Procol Harum

the Pale

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'AWSoP' back at No 1 !

Claes Johansen

In December 1999 Claes Johansen sent BtP this piece about his fellow-Dane's PH success:

You may have heard the amazing news that Procol Harum's greatest hit ever once again has entered the No 1 position in the charts – the Danish charts, that is.

This time it is performed by local singer/bassist Flemming "Bamse" Jørgensen ("Bamse" means "Teddy Bear") and is performed purely with lead vocal and a string quartet. I dare say it is a very fine performance indeed from Bamse, who is a legendary singer in the Danish pop scene since the sixties.

"We didn't want to do a straight version," he told me. "We could never have matched the original, so we decided to go for something completely different. The situation was that I wanted to record an album of covers, sung in English. A Whiter Shade Of Pale was an obvious inclusion, since I have always loved Procol Harum and have all their records."

Bamse's love of all things Harum goes back to the sixties, when he was playing in a group called Les Marquis, who covered not only A Whiter Shade Of Pale but also Conquistador in their "live" repertoire. The group mainly played in clubs in Hamburg's notorious Reeperbahn district, billed alongside UK bands such as The Animals. In the mid-seventies, when Flemming's new group Bamses Venner ("Friends of Bamse") were immensely popular, he also released a cover of Homburg on a 7" single.

Bamse has a voice not too dissimilar to that of Gary Brooker, and quotes some of the same influences as our hero, particularly Little Richard. He puts these talents to good use throughout his new CD release, titled Stand By Me, which entered the Danish charts at No 2 in November, and then moved on to the No 1 spot. It has already sold in the excess of 100.000 copies – not bad on the basis of a mere 5 million population! All tracks are in English, sung with impeccable pronunciation.

"I'd like to record more of Procol Harum," says Bamse. "In that case it would be Shine On Brightly – a great, great song!"

Flemming "Bamse" Jørgensen, Stand By Me, RecArt / EMI Denmark 1999 is available from WWW.BoxMan.DK

(Thanks, Claes, and welcome aboard. Claes is of course the author of Beyond The Pale – The Story Of Procol Harum, SAF Publishing, London, available early 2000

Niels-Erik Mortensen writes to BtP
I really hate to correct my compatriot Claes. But the regrettable fact is however that Bamse's CD did not make it all the way to the top. Stand by Me came rushing in on the official IFPI-chart in mid-October as No 2, where it remained until last Sunday (5 Dec), when the record dropped to No 3. At the same time, the CD was rewarded with double platinum (ie 50,000 copies sold). I have waited in vain for the CD to climb to the top, but it didn't, I'm afraid. But next March, Bamse will perform all the songs from the album live in Copenhagen - that'll be the day!

The record eventually reached No 1 in February 2000 : see here

More about Bamse's AWSoP

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