to size up Steeleye and Tir Na Nog, was the introduction to Mick Grabham, Procol's newest guitarist - their fourth, replacing Dave Ball.

Grabham struck me as being quite a competent guitarist though, of course, it is hard to tell how good a guitarist when he uses someone else's style (he's locked into the Procol sound that has been handed down from guitarist to guitarist) even though it's not his fault.

He stood out nicely on the newer material, where he had a chance to display some new ideas. But too often during the night he was hampered by equipment problems. (If it matters, Grabham is a charming person, one of the nicer musicians I have met).

The other group members are definitely impressed by Grabham, so much so that they have decided to re-record all the completed tracks on their Grand Hotel album using Grabham instead of Ball.

Steeley are undoubtedly the most refreshing band it has been my pleasure to hear in many months. Where I cannot enjoy Procol (though, I hasten to add, I sincerely admire the group), I find Steeleye absolutely charming ...

(Rest of article concerns itself with Steeleye Span and Tir Na Nog.)

Not enough to plunder this issue of NME for charts and quotes, but enough to get a mention:

In the NME, December 16, the NME reviewers get to pick the LPs and singles of the year. Of the eight writers, only Tony Stewart includes Procol Harum in his list:

PROCOL HARUM. Live At Edmonton (Chrysalis).

Tony Stewart more or less single-handedly put Procol Harum back in the NME on a regular basis, although his knowledge of the band left something to be desired (check the review of the A Whiter Shade Of Pale / A Salty Dog re-issue).


The Mammoth Task: Yan's extracts from the first 52 weeks of Procol press in the NME

Swimming Against the Tide: Yan's extracts from the remaining ten years of Procol press in the NME

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home