Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum picture sleeves

'Vier Grossen Hits' • Germany, 1972?

Record 1:  
A: Conquistador
B: Homburg

Record 2: 
A: A Whiter Shade of Pale 
B: A Salty Dog

Cube 2607403


(thanks, Lars)

After a tour in Germany in 1966 Gary Brooker left the Paramounts. In London Brooker met the lyricist (and ex-tailor) Keith Reid. Through an advertisement they tried to find other players. The guitarist Ray Royer, bass-player David Knights, drummer Bobby Harrison and the organ player Matthew Fisher responded.

Their first recording, A Whiter Shade of Pale, released in the spring of 1967, became a worldwide hit 'changing the face of pop music' (according to Disc). The melancholy song, based on the theme of a Bach cantata, stayed at number 1 in the English charts for eight weeks and was in the top 5 in the USA. (In 1972 the title was re-released and again reached the top ten). Shortly after that Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison left the band and were replaced by Robin Trower (guitar) and BJ Wilson (drums). A second single Homburg was released in 1967, which also reached the English and American charts and gave the band their second gold disc.

In 1968, after they had toured America twice, Procol Harum played live in Germany for the first time (they were staged on 9 March in Beat Club).

The song Conquistador was included on their first album released in 1967. Only in 1972 it was released as a single. [Translator's note: Not only the live version, but the studio version as well, because Cube records tried to gain some profit of the huge success of the live version, hence Conquistador is the first title on the sleeve!]

In the early summer of 1969 they released A Salty Dog, one of the few pop compositions which was recorded without a guitar. ‘A Salty Dog is the start,’ wrote Disc, ‘of what is nowadays called "symphonic rock"’.The reviewer Mark Plummer wrote in Melody Maker (1972 ): "If  I could choose a song as the perfect product of pop-culture it would be A Salty Dog.

In the summer of 1969 Procol Harum formed a new line-up: Gary Brooker (piano, vocals), Robin Trower (guitar), Chris Copping (organ, bass) and BJ Wilson (drums) – in 1971 Robin Trower left the band, Dave Ball (guitar) and Alan Cartwright (bass) joined. In 1972 Mick Grabham replaced Dave Ball. The writers of almost all Procol Harum songs are Brooker/Reid. Keith Reid loves to describe dark visions with subtle word games; the composer Gary Brooker loves to write in minor and slow tempi. Therefore their work shows an atmosphere of resignation and sadness. Furthermore, Procol Harum can be counted as one of the first groups to employ two keyboards.

(Many thanks to Fred Schröter for this translation ... neither
the text nor the target language being his native tongue)

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