BtP's Screenshots Series
Procol Harum in May 1992 with the Edmonton
Symphony Orchestra (1)
The notion of fusing a rock band with a classical orchestra was not new when
Procol Harum recorded their history-making live album
in 1971. It had been initially attempted, though in the studio only, by The
Moody Blues when they recorded Days of Future Passed in 1967 It was
taken to the next echelon by The Nice in 1969 with the commercially-released
Five Bridges Suite. Procol Harum had, nevertheless, done their orchestral
thing live at the Stratford
Shakespearean Festival in 1969. Sadly,
not much of a record exists of this aside from the reminiscences of some lucky
people who were there. It was not recorded. Deep Purple also followed suit with
their 1970 Concerto for Group and Orchestra album, at whose live
recording Gary Brooker was reportedly in attendance. This Deep Purple show was
professionally recorded and ranks as one of my most precious archived materials.
Therefore, Procol’s effort was not the first, but history seems to deem it the
most successful of all such collaborations.
In May 1992
Canadian Television recorded Procol in a recreation
of the 1971 event. Hosted by Tommy Shanks, the
Orchestra was conducted by David Hoyt who had also been a member of the original
orchestra in 1971. Fans are interviewed, though none that I can identify on
sight. The band is interviewed momentarily:
interview was done alone, and the other members were interviewed as a group.
Somewhat infamously the band, sans Brooker, did an impromptu
led by Grandmaster MC Dave Bronze with hip-hop accompaniment by the other band
At this time, with Matthew
Fisher on hiatus at Cambridge University for the purpose of achieving his degree
in Computer Programming, he was understudied by Don Snow (aka John
Savannah). Mark Brzezicki on drums and Geoff Whitehorn on guitar, later mainstays,
were in attendance as well.
The set list is varied,
opting to start of with a powerful version of Ghost Train from Brooker’s
Echoes In the Night album (Matthew Fisher
is credited as co-composer of Ghost Train as well as
contributing to The Long Goodbye track and other material on the
Echoes album). The band is unyielding, the performance unconditional. Two
unintentional moments of levity occur when the choral singers do not come in on
time. First, during Holding On and then, excruciatingly off-time at the
beginning of Whaling Stories, where Gary winces and then smiles at the
temporal faux pas.
were left off of the aired programme, including what appear to be band-only
versions of Shine on Brightly and Homburg with Don Snow playing
some delicious Hammond.
Mr Snow was reading from music scores during Grand Finale, played guitar
on Whisky Train and was, musically at least, quite an asset to this
incarnation of Procol. In the audience was comedian, Richard Lewis, a Procol fan
in his own right. The set list was
Ghost Train / Simple
Sister / Holding On / Man With A Mission / Homburg /
Whisky Train / Grand Hotel / Into The Flood / A Salty Dog
Intermission / Whaling Stories / Shine
on Brightly / (You Can't) Turn Back The Page / The Truth Won't
Fade Away / The King of Hearts / Conquistador / A Whiter
Shade Of Pale (two verses). Encores were
The Long Goodbye
Grand Finale /
followed by Conquistador
(again). Unaired footage includes Shine on Brightly
Whaling Stories (alt. take).
Special Presentation indeed ...
The conductor ...
The dots ... looks like A Salty Dog, would you not say?
Maestro Brzezicki (who first saw this footage at the
Palers' Party in Kristiansand, and was
when BtP was able to give him a copy at the
Manchester Palers' Convention
Voilà! A violin ... note the 'wolf-chaser' on the A string, right
by the bridge.
Who's this geezer?
The on-screen title is somewhat superfluous
Thanks to Larry Pennisi, Marvin Chassman, Ted McCallion