'Taking Turns in Trying to Pass it On'
Palers' Band in Manchester: liner note
One Circular Groove …
Little did we think, when the first Palers' Band gathered in September 2000 at Guildford, that a seed had been sown that would flower twice more in the space of a single year.
Listening to this recording of the third Palers' Band gig from June 2001, no-one can doubt that the genial humour, the musical ambitiousness, and the occasional hint of chaos are all clearly related to the Guildford experience. Perhaps this isn't surprising since 'Beyond the Pale' kept to the original formula: an international crew of like-minded fanatics gathering to replicate their favourite music in a spirit of pure enjoyment, after just a few hours' gestation.
But there are differences: lots of 'new' Procol songs get their amateur première here, some in interesting mutations of the originals in terms of key and arrangement. There are solo Brooker and Fisher morsels here that Procol Harum never played, and even a song none of them wrote, from a 1975 gig with Frankie Miller. All in all the Palers have tackled fifty different numbers now.
The Palers' Band to date has included 46 players: that first-generation Palers' Band had twenty musicians, and this Manchester descendant retains a nucleus of eight, hybridised with cousins from the Scandinavian branch (who played in Kristiansand the month before) and much fresh blood. I'd have loved to have rejoined the family (both musical and literal) for this Procol weekend, but pressing underwater commitments on the Great Barrier Reef kept me from the fun ... and, sadly, from hearing the progenitors of the whole affair, as Procol Harum themselves dropped in to listen, socialise, and play. Saddest of all was missing Sunday's Procol Harum / Hallé Orchestra gig, around which this fringe event had grown.
So ... here's hoping there will be more such occasions and more Palers' Bands, keeping to the same blueprint, and continuing the musical evolution. It's interesting to hear the female voices here and ... as in Norway too ... the increasing presence of a younger generation, born with this grand music in our genes. Some of the Guildford ancestors are much missed, but the bonus track features one exile, across the sea and far away: 'Doc' Wallace's touching tribute to the most famous fan of all, Douglas Noel Adams. So it seems very apt and poignant to hear DNA himself among the other devotees of Procol Harum music on this recording, taking turns in trying to pass it on.