Procol Harum

the Pale

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Geoff Whitehorn

'Big in Gravesend' (1994)

Recorded in Geoff's loft (the Tree House, Gravesend) December 1993 – February 1994, using the Akai DR4d hard disk recording system.


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An enjoyable and varied set arranged and played with solidity and flair; intriguing to the guitarist, appealing to the general listener, and probably of great interest to 90s Procol completists. Review by Roland Clare:

The Report (Whitehorn)
A bit of everything in this veritable sampler of Geoff's skills: big, grown-up guitar and drum sounds, sophisticated layering of unobtrusive but telling synth textures; a couple of good melodies and a heavy-riffing episode midway.

Whiskey & What? (Whitehorn)
Enigmatic claves open this medium-slow showcase for a warm, fat guitar sound with wondrous sustain; a few too many repetitions of one sinuous riff for some tastes. Tasty low-register work towards the end, while a final passionate outburst is surprisingly allowed to fade.

This Way Up (Whitehorn)
The reasons for some of these titles aren't quite clear: perhaps this one refers to the interesting chord-inversions along the way? Akkermanesque guitar harmonies here (a little Jessica flurry, perhaps in homage to Geoff's daughter's name?) and great backing with credible Hammond sound. Modern synths are also clever at imitating the sizzle of their analogue ancestors – like having a Porsche with a 'Morris Minor effect' button on the dashboard. This Way Up fades out effectively in a flawless slow finale.

Virginia Avenue – A Tale of Two Widdlers (Whitehorn)
Menacing and memorable intro that wouldn't disgrace the proverbial Batman movie ... sneaky use of stereo-panning on the tiniest percussion sounds. This number features Phil Hilborne (no other players are credited on the album): he may the man responsible for the brutally exciting flurry of lightning-fast scales in the middle section. Apocalyptic tumult at the end!

The Widdler's Rap (Whitehorn)
Heavy, heavy opening, its seriousness undercut by a prominent and very 80s Yamaha percussion 'woof' noise. Then Geoff starts a self-mocking commentary on his very versatility. Great fun here, not least in his vernacular Kentish 'pin back yer lug-'oles': sound-effects, a name-check for Marshall, off-mic responses, Bo Diddley rip-offs, vocal guitar-impressions, digital quick-cut echo, Shadows parodies mixed up with Sunshine of Your Love and lots of other guitarists' stand-bys ... and a quick segue into ...

Turn it Up Loud (Chapman / Whitehorn)
Geoff handles this vocal very capably in a straight rocker written with long-term collaborator Roger Chapman (see sessions list): especially nice harmony vocals. It would be good to hear more vocal numbers on his next solo CD: I wonder if he's looking for a lyricist?

El Ballet (Whitehorn)
The intro is reminiscent of Synchronicity-era Andy Summers, somehow. Another number where the guitar really seems to be playing a vocal line: latter-day Reid words would behove this moody and melodic offering. Insistent snare off-beats are one of few places on the album where the drum sounds don't entirely convince: still eminently listenable, however. Procolesque moments in the rich harmonies and 'classical' chord-inversions of the stirring finale.

The Thrill is Gone (Hawkins)
The familiar BB King signature tune, played and sung by Geoff with impeccable style and passion. Not a shred here of the self-doubt he makes fun of in The Widdler's Rap or in the album's downbeat vocal coda; ultra capable singing. Strings slide in at the top of the mix: all that's missing is a girlie chorus! Fine stuff.

Beats Working (Whitehorn)
Vigorous up-tempo stomper in compound time, exploring what Geoff has referred to as 'grown-up pop changes'; a very attractive jazzy middle section with walking bass and twin-lead guitars flittering up and down the arpeggios. Lots of harmonics! Very appealing indeed.

Be Mine or Die (Whitehorn)

Shades of a Knopfler soundtrack, perhaps, in the muted and menacing opening; some ghostly synth effect is heard here and there, but the familiar, fluent and meaty guitar holds centre-stage. For my money, however, fewer of these tracks would fade: I like Whitehorn's sense of a dramatic ending.

PG Tips (Whitehorn)
Mystifyingly inappropriate title for a ravishing heavy blues that doesn't sound as though tea was it principle lubricant. Even in this outwardly straightforward style Geoff piles on the substitute chords and keeps his phantom bass-player busy; there are a couple of Fisherly suspensions in the organ, and the chameleon guitar remains perpetually tasteful and entertaining.

Never the Twain (Whitehorn)
Maybe more than any other track, this one has something about it that reminds us of Geoff's spell with Procol: not that it sounds like them, but it has that characteristic intensity harmonic interest and drama. It's a fittingly stately ending to 55 minutes of music that hint ... indeed prove ... that this musician can do anything he wants with the electric guitar, and explain why he was so well-qualified to adopt the Trower / Grabham mantle during the nineties Harum tours.

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More on Whitehorn solo albums

Geoff Whitehorn's BtP page

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