Procol Harum

the Pale 

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'Pandora's Box'

WESA 821: track list and liner note


Something Following Me

Cerdes (Outside the Gates of)


Repent Walpurgis

Pandora's Box

In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence

Wish Me Well (aka 'Gospel According to Matthew')

Alt. Repent Walpurgis

A Whiter Shade of Pale

... And so it was, that later ...

... Those of you who've followed Westside's Procol Harum reissue programme will know that we originally aimed to release their eponymous Regal Zonophone début album in true stereo, following the discovery of (what the tape box led us to believe was) a quarter-inch stereo production master in the vaults of Abbey Road Studios. Sad to say, when said tape was played through at the point of mastering it turned out to be nothing more than an electronically-rechannelled Mono tape, like all the others already available to us from Cube Records' own archives. Reluctantly, we issued Procol Harum ... Plus! (WESM 527) in mono ...

Those of you who've followed said programme will also recall our initial reluctance to issue the instrumental run-throughs of Pandora's Box that we found on an unmixed, 4-track tape reel, feeling that they did not in any way add to the Procol Harum story as it stood. Overwhelming pressure from, well, you and thousands like you forced us to reconsider our decision – and so it was that (later!) we called up the tape from Cube with a view to mixing it down for either the A Salty Dog ... Plus! (WESM 534) or Home ... Plus! (WESM 535) issues.

When we requested the tape, the folks at Cube had been having a bit of a sort-through of some other tapes that they'd recently taken re-possession of, from the various studios where the band recorded during the period that they were contracted to Straight Ahead Music. Most of these tapes yielded nothing new in the way of releasable or unreleased material. But one did ...

Salad days are here again ...

When the one known Pandora source came over, you can imagine our delight when 'a source' had turned into 'sources'. Alongside the tape yours truly had originally reviewed and rejected for release was the 4-track reel pictured on the cover, containing not only Pandora's Box but also 5 tracks from PH, an alternate and longer (by almost two minutes!) version of that album's Repent Walpurgis and also the Quite Rightly So single's original non-album flipside In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence all ready and waiting to receive their (mostly) first-ever UK issue in a true stereo format!

Westside's good friend, and studio wizard, Nick Watson (the man responsible for the mixdown of so much of the previously-unheard PH material on previous Westside issues) mixed the tracks for release – under the supervision of PH expert Henry Scott-Irvine, and in a style which we believe complements the original mono work of producer Denny Cordell and engineer Gerald Chevin – in December 1998 at SRT Studios, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. Unfortunately the tape's discovery came too late for this material to be included in any of the other PH packages on Westside, but we feel that the importance of said discovery merits a full CD release of the material anyway. And to make sure that – even at three-quarters-of-an-hour – no one feels cheated by a comparatively short (by the standard of our other PH packages!) running time, we have included as a bonus an alternate, slightly-longer-than-as-issued, stereo mix of Wish Me Well aka The Gospel According To Matthew that Nick Smith and yours truly mixed down at Hatch Farm Studios, Addlestone Moor, Surrey in September 1997, and rounded the set out with a reprise of Tom Moulton's first-time-stereo mix of the alternate take 2 of Whiter Shade of Pale – the original mono master being, as far as we are able to ascertain, take 3, which has not survived in a mixable-for-stereo format - which was mixed by Tom in New York in May and June of 1997 and which has only previously appeared on Westside's 30th Anniversary Anthology 3 CD boxed set (WESX 301). Additionally we've left any relevant session chat and take calls in to give you a sense of 'being there' with the band as they cut the tracks. And, wherever possible, we've let the tracks run to their natural conclusion rather than fade them per the original album and single releases ...

Still there won't be more ...

We originally intended to call this project Still There'll Be More, and to release it as WESM 601 – we mention this now, so that any future PH discographers who stumble upon this info will not think they've chanced upon a 'great lost PH album' sometime in the new millennium! – but we opted not to as (a) we didn't have a further alternate of Still There'll Be More to use and (b) we didn't want to imply that there would 'Be More' studio recordings after the release of this CD, as its release pretty much clears the cupboard at Cube, apart from a few nigh-on identical run-throughs of the Pandora instrumental and a couple of alternate mixes that even the most ardent Procol fan (not to say G. Brooker himself!) would be hard-pressed to spot as being different to the released ones ...

When all's said and done, though, no title would befit the CD you hold in your hands better than Pandora's Box, as that's truly what we hope most PH collectors will feel it represents in terms of rarity and unknown / unheard (in this form, anyway!) content. We're as delighted to bring it to you as we have been to bring you any and all of the other splendid Procol reissues in what has been a 2-year-long archive excavation ...

... the 'box' is open ... dare you look and listen? ...

Tony Rounce – Repertoire Manager, Westside, September 1999

More Westside info

Buy Westside CDs online

An album with a similar cover-photo

Buy Pandora's Box from Amazon USA

Review in Goldmine

Two Procoholics give this album a track-by-track analysis

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