Procol Harum

the Pale

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Introducing the songs ...

Garrulous Brooker in concert

The Commander's legendary song-introductions sometimes shed interesting light on what's about to be played, sometimes showcase a Saharan sense of humour, and sometimes are simply bewildering ... enjoy these, and please send in more contributions (including whats, whens and wheres as below) [RC].
At the foot of the page, please find three scripted introductions heard at Biba's Rainbow Room when Procol introduced various guest artists during their hosting of the Midnight Special concert recorded on 30 November 1973 for broadcast in the United States of America.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Cafe AuGogo, Bleeker St, NYC, Oct 1967, 1st US gig, not sure which night (was at two),
(... and now ... ) Tchaikowsky's 25th Raga ... (thanks, John Overall)

Exeter, 28 February 1974
... the date of the first General Election of that year. I will never forget that Gary's introduction to AWSoP was 'This is probably the colour of Harold Wilson's tongue tonight'! (Peter Cohen)

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
I forgot to announce the people in the band! And er ... we always should announce people in the band. It's always done. Well we do it anyway. Can you hear me? (cheers) Oh! Please welcome, on the drums, Mark Brzezicki (cheers); Mark Brzezicki, yessir! Thank you Mark. Way down in the bass, Dave Bronze from Southend (cheers); thank you Dave. And on guitar, one of our new boys, Geoff Whitehorn, please (cheers: GW plays the James Bond theme); and I'm sure we can challenge the man at the back to find us a funny little piece to play for his little bit, please welcome ... many years he hasn't been on the road, but now he is ... on Hammond organ, Matthew Fisher! (cheers: MF plays electric piano intro to his own Can't You Feel My Love) ...

Nuremberg, Germany, 27 January 1992
Pardon? Announce what? I didn’t hear what you said, Dave [Bronze]. Come back here. He said something ... I didn’t hear what he said. Oh! Okay. He just reminded me that I have to meditate slightly before this one to get the tempo right. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm... 1, 2, 3, 4 ...


Colden Auditorium, Queens College, Flushing, NY, USA, 25 Nov 1970
Ah, I'll say 'Good evening'. Have I said 'Good evening'? [Chatter in the crowd] Ah, they don't know (inaudible) ... I've got no-one to talk to over here. Anyhow we're going to get on with it as we usually do; we don't usually talk between songs, so there's no point in making a habit of it this evening. is there? Right. 'Music is our business'. We did this one in The Past, which a couple of people shouted for, so it should make a couple of people at least happy. Homburg.

Shine on Brightly

Vienna, 1975
We'd like to thank whoever it was who wrote Shine On Harvest Moon ...

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
We'd like to play a few of our new songs tonight from the new album; we've got a few older ones to play so we'll just get on with it and play a couple more that ... hope you might know. You won't, laddie! How you doing? All right? Having a good time? You come with Dad? (laughter) Probably came with Granddad actually ... Shine on Brightly!

A Salty Dog

Shine on Live: USA, 1971?
This song ... looks like we're doing a lot of title-tracks tonight ... we only need one to go ... this one is from, er ... A Salty Dog and it is the Salty Dog or A Salty Dog ...

Hofstra University, NY: May 1977
I'll take this opportunity to say that er ... I'm very keen on the sea, as you can judge by my bizarre outfit – (Pete Solley's synths wheep and twiddle in the background) – these are whales singing in the background: let's all save the whales.

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
Thank you. One nice thing about playing near the seaside is that you meet a lot of sailors (laughter) Aarrr, Jim Lad! (Fisher plays I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside). No, also we get a lot of those birds that fly in the sky ... that sort, I mean there are some that only walk ... but a lot of birds fly. And, um, this song always needs a few of them. And we'd like to play this for any sailors that are in the room.

New York City: 19 May 1992
We've had a request actually, sent up to the dressing-room for this while we were in fact down here, and um ... my grand-daughter came down and gave it to me (cheers!) not that I've got any ... (laughter) ... I read the wrong book! ... (more laughter) ... but er, this is one actually, we haven't played any ... for any of our departed friends or people that have gone insane ... we'd like to play this for them ... good luck to them in heaven ...

Juicy John Pink

Shine on Live: USA, 1971?
I think I'll let Chris ... ah ... Chris introduce this next one ... do you want to Chris? What, mate? (Trower's guitar cuts straight in).

Nothing That I didn't Know

Shine on Live: USA, 1971?
'Repent! Homburg!' bellows someone in the audience. 'Oh, some of those about, is there? Alrighty!' says GB. 'Anyway, this next song ... we'd like to slow down ... so we can get all our instruments in here ... so it will sound right ... I hope it's coming out nice there.' ('Can't hear the piano!' two voices shout). 'Listen man, there's fifty million other people listening! But still, who's important? You are, tonight. 'Cos you're here. No, this one's a slow, Scottish lament, in D minor.'

Whaling Stories

Vienna, 1975
Let's have Chris Copping start it off with some sea shanties sort of thing. It's called Whaling Stories Volume 2 ...

Seattle, 1977
(Grand Hotel ends) That's got the fast ones out of the way. We'd like to do a ... real downer now; this is called Whaling Stories ...

Broken Barricades

Shine on Live: USA, 1971?
Hmm! Right. So we got a lot of new songs to do ... or we have ... we've done a few, and we're gonna do ... I have to make sure I got the words handy ... although I don't have to look at them, but ... mental blocks are frequent. And this one is from ... title track from our new album ... this is called Broken Barricades ... Mmm.

Luskus Delph

Shine on Live: USA, 1971?
I'm going to have take a few piano-lessons here. I'm getting stiff fingers. I think it was my watch-strap ... This ... er ... next song, if you could put the voice a little bit down in the cans please, Bill (mysterious Germanic accent and next few words unintelligible: 'Phil? ... Phil on zee kontrols. Zank you!'). This one is from our new album, with words by Keith Reid, this time a little ... er sultry, and ... a little underhanded smut, I think: no, maybe I'll turn that backwards, 'smut' will be 'tums' ... right ... called Luskus Delph.

Power Failure

Vienna, January 1976
[Chuckle] … The announcer announced earlier that er … we've been going quite a long time now, and we're getting a little bit tired … we've played six songs [they'd played nine] We keep on the tonic wine but … er … after this point we're going to have a break so that we can 'Point Percy' if you know what that bit means. We'd like to finish up the first set for you 'ere in the [name of concert-hall] by introducing on the drums, le batteur ... le formidable [pronounced as in French] BJ Wilson. He's got a record as long as my arm. The story of the trials of the road.

Rockpalast German TV, 17 January 1976
And finally on the drums - there he goes now - is the inimitable, the octopus in the bathtub, Mr BJ Wilson. Take it away!

Grand Hotel

Hofstra University, NY: May 1977
We've got a few title-tracks we was going to play this evening – here comes another one which is from two or three years ago: hope you enjoy it, it's called W ... I nearly said Wand Wotel – but it's called Grand Hotel ...

Nuremberg, Germany, 27 January 1992
(Someone in the audience shouts something off-mike.) Sorry, I was talking to my road manager. What did you say? Pardon? I thought somebody said something. Perhaps he was calling out for a song. Perhaps he was calling out for this one. You know what? We were here ... with this Procol Harum ... this band ... English ... Yes ... We’re not American ... We’re not Scottish. (Round of applause from the audience.) There might be a bit of Polish in there somewhere. Of course, that’s Mark Brzezicki over on the drums. (More applause.) But you know, we’re having some great fun at the moment on this new tour. Because we have toured, and we’ve been to Nuremberg before. I think maybe in about 197? ... 196? ... 195? ... 1953, somewhere around there. Just after the You-Know-What. And we were staying at the Grand Hotel down by the Bahnhof .You know it? It’s true! I went to bed with Keith Reid one night and he said (adopts exaggerated vocal precision) 'These sheets feel like silk, Gary.' And I said, 'Well that's just what the record company have provided'. Keith said, 'Shall we write a song about it, Gary?' (adopts knowing, arch tone of voice) 'I said, "Later Keith, we'll do it later".' This is what we came up with, it’s called Grand Hotel." [see also here]

Saga Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 30 January 1992
Just going to take a little breather there. We was driving over here tonight from wherever we were, don't know where that was, the other side of town somewhere, and we passed a hotel on ... just up the road ... and I think we stayed there back in the 70s when we were on tour round here 'cos I remember there we wrote a song when we was sitting out in the restaurant there, just had a nice dinner, on the record company, lovely, like on likes ... (someone shouts 'Goodbye Gary' ... Brooker replies, 'Goodbye!'). Anyway we ended up having a song about touring which we've just run up the flagpole again which means we've been playing it the last couple of nights and we're still rehearsing it, so allow for any misgiving in this one. Goes like this ...

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
Thank you very much. You know we've actually toured here before now. We actually came up here I think in the nineteen-seventies at some point. Because I remember that we stayed in a place round the corner somewhere in town, in the city, sorry; and um, whilst you eat your reindeer and cloudberries and other goodies and a peach flambé, there's a little orchestra playing in the corner ... Is it still there, Grand Hotel, round the corner? Anybody ever been in there? Knocked it down, I expect. Nowadays we stay at the Seamen's Mission (raucous laughter).

Bringing Home the Bacon

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
Thank you very much and good evening! Welcome to Stockholm! We're Procol Harum: we come from England. We came in a 'bus.

As Strong As Samson

Vienna, 1975
Thank you, dankeshein. We haven't learned any German yet; we'd been sending BJ to night school to pick up a word or two, but he dropped out, so we have to speak in English

Fresh Fruit

Vienna, 1975
... the chap who writes our words, helps compose the songs, is our general Guru as they say, ... sits up on the mixer, does the sound and the lights, and sets up the stage - Keith Reid

The Blue Danube

Vienna, 1975
When we knew we were coming to Vienna this trip, after our last time here, I think it was last year or the year before [shout of "last year!"] Thank you Keith. The Vienna City Fathers asked us to do a number and we said we'd do it. The sad part was, though we did it in good faith, they never gave us the money, [applause from Viennese audience!], but in lieu of trying to press upon them that we need it, we'd like to play this.

Pandora's Box

Nuremberg, Germany, 27 January 1992
I think with Procol Harum in the past we seemed to have delved into most rhythms, and this was our Latin American shot. Apparently, Paula Abdul’s covered it, and we are very pleased about that. It’s called Pandora’s Box.

Saga Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 30 January 1992
All right. Is it Friday night, or is it Saturday night, or is it only Wednesday? Who knows? One of the reasons ... excuse me for talking ... ah! ... I must say something. I know that Danish people are much better educated than British people because you can speak at least two languages ... I'm sure you can speak English better than I can, is that right? (Cheers). All right so I can speak in English and you don't mind, is that all right? Then we've got a relationship all going and we've only been here fifteen minutes! This is great. Thank you. Going to settle down a bit, do this one from our ninth album, many moons ago. A tale of fantasy ...

Stockholm Circus, 4 February 1992
One of the reasons we come out and ... hmm ... that's a broken nail ... (someone shouts 'Welcome back!') Thank you very much! Welcome back to Stockholm as well: it's very nice of you to invite us. And it's very nice of our old friend Thomas to invite us. Well done Tom. And his friend Bob. Tom and Bob.

This is one of our very few sort of Latin-American rhythms that we ever do. This is the one you remember that Abba stole, had a big hit with it in Venezuela you might not have heard of it up here. Called Pandora's Box ...

Boston Paradise, 6 May 1992
This was one of Peggy Lee's hits from the 50s (thanks, Wilson Brown; Sam Cameron adds that 'this is a wee joke about Leiber and Stoller, Pandora's producers, of whom GB has said that they tried to put songs that were for Peggy – ones she had rejected, not even classics like Fever – on to Procol's Ninth)

Thun, Switzerland, 1992
This one was originally an American one done for Henry Mancini when he was in hospital suffering from one of his bouts of transvestitism so he couldn't do it. But he did it on his third album called: When I was a Pogo Dancer (thanks, Sam)

The Unquiet Zone

Hofstra University, NY: May 1977
We've just got this one quick spot here, um ... where we have been recently we've been seeing if anybody had anything particular they wanted to hear, so this is the time to say it. (Someone shouts 'Unquiet Zone!') OK: gonna let Mick start off this one from the comparatively-unheard-of Procol's Ninth album which was out a couple of years ago, this one (laughs) Mick's going to start. It's a story about ... well it's not much of a story ... but it's really some impressions gained from watching a programme on the Third World War ... sorry, hasn't come yet; First World War, and, er, when you're down there in the trenches with the gas – and this we put to a disco beat and hope that you enjoy it. It's called The Unquiet Zone ...

A Palladium '77 remembrance: as Gary introduced this song, he likened the idea of an 'unquiet zone' to (New York's) '42nd Avenue' before someone apparently corrected him ('42nd Street'). This was years before the recent Disney-fication of the area. (Marvin Chassman)

The Mark of the Claw

Hofstra University, NY: May 1977
It's getting near that time now that er ... we just speak a little bit maybe. And in fact er ... what we'd like to do is introduce on the guitar, with a song he wrote off the new album ... start this one off. It's a story of er ... something which was done, something quite dreadful – we are believed to understand – of which of the perpetrator was never brought to justice. The Mark of the Claw.

Strangers in Space

Hofstra University, NY: May 1977
We'll start this next one – which I think if I understand Keith's words, where he's meant to – is about some chance meeting that one may have with somebody when ... maybe you'll never see them again anyway ... but there's a spark ...

One More Time

Saga Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 30 January 1992
Like to do another one from this new record, that we hope you'll enjoy. It's a kind of a blues shuffle in more or less in G minor. It's called One More Time.

All Our Dreams are Sold

Nuremberg, Germany, 27 January 1992
All our dreams are sold ... Believe it. Ain’t nothin’ you get for free, except a kick in the balls.

30 November 1973, Gary Brooker and BJ Wilson introducing guest artists – in the preposterous alliterative style of a British Music Hall compčre – Keith Reid did not speak, but sounded a motor horn until Gary threatened to bash him on the head with his gavel

Gary Brooker (with hat, gavel, and faintly Marxian false moustache): and now, my lords, ladies, and gentlemen: a mellifluous mixture of munificent musicians of notable nomenclature, coupling the characteristics of condescension, of self-abasement, self-effacement, and self-abashment, with the sustenance of a Simple Simon, a pabulum of prandial provender, and a collation of culinary comestibles … your own, your very own … Humble Pie with the Blackberries 

Of course the string of adjectives following 'condescention' relates to 'humble', and the sustenance of Simple Simon is pie; but the fact is, 'Humble pie' is nothing to do with humility, but everything to do with eating umbles, the minced entrails of a deer.

Gary Brooker (with hat, gavel, and stuck-on moustache): and now, ladies and gentlemen: to assail your auricular organs with the acme of audial abstinence (?), to tempt your tympanums (honk-honk from a Harpo-esque Keith Reid with a rubber-bulbed motor-horn) Oof! As I said, to tempt your tympanums and ears with their rin-tin-tintinabulations, we present to you the apotheosis paragon of polyphony, Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre (honk-honk-honk from KR) 

Readers with need no reminding of Rin-Tin-Tin, the Hollywood hound (1918–1932) ... nor of the hint of 'tinnitus' in the wording that so aptly follows the sounding of Reid's horn.

 BJ Wilson (with a tiny hat perched Stan Laurel style atop his head): we have more overt manifestations of auditory experiences from our guests, Humble Pie, Alvin Lee and more after Station Identification

(Thanks, Anvil, for these wordy offerings)

See also Gary Brooker's introductions, Danish symphonic concerts in 2006 | Gary Brooker's introductions, 40th Anniversary Concert in 2007

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