Procol Harum

the Pale

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A Whiter Shade of Pale

Henry Scott-Irvine's broadcast, 26 April 2009

Henry Scott-Irvine entertained for sixty minutes about A Whiter Shade of Pale, from 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm GMT, live on London's excellent Resonance FM (listen online). His talk was entitled Psychedelia, Toilet Paper, Marriage, Death and Litigation. As well as lots of related music, interview-clips from the song's writers, and comments by celebs from politics and the Arts, he re-broadcast the 1967 Radio London clip by which the world first heard Procol Harum. The programme was amiably homespun, with a number of lacunae and a miscue thanks to Resonance's technical operators, but Henry was clear, interesting and uncontroversial: he generously aired some excellent soundclips from his (still unseen) film about the famous record. Click here to hear the show again from Henry's own site.

Henry's opening remarks
Reggae version of AWSoP with many words incorrect
(e-connection dropped, so back-announcement was missed: it was probably Pat Kelly)
How the Rolling Stones praised The Paramounts
Poison Ivy played in full
Paramounts split: enter 'scenester' Guy Stevens who loves Hammond organ records
Henry plays the fine If You Can't Sit Down (Phil Upchurch Combo)
About Guy Stevens's friend's cat, Procul Harun.
Brooker / Reid want to write for Dusty Springfield
Understandably Blue gets its broadcast début (from the Salvo album)
Henry plugs the Fly / Salvo re-issue album, 'out this week', and directs buyers to Amazon
How Gary and Keith formed Procol Harum; Matthew Fisher auditioned and later joined up. Denny Cordell made some demos
A&R man Tony Hall talks about finding AWSoP and loving it; Cordell's insecurity about its hit potential
Another exclusive: from 42 years ago, the début of AWSoP, as broadcast on Radio London (click to hear)
Mark Roman, talking at top speed, praises DERAM at length, then plays the record (spells P-r-o-c-o-l H-a-r-u-m out carefully), inviting the public to contact him to say what they think of it.
Matthew Fisher, talking about how Decca didn't want to release the record, too dreary etc; then recapping the Radio London clip above
Tony Hall again, talking about insisting on having AWSoP on every programme he DJd for Radio Luxembourg
Gary Brooker, on how UK sales were encouraging after a week, and how he was mobbed ('not by beautiful French women') when he went to Paris as the record hit No 1 there
Henry with statistics ... AWSoP No 1 in Venezuela for six months
Henry talks about the Bach influence in the record
Gary talks about the Hamlet cigar advertisements on British TV at the time
Henry plays a snippet from Jacques Loussier's Air on the G string from Play Bach volume 2
Also plays an orchestral version, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, on Decca Records, from 1967
How Denny Cordell wanted GB to 'sing like a psychedelic Percy Sledge'
Henry plays When Man Loves a Woman
Alan Parker (who cast GB in Evita) speaks about Brooker's individuality as a 'totally and utterly unique' vocalist
Was AWSoP written as a poem? Keith Reid explains that good poems usually don't make good songs.
Henry asks Alan Parker what the words actually mean; Parker explains that 'you have the same discussion every five years', but doesn't address the question.
Where does Keith's inspiration come from? Henry plays a clip from Guy Stevens's widow, about how Guy coined the phrase, 'A whiter shade of pale'
Clip of Jimmy Page praising AWSoP
Ray Connolly explains how the Beatles heard and esteemed the song (Matthew Fisher's clip resurfaces briefly by accident) at The Speakeasy, just behind Oxford Street in London
AWSoP as wedding theme for Tony Blair, Cyndi Lauper, and their respective spouses; Joe Orton is buried to it; it features in The Big Chill.
Michael Howard, QC, says it's 'a remarkable piece of music'. Henry mentions its use in a toilet-paper commercial.
'It's part of a four-year accreditation feud'. Henry names the participants in the recent House of Lords hearing. 'Sadly this legal battle is likely to continue'
Michael Howard, QC, explains that the 'squabble' is sad (clip here)
Henry talks about AWSoP in The Boat That Rocked and in Withnail and I: he plays the excellent King Curtis live AWSoP from the Fillmore West, 1971
Henry namechecks 'Out on the Floor' record shop, then plays Les Orgues d'Antan by Charlotte Rampling look-alike Nicoletta
Henry plays Percy Sledge's cover, in which Percy 'tries to sing like Gary Brooker'
Namecheck for 'Beyond the Pale' (thanking RC for supplying the Sledge cover, something he doesn't remember doing) which is 'available online'!
Thanks to Resonance, Tim Abbott and John Brett
Once again we reprise the original ... sung by Gary Brooker ... another plug for the Salvo album.

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