Procol Harum

From: London, EnglandProcol Harum

Procol Harum are a British rock band, formed in 1967, which contributed to the development of progressive rock, and by extension, symphonic rock. Their best-known recording is their 1967 single “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. Although noted for its baroque and classical influence, Procol Harum’s music also embraces the blues, R&B and soul.

Based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, The Paramounts, led by Gary Brooker and Robin Trower and including Chris Copping and B.J. Wilson, scored a moderate British success in 1964, with their cover version of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “Poison Ivy”, which reached number 35 in the UK Singles Chart. Unable to generate any follow-up success, the group disbanded in 1966.

In April 1967, Brooker began working as a singer-songwriter and formed Procol Harum with non-Paramounts Keith Reid (poet), Hammond organist Matthew Fisher, guitarist Ray Royer and bassist David Knights. Guy Stevens, their original manager, named the band after a friend’s Burmese cat. The cat’s Cat Fancy name was Procul Harun, Procul being the breeder’s prefix.

In the absence of a definitive origin, the name attracted various interpretations, being said to be Latin for “beyond these things” (but the correct Latin translation of “beyond these things” is Procul His), or translated as “of these far off things”, the genitive plural harum perhaps agreeing with an understood rerum, “things”.

The name of the band is frequently misspelled; often with Procul, Harem, both, or other variations. The Paramounts were signed to EMI UK for their releases; until one day before Procol Harum linked with EMI UK again, they were called The Pinewoods. A last-minute offer from Chris Blackwell’s fledgling Island Records label was given the thumbs down by Brooker and band.

At Olympic Studios, with session drummer (and non-Paramount) Bill Eyden, producer Denny Cordell, and sound engineer Keith Grant, the group recorded “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and it was released on 12 May 1967. With a structure reminiscent of Baroque music, a countermelody based on J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite N° 3 in D Major by Fisher’s Hammond organ, Brooker’s soulful vocals and Reid’s mysterious lyrics, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and the Canadian RPM Magazine chart. It did almost as well in the United States, reaching #5. In Australia, it was #1 for many weeks, setting a record of 8 weeks in Melbourne.

After “A Whiter Shade of Pale” became a hit, the band set out to consolidate their studio success by touring; their live debut was opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1967.

The group’s follow-up single, “Homburg”, with a line-up change of former Paramounts B.J. Wilson on drums and Robin Trower on guitar, reached #6 in the UK, and #15 in Canada but was not a hit in the US. The album Procol Harum was recorded between the two hit singles, but was held back until early 1968. A series of singles charted lowly in the US and UK, though rarely both at the same time. A Salty Dog (1969) was popular among fans, and was their first album to sell well in the UK. The title track in particular gained a good deal of US FM radio airplay. However, one noted US writer previewed the LP and the story ran in print as ‘A Salty Duck’. Fisher, who produced the album, departed the band soon after its release.

The group would have many personnel changes, but their line-up for their first three albums was Brooker (piano and lead vocals), Trower (guitar and lead vocals), Fisher (organ and lead vocals), Knights (bass), Wilson (drums), and Reid (lyricist). Former Paramount Chris Copping joined on organ and bass in 1970. The group appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

By 1971 the disparities in style had become too great and, after the release of their fifth album Broken Barricades, Trower left to form his own power trio band and was replaced by Dave Ball. From late 1972 until 1977, the group’s guitarist was Mick Grabham.

Procol Harum returned to success on the record charts in the following years with a symphonic rock sound, often backed by symphony orchestras. At this they were one of the first groups to achieve success; Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was a #5 gold album in the US in 1972, as well as reaching #48 in Britain. “Conquistador” (a track from their first album, re-charted for accompaniment by the Edmonton Symphony in 1971) was a hit single in 1972, getting to #16 in the US and #7 in Canada, whilst reaching #22 in the UK. Their follow-up album, Grand Hotel, did fairly well, reaching #21 on the US Billboard 200 in 1973. ~ Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

  • A Whiter Shade Of Pale [Unreleased Stereo Version]
  • A Whiter Shade Of Pale [Tom Moulton’s Sync Stereo Mix]

From the 1967 album Procol Harum
Procol Harum

  • A Whiter Shade Of Pale [US Release]
  • Conquistador
  • Homburg [German Release]

From the 1968 album Shine On Brightly
Shine On Brightly

  • Shine On Brightly

From the 1969 album A Salty Dog
A Salty Dog

  • A Salty Dog
  • Long Gone Geek [Bonus Track]

From the 1972 album Procol Harum Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Procol Harum Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

  • Conquistador [Live ’72]

From the 1973 album Grand Hotel
Grand Hotel

  • Grand Hotel

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