These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, show Procol Harum playing some much-needed British dates, but their 'half-hearted' single has pub-rock and the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody to contend with.
NME, November 1, 1975
Front page headlines:
Don't despair ... If Tina Turner can do it so can you (big
pic of Tina)
Knives out at BBC as Oldfield row flares
The Report, Pub Rock '75
Procol Harum headline a short British concert tour, starting late November. Six dates have so far been confirmed, but it is expected that one or two more will be added.
They visit Southampton University (November 28), Leicester University (29), Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall (December 2), Swansea University (4), Sheffield University (5) and Manchester U.M.I.S.T. (6).
Just back from their latest visit to America, Harum tour Scandinavia from November 7 to 20. Then immediately following their British gigs, they play concerts in France, Holland and Belgium. A spokesman said this week that plans are being laid for the band to undertake a more extensive British tour in the New Year. Meanwhile, their new single Final Thrust - taken from their current album Procol's Ninth - has been released this week. It is on the Chrysalis label.
NME Top 5
1. ( 1) I Only Have Eyes For You, Art Garfunkel
2. ( 6) Space Oddity, David Bowie
3. ( 3) Feelings, Morris Albert
4. ( 5) There Goes My First Love, Drifters
5. ( 2) Hold Me Close, David Essex
1. ( 2) Atlantic Crossing, Rod Stewart
2. ( 5) 40 Golden Greats, Jim Reeves
3. ( 1) Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
4. ( 4) Favourites, Peters & Lee
5. ( 3) All The Fun Of The Fair, David Essex
Main single reviews by Peter Erskine:
Robert Palmer, Which Of us Is The Fool
Gary Glitter, Papa Oom Mow Mow
Andy Fairweather-Low, Wide Eyed And Legless
Joe Cocker, It's All Over But The Shoutin'
Todd Rundgren, Real Man
Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
PROCOL HARUM: The Final Thrust (Chrysalis), Homburg (Cube).
I don't care how much Gary Brooker denies it, the last few P. Harum albums have sounded particularly re-cycled because he and Reid have a tendency to structure all their songs the same way. The Final Thrust is set in classic dance time and sounds like classic 'B' side material, i.e. half-hearted. Worse still, the hole has been drilled off centre making the mellotron sound extremely sick.
Homburg, desipte its initial spurning as follow-up to Whiter Shade of Pale, is a much stronger song.
Main album reviews:
Mike Oldfield, Ommadawn
Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey
Deep Purple, Come Taste The Band
John Lennon, Shaved Fish
NME, November 8, 1975
Half page ad for The Final Thrust.
NME, November 15, 1975:
HARUM & MAN FOR OLYMPIA
A series of major rock concerts is to be staged in London's giant Olympia Grand Hall at the turn of the year, under the banner The Great British Music Festival ...
... Thursday, January 1 (1-11 p.m.): Procol Harum, Baker-Gurvitz Army, Man, John Miles, Jack The Lad and Snafu.
NME, November 22, 1975
Front page headlines:
100 historic Stones albums to be won
Plus flashbacks to the Stones U.S. tour (big pic of Mick & Keith)
Bowie 6-day London season
6-page platters spread
Neil Young, Queen, Patti Smith
Procol set concerts in New Year
Procol Harum, who set out at the end of this month on a short university tour, are to undertake a major concert tour at the beginning of the New Year.
As reported last week, they are set for a headlining appearance at London Olympia on New Year's Day as part of the Great British Music festival, and promoter Adrian Hopkins of Chrysalis has now confirmed the band for a string of provincial dates.
They play Bristol Colston Hall (January 3), Cardiff Capitol (4), Portsmouth Guildhall (5), Middlesbrough Town Hall (7), Nottingham Albert Hall (8), Birmingham Town Hall (9) and Oxford New Theatre (11). There is a strong probability that at least one more date will be added to this itinerary.
Immediately after playing these dates, Procol fly out to begin the second half of their European tour - visiting Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. They have also been invited to play a series of concerts in Poland, which they are considering favourably, since it is an unusual territory for a rock band to visit.
NME Top 5:
1. ( 4) D.I.V.O.R.C.E., Billy Connolly
2. ( 1) Space Oddity, David Bowie
3. ( 6) Love Hurts, Jim Capaldi
4. ( 2) Love Is The Drug, Roxy Music
5. (11) Imagine, John Lennon
1. ( 1) 40 Golden Greats, Jim Reeves
2. ( 3) 40 Greatest Hits, Perry Como
3. ( 4) Rock Of The Westies, Elton John
4. ( 2) Siren, Roxy Music
5. ( 5) Peters & Lee Favourites, Peters & Lee
Main single reviews by Ian MacDonald:
Little Feat, Mercenary Territory / Long Distance
Sailor, A Glass Of Champagne
ABBA, Mama Mia
David Bowie, Golden Years
Slade, Can You Imagine
Mud, Show Me You're A Woman
Mike Oldfield, On Horseback
Main album reviews:
Patti Smith, Horses
Eno, Another Green World
Queen, A Night At The Opera
Supertramp, Crisis? What Crisis?
Neil Young, Zuma
Rory Gallagher, Against The Grain
Renaissance, Scheherazade And Other Stories
Centre spread two page ad for Great British Music Festival
NME, November 29, 1975
On The Town
The Main Hotspots - Nov. 27 To Dec. 3
Procol Harum are another band who don't believe in outwearing their welcome on the British stage. So it's a rare occurence to find that they're playing short concert tours both before and after Christmas. The first leg of their travels opens on Friday in Southampton, then visits Leicester (Saturday) and Tunbridge Wells (Tuesday). Catch them while you can, because it's not very often you get the opportunity of seeing Procol performing live on stage.
NME, December 13, 1975:
Christmas approaching, and Chrysalis does a round of teaser-ads on all their main album releases of 1975. Procol's Ninth being one of them.
The NME staff names albums of the year, Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks winning. Procol Harum is nowhere to be seen, of course, although Steve Clarke at least mentions the album among some of those that didn't make his Top 10.
NME, December 20, 1975
Another ad for The Great British Music Festival.
NME, December 27, 1975
Nationwide Gig Guide
Music Festival hits Olympia
Procol Harum, Barclay James Harvest, Baker-Gurvitz Army, Jack The Lad, Jon Miles (sic), Snafu
So that was 1975 then, and we can all see where our heroes are heading. They blew it in '74. A good album, but badly timed concert tours. In 1975 everything was well timed, but the album was simply not very good. I sense both disillusion and desperation in that interview Brooker and Reid gave the NME.
And while Procol Harum had made what must be their worst album ever, the music scene in the US and Britain was rapidly changing.
Patti Smith had arrived. The pub rock scene in Britain was giving birth to loads of the following years' new wave and punk acts.
And then there was Bruce Springsteen, and Dylan's comeback, and Bob Marley.
All very exciting.
For the first time in their career, Procol Harum seemed left behind.
Another thing. All through the years, from '63 and well into the 70s, the NME had regular columns (under changing names) where current stars listed all their favourite bands and singles and songs and so on. Never once did I see anybody mention Procol Harum. Now that is a mystery to me ...
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