Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's press in the NME

A BtP special: thanks to Yan Friis

In each of these fascinating articles journalist Yan Friis will present Procol Harum reportage - once the AWSoP bubble had burst - in the context of contemporary chart events. See also The Mammoth Task: Yan's extracts from the first 52 weeks of Procol press in the NME

Swimming Against the Tide: Procol Harum press in the UK's
New Musical Express once the AWSoP bubble had burst

1968 part 1

Alarming decline in Procol press: the band seem to be monitored only by the laconic compiler of 'Tailpieces'

1968 part 2

The Brooker marriage and mysterious plans for Reid's contribution to a poetry album and book.

1968 part 3

Procol Harum scoring at the Fillmore when they were badly needed back home!

1969 part 1

Procol Harum shining and rampaging in Miami, but leaving a conspicuous gap in the NME poll. 

1969 part 2

A late review for Shine On Brightly, and the welcome return of Procol Harum to play on British soil.

1969 part 3

A resurgence as Procol play on the radio and garner a fine reaction to the A Salty Dog single.

1969 part 4

Wonderful reaction to the A Salty Dog album, and a rare Procol cover released on 45 rpm.

1969 part 5

Fan-letter support for the band, who still come across 'puzzlingly' in a feature interview. 

1970 part 1

A few Procol dates in the UK, US tours planned, and a little bit of Fisher-press.

1970 part 2

Procol Harum well received in concert and on vinyl as Home is released. 

1970 part 3

The band are booked to play important festivals both sides of the Atlantic, and some ecstatic reaction to Home, which charts in the USA.

1970 part 4

Home continues to haunt the US album chart, against stiff competition, and PH are well-received at the UK's Isle of Wight pop festival.

1970 part 5

Press interest in Procol tails off after the Isle of Wight; later they appear on the Chrysalis roster.

1971 part 1

The start of the Procol re-release industry, as the band tours with Curved Air, plays in Finland, records the famous WPLJ set ... and Gary Brooker votes for Matthew Fisher in a poll.

1971 part 2

Release and chart success of Broken Barricades, several Trower-induced personnel changes ... but the non-return of Matthew Fisher.

1971 part 3

Big interviews with Reid and later with Brooker, but no review of the band's first headline gig at the QEH in London; meanwhile Trower gets a new group together.

1971 part 4

Plenty of tour dates but no reviews, a single live track released, and the first news of the Edmonton album in the pipeline.

1972 part 1

A bit of a skirmish in the letters page, more UK touring, and the re-release of early albums and singles. 

1972 part 2

A re-released AWSoP prospers in the singles charts while the Live album attracts marvellous reviews

1972 part 3

'Harum make it second time around' in the single and the album charts.

1972 part 4

Procol Harum continue to enjoy chart success, while the Rainbow Orchestral gig, and Grand Hotel, are announced; meanwhile Freedom suffer a critical hammering.

1972 part 5

Conquistador gathers chart-momentum in the UK too, but not a flicker of live activity from the band.

1972 part 6

Procol Harum introduce Mick Grabham ('a charming person'), triumph at the Rainbow, wow Copenhagen, and tour Britain.

1973 part 1

Grand Hotel hits the shops, and the band hit the spot in concert; meanwhile Robin Trower makes his solo début.

1973 part 2

A downbeat Brooker interview, the Robert's Box single reviewed (congas?), and paramilitary waltzing at the Felt Forum, while Grand Hotel puts the band in the US album charts for the very last time.

1973 part 3

Another concert cancelled and re-sceduled with Leo Sayer supporting, meanwhile A Souvenir Of London is released on single and banned by BBC

1973 part 4

Procol Harum wowing Brighton and announcing a big London gig, while Matthew Fisher brings out a 'mediocre' single with 'faulty' melody from his 'predominantly melancholy' solo album, and gives a revealing interview.

1974 part 1

A very long and plain-speaking assessment of a band 'endowed with every shade of virtue and good intentions – and a sense of strategic intelligence that is barely more than cretinous'. A new single (well-received) and a small tour (not so) precede the release of the new album.

1974 part 2

A Trower interview and a luke-warm concert review ... where the band nonetheless played four encores!

1974 part 3

Procol steal the show at Crystal Palace, and are 'best band' at the Reading Festival; Alan Cartwright delivers a fine solo, and BJ appears in his own right. But what happened to that orchestral TV special?

1974 part 4

Desolation in the pop charts ... but Procol Harum are received rapturously on their UK tour.

1975 part 1

Procol Harum closing the Rainbow and playing very occasionally while they record with Leiber and Stoller; meanwhile Mickey Jupp tells his tale.

1975 part 2

Procol release a new album, play a big gig, and attract grudging praise mixed with hostility from the critics.

1975 part 3

Pandora's Box assails the charts: meanwhile a mocking interviewer draws an unsurprisingly abrasive, if very revealing, performance from its authors; and there are mocking captions, and a mocking teaser.

1975 part 4

Procol play some much-needed British dates, but their 'half-hearted' single has pub-rock and the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody to contend with.

1976 part 1

The band opt not to top the bill at a dismal festival, loon with the great Vivian Stanshall, and are seemingly re-evaluated by NME, rather late in the day!

1976 part 2

AWSoP is rated significantly differently by the readership and the staff; Procol Harum gig on, but there's already a retrospective feel to their press coverage.

1976 part 3

The advent of Pete Solley, a live show and an impending BBC engagement. Otherwise it's Punk time, with the only Procol feature, 'life after death', relating to the Liquorice John sessions six years before!

1977 part 1

Brooker buys a pub before Procol's huge UK tour promoting Something Magic; Brooker, Reid and Copping are a bit unforthcoming in a big interview, and French fans clap along to The Worm and the Tree.

1977 part 2

PH postponing gigs, releasing an ill-received album and single, playing good live sets (though not the Jubilee show at Tower Bridge) and then losing their guitarist ...

1977 part 3

Procol existing only in the mind of Keith Reid, while Brooker, Copping (fleetingly) and Wilson (biggest disappointment of the evening) are heard only in the context of Reid's fine protegé, Frankie Miller.


Talk of Gary Brooker 'of vestal virgins fame' who might be 'spinning in his grave' as various artists rehash the 'nonsensical lyrics' he made famous in a forgotten epoch.


Procol split confirmed only by start of Brooker's solo career: he's still a 'cult figure' to his publicist, but damning reviewers consider the music of this 'friendly old ruminant' to be 'too tasteful by half'.

See also: The Mammoth Task: Yan's extracts from the first 52 weeks of Procol press in the NME

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