Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Barrie James Wilson

'Never outclassed or outgunned' : Dan Kirby in Uncut

Dave Montserrat writes to BtP (May 2005) to say, 'I just thought I would let you know that there is a letter in this month's Uncut about BJ Wilson following comments made by Robert Plant in last month's issue ... he just said something brief like 'the drummer wasn't up to par' and Uncut had put BJ Wilson's name and Procol Harum in brackets underneath so readers knew whom Plant was referring to'.


Regarding the interview with Robert Plant (May 2005, Take 96), I must take issue with Plant over the crass comment he made about Procol Harumís late drummer BJ Wilson, where he stated that Wilson wasnít in the same league as John Bonham.

I certainly agree that John Bonham was an incredible, dynamic drummer, but so was BJ Wilson.

Come off it, Percy.  Do you really believe that Jimmy Page would have even considered approaching Wilson if he didnít think he was a top-league drummer?  Surely Page must have seen Wilsonís ability when he worked with him on the 1968 sessions for Joe Cockerís With A Little Help From My Friends album.

Furthermore, even the late great Cozy Powell once commented after seeing Procol live back in 1970 that perhaps a few so-called heavy metal drummers should check out BJ Wilson and perhaps they could learn a few points on technique.

Perhaps Plant should check out the 10 Procol Harum albums that Wilson worked on, particularly Broken Barricades, Grand Hotel  and  Exotic Birds And Fruit,  which is probably Wilsonís finest work with the band.  However, to really appreciate Wilsonís talent was to witness him playing live, as he never played the obvious and was one of the most powerful, inventive and unorthodox drummers that ever lived.  He didnít just play drums, he orchestrated them.

Sadly, BJ Wilson died in tragic circumstances in 1990 and I am in no doubt if Procol Harum had made it into the ranks of the Top 10 bands of the era (in terms of sales and public attention) then Wilsonís reputation would have surpassed many of his peers.  Rest in peace, Barrie BJ Wilson.

Dan Kirby, Sidcup, Kent

How surprising to read, between the lines, that Robert Plant harbours resentment towards his more critically acclaimed, more talented contemporaries The Who and the Stones.  I guess that on planet Zeppelin, the album charts of the 1970s were a Corinthian contest of quality untainted by the whims of the market.  As a consumer of less rarefied air, I recall a plethora of pop compilations and disco soundtracks, each more fun than a Zeppelin opus.  Fact is, once over the utter self-absorption of adolescence, Led Zeppelinís music has nothing to offer bar a sense of time passing discordantly and far too bloody slowly.

Kevin Doyle, Cheetham, Manchester

Thanks, Jill, for the typing

"Ho letto con un'oncia di stupore il commento di Robert Plant apparso su 'Uncut' riguardante BJ. E' un peccato che Robert si sia lasciato sfuggire una dichiarazione simile.

Personalmente ho seguito con molta attenzione la vita musicale dei Led Zeppelin e la carriera 'solista' di Plant. Vale la pena di notare come, indubitabilmente, la sua possente voce - nota distintiva dei primi L.Z.- sia notevolmente "sfiorita" fin dai tempi di The song remains the same (1972/1973), ne' pare che il cantante si sia mai impegnato seriamente per recuperarla, preferendo deviare spesso il discorso sulla sua pretesa ricerca vocale 'orientaleggiante' che contraddistingue -ufficialmente- molti suoi dischi nonche' la reunion con Jimmy Page del 1994.

Proprio questa carenza ha sospinto a mio avviso i Led Zeppelin - e alcuni miei amici musicisti sono d'accordo con me- a ricercare, per compensazione, riff musicali sempre piu' pesanti e ripetitivi, costringendo inevitabilmente lo stile di Bonzo - inizialmente potente ,si', ma anche vivace (crispy)- a seguire la scia dell' "heavy per l'heavy".

Sotto questo profilo, invece, BJ ť' stato piu' ... fortunato, potendo contare su un gruppo direi in costante e feconda evoluzione come i Procol Harum.

Antonio Costa Barbť

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