Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum

'NME' Book of Rock 2 : Star Books, 1977

Gary Brooker pno, vcls / Keith Reid words / BJ Wilson drms, pcsn / Mick Grabham gtr / Chris Copping org / Alan Cartwright bs.

Conceived 1967 as outlet for Brooker-Reid compositions, rapidly found themselves with massive worldwide hit, A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Ray Royer (gtr) and Bobby Harrison (drms) were replaced by Robin Trower and BJ Wilson, former associates of Brooker in Paramounts, and group recorded (1) although performing infrequently.

Visited America following year for first of numerous tours and amassed considerable following there. (2) and (3), still considered by many as their most substantial achievements, established them further. Matthew Fisher, organist and producer of (3), left in mid-1969 (now a solo artist and producer) closely followed by bassist Dave Knights.

Chris Copping, another ex-Paramount, took both their places and as a quartet they made (4) and (5) after which guitarist Robin Trower, whose frustration was becoming increasingly evident with each recording, left to form Jude and later Robin Trower band (see Robin Trower Band). Replaced by Dave Ball, and bassist Alan Cartwright was added to the line-up involved in (6), one recording of a continuing series of experiments with orchestras. Soon after, Mick Grabham took over on guitar and group produced (7), their most satisfying work for some time.

This line-up remained stable for three more albums, until departure of Cartwright summer 1976. Pete Sollie [sic] joined on keyboards; Copping reverting to bass after spell since (6) as organist. Noted especially for Keith Reid's scholarly lyrics and Gary Brooker's superb piano playing, Procol Harum, although by no means unpopular, have yet to attain their U.S. success in Britain- although Pandora's Box from Leiber & Stoller produced (9) returned them to U.K. singles charts 1975 after lengthy absence. Reissued Whiter Shade of Pale was UK Top Ten hit 1972.

(1) and (3) and (2) and (4) reissued by double packages by Cube.

(1) Procol Harum (Regal Zonophone 1967)

(2) Shine On Brightly (Regal Zonophone 1968)

(3) A Salty Dog (Regal Zonophone 1969)

(4) Home (Regal Zonophone 1970)

(5) Broken Barricades (Chrysalis 1971)

(6) In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (Chrysalis 1972)

(7) Grand Hotel (Chrysalis 1973)

(8) Exotic Birds and Fruit (Chrysalis 1974)

(9) Procol's Ninth (Chrysalis 1975)

This paperback, shaped like a small brick, shows a fascinating lack of awareness of the punk revolt on its doorstep. There is a later hardback NME book on which the Procol Harum entry is completely rewritten. I do not own this but am fairly convinced it contains the word 'boring' in the PH entry. (SC)

More PH history in print Read part of the above article in the 1974 NME cut-out-and-keep rock encyclopaedia


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