Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Band Breakdown

Richard Williams & Mark Plummer in Melody Maker

Melody Maker, 24 March 1973: Britain's hitherto most-respected music weekly published a particularly confused and badly-edited two-page spread about Procol Harum in their 'Band Breakdown' series. Numerous copy errors conspired with the incorrect identification of some players and their instruments, and photographs dropped into the wrong articles, to make the piece seem at the time no more than a disappointing shambles (read a letter of complaint touching on this!)

Nevertheless, each member of the band confided some items of interest, as the transcripts linked below will show.
Gary Brooker interview
Keith Reid interview
Mick Grabham interview
Chris Copping interview
BJ Wilson interview
Alan Cartwright interview

The piece also featured a garbled discography in which Homburg supposedly came out on Deram, and in which Procol Harumcame out two years after A Salty Dog and a summary of the band's equipment: this had the most comical mistakes, including references to BJ's 'large cow-drum' and 'snare cymbals'.

The feature began with the following blurb:

"Mantovani covered it, dance bands played it in ballrooms and trannies blasted it throughout the summer of 67.

"A Whiter Shade of Pale had to happen: it was commercial acid that was palatable to a mass audience. Keith Reid's lyrics were brilliant, they explored the avenues of the mind and Gary Brooker's haunting music was full of despair and as moody as could be.

"But that song slowly strangled Procol. The group disintegrated and by the time they recorded home only Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and BJ Wilson were left from the original [sic] band.

"Nothing they've done since has compared with the phenomenal success of A Whiter Shade of Pale and over the past six years they've been playing mostly in America.

"That is until last year, when they took the biggest gamble of their life and released a live album cut with the Edmonton Symphony orchestra in Canada. It cost a fortune to record, but it did the trick. With a symphony orchestra Procol regained the stature they had initially.

"Yet following its success Procol went through more changes. Dave Ball left to follow a solo career and Mick Grabham joined.

"Last week Procol released their finest album yet. Grand Hotel sums up their music perfectly, it is Grand and every bit as stimulating and powerful as the Edmonton album. Procol Harum at their finest ... and you'll not find better than that!"

 More Procol Harum history in print

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