Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale 

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Procol Harum in the 'Prodigal Stranger' promo film (1)


Larry Pennisi writes,
"Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind. Me and my -ah- mother and father - and a grandmother and a grandfather - were driving through the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian workers had either hit another car, or just - I don't know what happened - but there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death."

I must admit that these famous Jim Morrison words were the first thing that came to mind when I saw the Procol video of The Truth Won't Fade Away. Using a 'video-inside-a-video' approach, I always felt that someone was seriously misdirected when conceptualizing the stance that the video should take. The footage cuts alternately between Procol, sync-playing in what resembles a New York City Subway terminal la Grand Central Station and some rather disjointed and ultimately purposeless footage of Indians in the desert watching a disembodied television set which features montages of war atrocities and other sadnesses of the modern age. So much for concept or relevancy.

On the more pragmatic end of things, Mark Brzezicki is holding his sticks in the orthodox tradition as did BJ though it is not his normal choice when playing much of the time.

The actual drums were played on the recording by Henry Spinetti. Tim Renwick mimes to the sparse musings of Robin Trower's muted efforts on the track. Dave Bronze on bass is present along with Gary Brooker on piano and Matthew Fisher on Hammond and ancillary late 1980s style DS-3 digital synth. Keith Reid and his trusted Prodigal Umbrella make their way in and out of scenes as well.

One might think that Procol Harum was prime material for conceptual video artistry but it never came to fruition. For my money, I far prefer the amateurish but oddly compelling video of The Dead Man's Dream from the Robin Copping documentary of late 1969 into 1970. That at least did not attempt to take itself so seriously.
 

The umbrella motif that pervaded the album artwork

The band in Islington's Union Chapel, where the second live Procol DVD would be filmed a decade later

Five strings ...


Thanks to Larry Pennisi, Marvin Chassman, Ted McCallion


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