Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's first year in the NME

A week of AWSoP silence: 20 May 1967

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, provide yet more detail of the chart hierarchy Procol Harum were about to assail. Yan adds a useful explanation of the meaning of the charts that you will be reading in future editions of this weekly feature.

Front page; full page advertisement for Dusty Springfield’s new single Give Me Time.

Main story in this week’s edition: A track-by-track review (or preview) of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, written by Allen Evans, who finds Harrison’s Within You Without You the most memorable track (!).

NME Top 5:

1 (4) Silence Is Golden, The Tremeloes
2 (2) Dedicated To The One I Love, Mamas & Papas
3 (1) Puppet On A String, Sandie Shaw
4 (7) Pictures Of Lily, The Who
5 (3) Somethin’ Stupid, Frank & Nancy Sinatra

There’s a nice piece on the Speakeasy (legendary London club in the 60s) with lots of nice pics, including some of the resident group Soft Machine posing with guest Jimi Hendrix …

Tipped for the charts by Derek Johnson:

Troggs, Night Of The Long Grass
Engelbert Humperdinck, There Goes My Everything
Dusty Springfield, Give Me Time
Eric Burdon & The Animals, When I Was Young
Petula Clark, Don’t Sleep In The Subway

There’s a lot going on, but not one single mention of Procol Harum. But we all know that this week was maybe the most important of them all for the group in ’67. It was the week that all the radio deejays plugged A Whiter Shade Of Pale to death (or rather to life). It was the first week in that single’s life, and it was selling like hot cakes already.

The NME always put the weekend date (Saturday) on its copies, although they were in fact on sale on Friday, and the Charts were always published on Wednesday. So the NME dated May 13 carries the charts dated May 10. In fact A Whiter Shade Of Pale hit the charts on May 24th, the corresponding copy of the NME was on sale May 26th, but it had May 27th printed on it.

During the 60s the NME charts were the most-respected and most-used British charts. To the rest of Europe and Britain they were the official charts. They were 'published' on Radio Luxembourg, and that's what the rest of Europe was listening to at the time. Music Week happened much, much later, deep into the 70s. So those Guinness Books of British Hit Singles are not 100% accurate. The 60s (and 50s) definitely belonged to the NME Charts.

Read more intriguing early-Procol press

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