Procol Harum

the Pale

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'A Whiter Shade of Pale'

Three notes, on a cover by any other name

Yan Friis writes to BtP:
A not-so-well-known cover-version of A Whiter Shade Of Pale can be found on Those Who Are About To Die Salute You, the début album from Colosseum, British jazz / blues / rock-outfit consisting of Jon Hiseman (drums), Dick Heckstall-Smith (Tenor & Soprano Sax), Dave Greenslade (Organ & Vocals), Tony Reeves (Bass Guitar) and James Litherland (Vocals & Guitar).

The album was recorded winter 1968 / 69, and released spring 1969. It was recently released on CD by Castle Communications. The booklet contains the original liner notes by Jon Hiseman. Hiseman has also written a short update for this CD release. And there are some short comments on each track.

The one of interest here is Beware The Ides Of March. I quote:

'A maniac version of a Bach chord sequence featuring Dave and James who lead us into a shattering experience.'

What we really get, however, is an instrumental version of A Whiter Shade Of Pale, the first two minutes played beautifully smooth, with soft soloing from the sax, and then the organ, before the track erupts into some free-form jamming, typical for '69, but not very impressive today. The track ends with another half minute of the Pale chord sequence.

Hiseman calls it Bach, but you can actually sing the words of AWSoP to it, chorus and all. So why don't they own up? Well, better to say it was a Bach chord sequence they improvised on, and then claim the composer credits for themselves, rather than having to pay Brooker / Reid for the trip.

Thanks, Yan

'I have a live bootleg, where [Colosseum] play AWSoP, and a second bootleg where they just play excerpts from it inside one of their songs.' Miguel Terol.

Read with great interest about the Colosseum cover of A Whiter Shade Of Pale. It gets even more interesting when you consider the US version of Those Who Are About To Die Salute You was quite different. It was actually a combination of songs from the British albums Those Who Are About To Die Salute You and Valentyne Suite.

The song Valentyne Suite itself actually appeared on this American release, but with the Whiter Shade of Pale movement tacked on to the end of it instead of The Grass Is Greener theme (as it was originally arranged on the British version of Valentyne Suite)!

Thought you guys might find this interesting!

Gary Ortlieb

More Procol Harum cover versions

Colosseum play Budapest 2004 : Procol Harum don't


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