Interviewed at the excellent SongFacts ē read the rest online here
[Pete Brown's] latest contribution is to another rather noteworthy British group, Procol Harum, whose 2017 album Novum has lyrics by Brown. The lead single is Sunday Morning, which finds him 'exploring all the different shades of living.'
Did you write the song Sunday Morning on Novum?
Thatís a terrific song. Can you tell me about writing that song and what the lyrics convey?
It was inspired by an old Joe Turner song [Sunday Morning Blues], Big Joe Turner that is, where heís got this line:
Iím in blue every Saturday
But each Sunday morning I feel all right
I go to church and make peace with my maker
And then go home and make love to my wife
Itís got a bit of a spirit there. Itís slightly gospelly the way that Gary [Brooker] phrased it. Itís about a working-class person who does what he does and works hard and plays hard.
And then, the next two songs also touch on God. Was there a theme you were developing there?
Well, I had met Gary a couple of times but I didnít know him at all. I actually happened to have been present at one of the first-ever gigs of Procol Harum, at the UFO club in London in Ď67. And I always liked his work and I liked Keith Reidís work. Keith and Gary had split up, and when they were thinking about a new record, they thought about me doing it. So, they put us together and Gary and I had a very brief meeting. I said, ĎGot any ideas for a theme?í and he said, ĎYeah, Ten Commandments.í I said, ĎOK.í
We drifted way away from that, but there are elements in there that were inspired by the idea. So itís not about God really, itís more about a rock and roll manager who I happened to have had the misfortune of being managed by. But we took off from some original ideas that were in that direction and then we went somewhere else.
Harumís mainstay is Gary Brooker, who formed the band in 1967, the year their
majestic debut single, A Whiter Shade of Pale, was released.
Novum (Latin for Ďnewí) is the groupís fourteenth album, their first since 2003. The cover was illustrated by Julia Brown [no relation] using the bandís dťbut from fifty years earlier as a guidepost.
That makes a lot more sense now. So, Last Chance Motel would be the Ďdo not covet thy neighbourís wifeí commandment?
Actually itís more adultery, but yes, itís that kind of thing. The Neighbour one is coveting, but we tried to make them universal.
Iím not sure about Gary, but Iím absolutely not religious at all. I grew up Jewish but not having any particular regard for religion or gods or anything. So, Iím on the other side of the coin.
Iím guessing that Image of the Beast is the song thatís about the manager that did you wrong.
The Image of the Beast, itís a funny thing. The Image of the Beast is about greed, but thereís a terrific book by the American science fiction writer, Philip Josť Farmer. Itís like a kind of science fiction, pornographic, great Raymond Chandler kind of a book about LA. Itís very, very fantastical and very bizarre and itís called Image of the Beast. I got some ideas out of that really. Iím a big science fiction fan, especially from Ď50s and Ď60s and Ď70s stuff.
Did you write Neighbour?
Thatís a fun little song.
Oh, yes. I always try to bring a lot of humour to these things, where itís appropriate. And funnily enough I Told on You, originally I sketched out a lot of these things quite a long time ago and then time passed by and then we eventually got down to it but, I Told On You seems now to be about Brexit and some of the stuff thatís happened because of that, but that was completely unintentional at the time. One of my prophetic songs, you know.
See also here
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Procol Harum albums