Procol Harum

the Pale

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Dusty in Deutschland • Procol Harum in rare 1969 footage

Frans Steensma for BtP

On Saturday 2 August 1969 Procol Harum played The Singer Bowl Music Festival in Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York. Topping the bill was Steppenwolf, and on the same bill were Moody Blues and NRBQ. The Singer Bowl was an open-air theatre.

This gig would be the last for the Brooker/Trower/Fisher/Knights/Wilson line-up. Shortly afterwards the band would return to England. Robin Trower’s wife was due to give birth (which was also the reason why Procol declined the invitation to play at Woodstock (August 15–17).

Back in England Gary Brooker flew for a short holiday to Rome, BJ Wilson guested on the Denny Cordell-produced Leon Russell début album (on the track Hurtsome Body) and Robin Trower produced the single Georgia George/July for Mickey Jupp’s Legend. Matthew Fisher played bass and BJ Wilson played drums on this single, which was to be released on Bell Records on Friday 24 October.

In September Dave Knights and Matthew Fisher left Procol Harum. They were replaced by a single new member, ex-Paramount Chris Copping, who would double on bass and organ. Knights became the new manager for Legend, and Fisher, who had produced A Salty Dog (his first album-production), wanted to go into producing full time.

In October 1969 Brooker, Trower, Wilson and Copping headed for BJ’s house in Warnham, Sussex to start rehearsing. Planned gigs (eg The London Lyceum on 2 November and a short Danish tour at the end of November) were cancelled.

Dusty in Deutschland (Zone Records ZVD 002)

What they did find time for was to catch a flight to Cologne in November to record a TV Special for West German Television starring Dusty Springfield. Procol would play two songs: the freshly written Trower-Reid collaboration Whisky Train, and A Salty Dog. The other band Dusty had invited was The Dave Pike Set (only one song). The show was produced by world-famous Dutch television director Bob Rooyens. In Germany he was known as the Salvador Dali of TV directors; in the Netherlands he was known for directing the monthly Moef Ga Ga popshows on TV (October 1965–May 1968). Choreography was by Robert Kaesen. The sound is mono (playback). The show was broadcast on Monday 15 December 1969 (ARD, 21.00) and was subsequently revamped to represent Germany (!) at the 1970 Montreux TV Festival. Dusty’s reaction: ‘I was astonished and very pleased. There was no earthly reason why they should choose an English girl to represent Germany. But I am very flattered.’ This special was never broadcast in the UK or USA and has never been commercially available – until now.

Ten reasons not to miss the two songs by Procol Harum on Dusty:
  1. The first appearance of the four-man line-up
  2. The first appearance of Chris Copping with Procol Harum
  3. The first-ever time Whisky Train is played in public (clip here)
  4. This alternate take of Whisky Train must be the shortest ever (1:50 instead of 4:33)
  5. Both songs are shot in full colour, so the beautiful painting on BJ’s bass drum is there in all its glory (like in Whisky Train in Robin Copping’s Home documentary)
  6. During A Salty Dog the camera zooms in on BJ a few seconds too late to show ‘the drum entry to end all drum entries’
  7. Never before (and never again) were CC and BJ so neatly dressed as on this A Salty Dog
  8. Playbacking A Salty Dog: GB misses ‘We fired the gun’  
  9. After The Paramounts split in October 1966 Gary had plans to join The Echoes, Dusty’s backing band
  10. Early 1967: Gary and Keith wrote Understandably Blue (also known as I Realise) for Dusty (she never recorded the song) – now Gary appears on her show
  11. PS. Copping made his live début with Procol Harum at the Rolling Stones’ Christmas Show (two houses) at the London Lyceum on 21 December 1969.

More from Frans Steensma at BtP |More Procol on DVD | Order it from Amazon UK by clicking this link, or from Amazon USA by clicking here

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