Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum in France

Rapido, 1992

This TV show's presenter, Antoine de Caunes, is famous for his prodigiously fast delivery, so please excuse us if we don't transcribe all that he says ... or gabbles. The feature begins with a characteristically lubricious gag about all the people who were born in 1968, because they were conceived in the summer of 1967 when Procol Harum made people dance more slowly and intimately, or some such thing. But eventually he mentions AWSoP and Gary Brooker:

'Oh, Procol Harum got a new album out. Right: weíll play A Whiter Shade of Pale.

You know, itís bizarre. I mean, in England several times, I had this, when I had solo records out, they had the habit of playing things on peopleís birthdays, you know. Radio One would say, ďOh, itís Gary Brookerís birthday today.Ē Did they play a new one I had out? No. A Whiter Shade of Pale. The thing was it was a very, very big record, I mean, one of the biggest records that there ever has been I think. And that is, weíve never tried to copy that or tried to top that because you couldnít. I donít even think Michael Jackson could.

[Conquistador plays. De Caunes mentions Matthew, A Salty Dog and AWSoP]

Well, I think we always could have got back together and done something but itís, you have to want to, you know. And before I wouldnít have wanted to. I just didnít feel like it. And, I mean, the thing is I left the band in í69 basically because I didnít like life on the road and I wanted to work in recording studios. I didnít think we spent enough time in the studio, you know. So, and it suddenly dawned on me that Iíve had 20, 25 years of working in a studio and I was actually quite sick of that now and that the idea of going on the road would be a change, you know. So, but it took a long time for that to filter through.

[De Caunes mentions one band member who won't be involved in the reunion, BJ Wilson]

I went and played the songs to him. I played the piano. I thought that weíd purposely have some drum machine on our tracks and we thought perhaps that if BJ, if he was hearing anything, if he heard what would obviously to him be a Procol Harum song with a drum machine on, he would have been absolutely incensed with anger [laughs] and he may have woken up Ė but I think he was too far gone. So eventually it was a relief that he passed away Ė but a great loss.

[Music of The Truth Wonít Fade Away : de Caunes mentions the young drummer, who lowers the average age of the group, Mark Brzezicki]

I donít actually try and play like him but try and play in his spirit with my style and adopt my own thing, if you like, so that the song still has the same sketch but I put my own sort of details in there as well. But I just realise what a great band it was and still is. I mean, when I hear the stuff live now Ė we make live tapes as we go along Ė the new songs sound as good as the old songs, and reverse. I mean, they all stand up back-to-back. I think the band has written evergreens, as far as Iím concerned. And Iím very proud to be involved.

[Grand Hotel plays]

I guess as long as itís fun, Iíll carry on doing it. Really, I mean, that is really the bottom line as far as Iím concerned. Is it fun? Am I enjoying it? If Iím not enjoying it, I wonít do it any more.

I mean, we are getting better every night that we play. And thatís what the spirit of the bandís always been, that we always try to get better every time weíve played and made a record, you know, to improve and progress and do something different. And as long as weíve got that kind of spirit amongst us, then, you know, weíll just have to die before we stop this.

Thanks, Jill, for the typing

More Procol History in print at BtP


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