Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Procol Harum Project

Radio spot, 24 September 2007

The Procol Harum Project were on Danish Radio P4 (English translation below) on Friday 24 September 9 between 14.00 and 15.00. Drummer Poul Achton (who also plays live with Dave Ball) was interviewed by Hans Otto Bisgaard about the PHP's trip to London in July, where they played at Procol Harum's 40th anniversary party; and a couple of songs from their demo-CD were scheduled too.

If you did not have the opportunity to listen to the above broadcast – in which drummer Poul Achton from the Procol Harum Project talked for about 23 minutes with Hans Otto Bisgaard about the band's trip to London where they played at Procol Harum's 40th party – you can listen to it on netradio on until Friday 31 August. Select P4, look for 'Fredag på farten' in the third column, and click to listen. The Procol content cuts in after a while, heralded by a magnificent live orchestral AWSoP from Ledreborg 2006.

Three songs [Conquistador, An Old English Dream, A Christmas Camel] from the PHP demo-CD were played and Poul told their story: how it all began after the Ledreborg-concerts last summer, when Søren Borello joined The Palers' Band and became so excited about that wonderful music that he went straight home and gathered a Procol Harum Project band. Poul also told about PHP's 2007 trip to London, and spoke the wonderful days they had together with the Palers' Band – the warm atmosphere – the different musical backgrounds and how the love of the music made it possible to play together in spite of other differences.

Hans Otto Bisgaard’s interview with Poul Achton – drummer in the Danish Procol Harum Project on the Danish radio P4 in ”Fredag på farten”, 14.25 hours on 24 August 2007.

Hans Otto Bisgaard
And this year it is forty years since the legendary group Procol Harum suddenly broke through and was heard all over the world, and just because of one song, but what a song! It became a classic and will remain so for all time. Last year’s Castle Concert at Ledreborg was with Procol Harum and The Danish Radio Entertainment Orchestra and The Danish Radio Choir. And from the one-year-old Castle concert we shall hear one of the greatest classics ever made:

[A Whiter Shade of Pale plays ... Procol Harum, orchestra and chorus]

Yes, and thank you to Mr Gary Brooker. The whole of Procol Harum agreed that they had never been supported by a better ensemble than The Danish Radio Entertainment Orchestra and The Danish Radio Choir. A recording from last summer’s Ledreborg Castle concert.

And among the people lying or sitting in the grass listening to the music was Poul Achton. And Poul – on the telephone – tell me – what did you think about the concert?

Poul Achton
It was really a great experience for me to be there and many times a tear fell from my eyes. And I had my brother and my close family with me, and it was so fantastic for me to hear Procol Harum live with a symphony orchestra – not since the Edmonton Live concert I had heard anything like that. It has a fantastic effect when there’s a big choir and orchestra on too – so it was a wet-eyes afternoon, I would say.

But Poul – what can make a reasonable grown-up man like yourself shed tears like that?

Actually it has always been easy for me to let a tear fall. But when I looked at my brother, who never does such a thing, and saw his red eyes, I asked him if he had problems with his hay fever. Then he said that he had to admit that he was really touched by the great music. And that’s what beautiful music does to you, and that’s how it has always been with me: but on this occasion it was really special.

Who introduced you to Procol Harum?

Back in the seventies my brother introduced me to Procol Harum when he bought Broken Barricades, and that’s why I especially love that record, and when he went on to other things I held on to Procol Harum and bought Grand Hotel and I loved to listen to that music. And for many years I dreamed of one day getting the opportunity to play that music myself.

Yes Poul, and actually that happened. Because last year at Ledreborg the so-called Palers, who are completely obsessed with that music, came from all over the world, gathering in Lejre: and also Søren Borello from Denmark turned up and the Procol Harum Project was born. Because Søren Borello sings and plays the piano.

Yes, that’s right. The thing that happened was, Søren had for the first time signed up as a Paler. Usually the Palers meet every other year a couple of days before Procol Harum concerts to play Procol music and to perform it after Procol Harum shows with Procol Harum as special guests. And there Søren joined the Palers and they liked his voice and allowed him to sing a lot of songs. And Søren was so thrilled by this experience that he went straight home to try to find musicians to start a Procol Harum cover-band. And when I saw his advert on the internet, I called him at once in order to be the drummer in that band. And, only two weeks after the Ledreborg concerts, the band was a reality.

Yes, and you play the drums Poul, and it’s Benny Tworek on the Hammond, Claus Nielsen on guitar, and of course Palle Bas plays the Bass and Søren is the lead singer and piano player: and the Procol Harum Project was a reality.

[Conquistador plays ... The Procol Harum Project]

Procol Harum Project – five mature gentlemen playing the music of Procol Harum, and here one of Procol Harum’s classics: Conquistador! And Poul Achton, drummer in this project: 1967 is the year that Procol Harum broke through and it is now forty years ago and because of that Procol Harum held their fortieth anniversary in London this summer, in which you as a band were involved too, both as audience and as musicians. And musicians (Palers) from all over the world gathered there and you were somehow put in groups?

Yes, we decided – all of us – to go over there. And there we met the Palers, who came – as you just said – from all corners of the world. And there we had three days to rehearse 24 songs, which we performed in that church in London, where Procol Harum also were to give their two birthday concerts.

But although you didn’t know each other you were just put in different groups together!

Yes, Jens and Roland coordinated all that – considering the information we had given about ourselves when we signed up as members of the Palers’ Band in the beginning of May – stating our musical level and how much we would like to be involved. And then Roland and Jens decided which songs we should do and also decided who should play what with whom. And then music sheets and ideas were exchanged on the internet and everybody prepared themselves to be ready to play together in London.

But Poul – some of them must have been better musicians than others. How did you cope with that?

Yeah, but that's the great secret and joy about the Palers. They have held on to the concept that started the whole thing and that is - that the important thing about it is the joy of the music. So even if you had a drummer or whatever, who was not completely sharp, he was not disqualified. No, everybody did their best. Everybody was welcome to join in. That’s the spirit of the Palers – the love of the wonderful music of Procol Harum. We simply helped each other through and of course we were extremely proud of ourselves when we played in that church, St. John’s Smith’s Square, where Procol Harum themselves also gave their two birthday concerts.

And there you played in different combinations. But you also had the opportunity to play as a band as the Danish Procol Harum Project?

Yes, we had made that agreement with Roland and Jens that they would let us play one song together, just the five of us, as the Procol Harum Project. So we played the first number in the second set. We played An Old English Dream, which is one of my favourites. A new song from Procol Harum’s latest CD.

[An Old English Dream plays ... The Procol Harum Project]

The Danish Procol Harum Project, here playing the song An Old English Dream. The same song that you – Poul Achton and the rest of the boys – played at Procol Harum's fortieth anniversary where Procol Harum themselves also played of course. And of course – as you say – during those days in London you were deeply moved – I mean – the unique fellowship and friendship of the Palers, the music and so on.

Yes, we suddenly got a lot of new friends and we keep in contact with each other on the internet. It’s like joining a music course on a Danish music school, and suddenly new contacts are made – the rings spread and you do new things with new people.

Gradually in the Procol Harum Project you have built up quite a repertoire. Have you got lots to do. Are there many gigs?

Yes, there have been private parties and we also played in the Danish ‘Bella Centre’ in Copenhagen before we went to London. There are plans and things which haven’t been decided yet, but actually we have a gig in Køge in February. And of course on our website you can book us and we have our Demo CD.

Yes, and your website is And Poul – now there are only ten years until Procol Harum’s fiftieth anniversary.

I can hardly wait. And at that time we will have our eleventh anniversary. It’s going to be a great party, I promise you. Maybe Procol Harum will come and play together with us then.

And are you sure that all of you mad fans will stick together still?

I’m sure that we will all be there. It was my first experience with the Palers. But I tell you, they are hardcore fans. They will stick together and hold on to the end and we will do too – I’m sure. The music of Procol Harum is so rich, with so many exciting details, that there will always be more to explore and to enjoy and to play together. So we will still be there in ten years’ time. You won’t get rid of us!

I wish you good luck with the project and we will just listen to one more song from your Demo.

[A Christmas Camel plays... The Procol Harum Project]

And here Procol Harum Project plays one more of the great songs of Procol Harum. One of those things we can go on and on discussing is the meaning of the lyrics. Nobody has ever really found out, and that’s one of those peculiar things about this fantastic English Band. The song was called A Christmas Camel. And what is a Christmas camel? Well, that can be discussed on and on and on! About Procol Harum Project – you can read more about them on their website

Thanks, Søren, for transcribing / translating

More about The Procol Harum Project  | PHP's own website

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