Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Alpha Days, Part 2

David Evans, for BtP

This is the author's own, fascinating research ... it's not been endorsed or validated by the band ... so read, mark, inwardly digest, and draw your own conclusions! To get the most out of it, read the previous instalments first

Advision Sound Studios, London 19 April 1967

This session is credited to Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights, Ray Royer, and Bobby Harrison (Procol Harum Ib)

Here an attempt is made to re-record AWSoP and record a B-side with Harrison on drums.  

An AWSoP stereo mix from this session was mixed down by Tom Moulton in 1997 for the 30th Anniversary Anthology and credited to this line-up.

The EP claimed their version, mixed down by Rob Keyloch in January 2017, to be unavailable anywhere other than on this release’ and Peter Bourne states here ‘it’s NOT the same stereo alternate take of AWSoP ‘. But, to my ears, it is disappointingly indistinguishable from the 30th Anniversary Tom Moulton mix -- both with no obvious input from Royer’s guitar in the mix.


In 2003, Classic Records released a vinyl package of ‘Procol Harum’ including a stereo single of AWSoP/Lime Street Blues recorded at this session. They claim here to have ‘turned up a box from Ad Sound Studios in London, dated "April 1967" and marked, simply, "Whiter Shade of Pale plus takes." It contained ‘three different, unmixed recordings of the song, each slightly different from one another and from the "official" single.’

They were very enthusiastic about the "committed" performance they chose for their limited edition 7” vinyl release. In particular how their mix allowed Ray Royer’s guitar contribution to be heard for the first time!

Unfortunately I have never heard this track, but if it as described, it should be noticeably different from the familiar bonus track take on the EP. 

2. Lime Street Blues -- recorded Advision Sound Studios, London on 19 April 1967

Credited to Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights, Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison.

The EP includes the B-side mono AWSoP single (the only recognised contribution of Royer/Harrison on an original release). For whatever reason, no official stereo version of the B-side has yet met the light of day although a good sounding ‘stereo’ version has appeared on YouTube here.

The Lime Street Blues stereo mix on the EP is a new previously unavailable take also mixed down by Rob Keyloch in January 2017. Longer at 4 mins 25 than both the original 3 mins and the 2003 Classic Records B-side 2.53 here.

Really surprising neither has ever turned up on an official Procol CD compilation.

As for Royer’s contribution, Peter Bourne states he ‘acquits himself very well on Lime Street.

3. Salad Days (Are Here Again)  

Olympic Studios, London on 29 March 1967

Credited to Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights, Ray Royer, and Bill Eyden

First heard Procol Harum : 2CD Deluxe Expanded mixed down by Rob Keyloch in 2008, again with Royer’s guitar missing/reduced to inaudible.


This is the first time I have seen Bill Eyden credited with the drumming on this take (the initial spark to this research!). The same take (same drums) with guitar is on the Westside Procol Harum Plus album mixed down by Nick Smith and Tony Rounce in 1997. Although the liner notes claimed it was recorded in ‘late summer 1967’ it was assumed to be a Harrison/Royer take. In his review at the time Roland Clare was far from complimentary describing Salad Days here ‘as alternate as one could wish for. Ragged time-keeping, blurred and wandering guitar, pubby, ill-recorded piano: it sounds extraordinarily amateurish. .. Harrison’s drumming lacks subtlety: climaxes are missed, conventional fills failing to fit the odd seven-bar gap between verses”.

Assuming that both alternates of Salad Days are different mixes of the same take (ie Royer’s guitar removed), is it possible that Harrison was also involved in this 29 March session?

Bobby Harrison himself here says while Bill Eyden played on A Whiter Shade of Pale he ‘was sitting in the studio. But I’d only joined the band that night!”

While Bill Eyden stated here ‘The other drummer [Harrison] was there – I can still see him sitting over in the corner. But I don’t think I was even introduced to him.

Is it likely that the same musicians who created the perfect AWSoP take also produced the ‘extraordinarily amateurish’ Salad Days!?

4. Alpha Olympic Studios, London on 29 March 1967

Credited to Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights, Ray Royer, and Bill Eyden

The take on the EP was previously released on the Salvo 40th Anniversary Edition (like Salad Days mixed down by Rob Keyloch in 2008). Bill Eyden is credited with the drums and Royer’s guitar is again missing from the mix. Salvo also claim : ‘Alpha was originally intended to be the A-side of the single. Yes, producer Denny Cordell had actually considered AWSoP as the B-side’!!

A different Alpha take, with guitar and less organ, was on the Westside Shine on Brightly (like the Westside Salad Days mixed down by Nick Smith and Tony Rounce in 1997). They claimed here ‘the studio tape-box states that Alpha was recorded in 1968, along with Pandora’s Box and MacGreggor.’)! As the guitar playing is undoubtedly Royer it was not recorded in 1968.

Its presence on the 1968 tape, with other ‘unused’ tracks, was presumably for potential inclusion/re-recording on either Shine on Brightly LP or the B-side of a single? The best assumption is that both Alpha takes were recorded at the 29 March session.

This is one of several occasions when a track, found a dated tape, has been presented as recorded on that date; when the evidence suggests it was recorded far earlier. 

Bill Eyden is, therefore, the drummer on this track (unless Bobby Harrison had an input in this session!)   

Whether or not Harrison contributed, the actual mixes used on this EP effectively removed Royer from the Olympic Studios session on 29 March 1967! 

5. ‘Easter egg track’.

A mono ‘instrumental’, credited, on the disc only, to Brooker/Fisher, made in 1967’!! It is not stated at which (if either) of the two sessions it was recorded, nor any of the musicians involved. Again as Peter Bourne states ‘There is some great soloing from Brooker on piano and Fisher (an unabashed admirer of Booker T Jones) on Hammond, but there’s a nice surprise in some very nice guitar work, probably (!) from young Mr Royer. Obviously, had he been there (?), Trower would have killed it, but Royer acquits himself very well indeed. We have too few examples of his guitar work with Procol, and it’s probably better than some would like to admit.

Has anyone any more information about this mysterious ‘Easter egg track’?

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