Procol Harum

the Pale

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An S–O–S to Procol collectors

Help finish Henry Scott-Irvine's film

Redhill veterans will need no reminding of the excellent 35-minute film, It was Thirty Years Ago Today, that was shown as part of the Redhill celebrations eleven months ago. (BtP has a rough summary of its contents for those who were not able to attend)

That film was a rough cut, a work-in-progress version of Henry's magnum opus, the history of A Whiter Shade of Pale, which is still in preparation, and into which he has been pouring his own money, skill and time. This web-page suggests ways in which 'Beyond the Pale' visitors might be able to help bring the project to a triumphant conclusion.

Henry hopes to sell the film in its eventual form to television, and perhaps to video companies, as a one-hour feature. It will be considerably changed from the Redhill version: the long sequence of the orchestra playing AWSoP, for instance, will have to go (too many players to pay royalties to!) and many of the archive sequences will be retained only if the copyright clearances can be obtained, country-by-country, for the territories in which the film will eventually be shown. And it will contain at least one red-hot film-rarity from 1967 that none of us has ever seen in any form before!

'Beyond the Pale' understands that the film (whose title will obviously need changing!) is at the moment 'optioned' by Initial Television, who have a year in which to interest broadcasting companies in buying it, and, of course, in which to raise the necessary money and finish it. There is therefore a very realistic prospect of success for the venture.

[Nonetheless there may be wealthy fans out there who would be interested in buying shares in this enterprise: please mail us in the strictest confidence and we will put you in touch with Henry for details. This is not a flippant suggestion, by the way: films do get financed by enthusiasts in exactly this way, and there are some solvent PH fans in the world (the band's brief Portuguese fling in the mid-90s was privately financed, we understand!)]

So how can non-wealthy fans help? There are three categories of material that Henry is still looking for, in respect of which he feels that the combined fanbase might be able to put finishing touches to his own, extensive research over the years:

Still Photographs
If you are in possession of still photographs of the early period (1967 – 1969) of the band to which you own the rights – that is, of photographs whose negatives you own, and which have not been published before, please mail us and we shall put you in touch with Henry Scott-Irvine. There wouldn't be much money in this for you, of course – but there would be the potential satisfaction of seeing your pictures in the film, and helping a grand Procol project get completed.

Archive Footage
Henry wants to know (a) if you've ever seen and (b) if you could track down a copy of archive footage (either professional or amateur) of Procol Harum in action at any of the following rock festivals (this may be of particular relevance to Canadian / North American fans):

Miami Festival, Hallandale, Florida

  28 December 1968

Palm Springs, California

  6 April 1969


  22 June 1969

Atlantic City, New Jersey

  1 August 1969

Woodstock II


Atlanta Pop Festival, Byron, Georgia


Isle of Wight Festival (in addition to the Murray Lerner footage of PH, which has never been shown)

  28 July 1970

There may also be film of Fillmore shows that has survived the fire in Bill Graham's archive: any ideas? And how about television shows? Did PH really play the Smothers Brothers show, and has anybody got access to the early Carson show and David Frost show that they are reputed to have played? We understand that Henry has made very exhaustive enquiries in all the likely film archives – he has been in the rock archive profession a long time – which is why he is particularly putting out his SOS to the private collectors now. If you are able to help in any way – if you or your contacts worked in the industry and were able to 'liberate' any material of which the official copies were subsequently destroyed, for example – please mail us.

Cover Versions
If the appropriate mechanical copyright clearances could be obtained, Henry would like the film to contain a 'performance' of A Whiter Shade of Pale segued together from many varied cover versions.

There are many covers, however, that he has not been able to obtain, and 'Beyond the Pale' visitors are asked to contact us if they own, and are willing to help out with, any of the versions listed below with Scott-Irvine annotations. (The exact means of assistance would have to be individually worked out).

 King Curtis



  Studio album – name unknown to Henry.

King Curtis



  Live At The Fillmore East – Atco (Atlantic) Records

Long since deleted and unavailable on CD in the UK: Henry considers this the definitive cover. Fine saxophone playing here in this instrumental version from the late King Curtis – genius of sax. The above cut also appeared in the film Withnail & I.



1967 / 8

  A French version 'from the tr่s belle chanteuse who sings with full Piaf – meets-Fran็oise Hardy French soul gusto with the full mouton: "meh meh"'.

Alton Ellis


1967 / 8

  A 'Rock Steady' / reggae version with no respect to the original lyrics, but quite FAB

Percy Sledge



  Released and deleted within two weeks, on Stax / Volt (Atlantic), Henry believes. It also slipped out by accident on a 1970s compilation which when discovered was subsequently deleted. Apparently this a quite brill version!

Re-recorded by Percy in 1991 / 2 in LA as a quite dire syrupy technically muso piece of sterile perfection.

Shorty Long



  From the Prime of Shorty Long Album, STML 11144

Gerry & The Pacemakers



  ... according to the MCPS database

Uncle Paul



  (alias Paul Revere & The Raiders)




  mentioned in MCPS

The Allen Toussaint Orchestra



  Registered with MCPS

The Sir Douglas Quintet


Late 1970s / early 1980s

  ... when they weren't as good as before!

Some good leads have come in on these covers: thanks!: please read the details here


Will this grand film ever be finished and shown? It's hard to say: but if it doesn't come out commercially, we shall certainly never be able to see it on a small scale (such as in the Copping Brothers PH video): the royalty costs, payable to the owners of various archive clips, would be prohibitive.

So if any fans are able to help, Henry would like to hear from them: he's not online, which is why BtP is his Poste Restante.  

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