Procol Harum

the Pale

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Black on White : SJPCD028

1 To Be Free

2 The Better Side

3 Attraction – Black On White

4 The Butt Of Deception

5 The Truth Is Plain To See

6 Childhood Reflections

7 Seeing Is Believing

8 You Won't Miss

9 Born Again

10 Decidedly Man

11 Relation

12 We Say No

13 The Game Is Over

14 The Better Side
(Working mix – single vocal)

15 The Butt of Deception
(working mix)

16 Born Again
(dry version)

(This is a revised track-listing: it was criticised on the Tenth Planet vinyl reissue a couple of years back. The original LP had a very limited release in Italy and during the following decades has been changing hands for in excess of £250 per copy!

Band member Mike Lease hunted through his attic and found not only the original masters but also two further tracks not released on the original LP. These are all on this CD)

Bobby Harrison, drums and percussion
Mike Lease, electric organ and piano
Ray Royer, lead guitar
Steve Shirley, bass and lead vocal


Freedom was formed in the late summer of 1967 by two ex-Procol Harum members, Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison. Ray had joined Procol Harum during its formation [sic] and Bobby at the later recording stage. Both Ray and Bobby were dismissed to make way for Gary Brooker's former companions from The Paramounts, Robin Trower and Barry [sic] Wilson.

Ray suggested forming a band together with Bobby and called it 'Freedom' after the Charles Mingus tune. This was used to open their live act throughout the duration of the band's existence. [It was also recorded by The Paramounts]

Jonathan Weston, Procol Harum's former manager, dismissed at the same time, was enlisted to manage Freedom and auditions took place to complete the line-up. Steve Shirley from Bilston, Staffordshire, was recruited for bass and vocals, declining to join the In Betweens, an early incarnation of Slade. Tony Marsh, ex-Tornado and Screaming Lord Sutch, a proving-ground for the Rock Illuminati (Matthew Fisher being one) completed the line-up on keyboards.

Rehearsals began and we were soon commissioned to write the score for the Dino de Lautentis [sic] production Attraction / Black on White. Due to the tight schedule imposed, Tony Marsh was replaced by Mike Lease, already an established session-player having recently recorded with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones for Beverley Martin's album. We wrote and recorded 14 titles within two months and used Olympic Studios with Eddie Kramer and Glyn Johns engineering. The band, collectively with Jonathan Weston, produced it. Mike picked the string and horn players, wrote out their parts and conducted them: he was 22 years old.

We were asked to appear in the film playing the songs as a commentary to a film virtually without dialogue. In its original format it was 100 minutes long but has since been edited to 60 minutes. We were given a flat in Mayfair for the duration of the filming which has appropriately since been converted to a night-club.

Directed by Tinto Brass, avant garde and risqué for its time, Attraction / Black on White was critically acclaimed at the following Cannes Film Festival though it was always destined to be an art film. We were invited to play at Dino De Laurentis New Year's Eve party in Monte Carlo for our first gig. Our début single, Where will you be tonight / Trying to get a glimpse of you was released on Mercury Records, produced by Mike. Interestingly Trying to get a glimpse of you is currently enjoying a revival among collectors of psychedelia. The second single Kandy Kay / Escape while you can made too many concessions to commerciality and the band in this format broke up soon after.

Mike went back to Wales to become a full-time music student and was replaced by Robin Lumsden, a former member of the Power Pack, as was Bobby.

Freedom hit the road, or was it the deck!

Until recently we had no idea of the existence of this recording and the fact that it has taken 30 years to surface is a tragedy. We would like to thank all those that made it possible for you to hear this record.

Ray Royer


 Mike Lease is currently active playing fiddle on the Welsh and Irish folk scenes. Steven Shirley is still writing brilliant songs. Bobby Harrison went on to form various line-ups of Freedom and later SNAFU and a highly successful solo career. Ray Royer concentrates on Philosophy and Classical Guitar.


Procol Harum announced on Wednesday that it had reached an amicable settlement with guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison, ending the dispute which followed their departure from the group last month. Royer and Harrison -- who will not be returning -- had previously claimed unjustifiable sacking, and maintained the group was not entitled to use the name Procol Harum without them.

The Harum's follow-up to A Whiter Shade of Pale will be released simultaneously throughout the Western Hemisphere in the third week of September. The group's first LP, simply titled Procol Harum was issued in America this week -- it will, however, be substantially altered for release in this country in October.

The label on which Procol's follow-up will appear has not yet been revealed - neither has the new outlet for The Move, who are under the same management as Procol Harum. Both groups have left Deram and it is being widely speculated that their future outlet will be through EMI.

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Additional Sleeve Note:

For a brief period in 1967-68 these four excellent players formed a truly magnificent combo and recorded a fantastic collection of songs, which in reality was a classic album, nothing like your average film soundtrack of a few catchy theme tunes and a lot of 'fillers' and adits [sic]. You can bemoan the fact that fame and fortune eluded them or you can choose instead to sit back and enjoy some truly magnificent music.

So why haven't you heard about it before, you may wonder? In fact even the group themselves never heard about this LP until recently, when they were approached in connection with this current release. At the time they thought they were writing no more than a film score. No one informed them about the very limited LP release, which occurred in Italy the following year.

The film itself didn't fare much better. It got well received in Cannes but soon after its Director became unpopular with the Italian Inland Revenue and had to leave the country in a hurry. He later became a successful director, in Hollywood, producing such box-office hits as King Kong and Flash Gordon but his 1968 film re-titled Black on White (in Italian Nerosubianco) faded into obscurity apart from the occasional re-run on Italian TV, in a heavily-edited version.

In many ways this LP could be described as 'the Great, Lost Procol Harum Album': Steve Shirley sounds uncannily like Gary Brooker in places, though there is a sensitivity in his voice which Brooker rarely reaches. Mike Lease comes from a background similar to that of Matthew Fisher - one track on the LP is even titled The Truth Is Plain To See!, (a line taken from a Procol big hit single - check out the organ solo on this one!). But there are also inspirations which sadly eluded Procol Harum: the magnificent 'cooking' beat and 'funky' feel for which Bobby Harrison must mainly be held responsible. In fact Harrison's drumming throughout the record is fantastic, loose and groovy in a Charlie Watts kind-of-way. Finally ay [sic] Royer's magnificent 'out of this worlds' [sic] psychedelic guitar work is miles away from the strict blues playing of Procol's Robin Trower (in fact, Ray Royer himself quotes his biggest inspiration as being James Burton).

Other comparisons come to mind, mainly highly successful acts like Traffic and the Kinks. But basically this album is unique. There were a lot of fine psychedelic singles released in the UK around this time, but good psychedelic albums were genuinely few and far between.

This is one of the very best.

Liner note copyright Claes Johansen, quoted by permission

FREEDOM have a new single released on January 17 on the Plexium label, distributed by EMI. The A side is Candy Kay, written by bass guitarist Steve Shirley and has the group augmented by a brass section. The B side, Escape While You Can, was written by guitarist Ray Royer.

Freedom appear with Ten Years After at Hampstead Country Club on January 12. Other dates include London's Revolution (17) and Speakeasy (18). They go to Germany for a week at the end of this month.

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Footnote: Mike Lease.

Originally designed for film track only, this is a mono recording: untypical for the late 60s. The present album is taken from a quarter-inch master copy fortunately, though unwittingly, preserved, more or less intact, by Mike Lease for a thirty year appointment with rock posterity.

Though the quality is generally surprisingly good, there are one or two technical blips, including the occasional drop-out. Despite this the band thought it preferable, on balance, to release the album in its naked entirety, carbuncles and all, and trust that the critical listener will exercise forbearance with the odd imperfection.

Wondered what had happened to Bobby Harrison and Ray Royer after their much-publicised split with Procol Harum.

Tracked around and discovered Freedom, the outfit the boys founded two months after the break-up. Freedom is very appropriate for the new group. Bobby and Ray, together with Steve Shirley and Mike Lease, work together but each following their own individual style. Procol Harum stifled their outlets because they had to conform to one style, part of the reason for the split. Says Ray: 'We waited a long time after Procol Harum to get another group together, simply because we were determined that we would have the right two people with us. In fact, I spent ten pounds in phone calls to Mike persuading him to join, and Steve we found after hearing some tapes of records he'd made that had never been released.'

First venture for the Freedom, a full-length colour feature film for which they provided the score. First airing for Attraction, the film's name, will be at the Cannes Film Festival later this year.

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A sort of comic strip

Is this the ultimate in publicity exposure? A pop group appearing in the nude? In fact they're not completely unclad despite appearances. They're wearing panties under their guitars. And in another sense too they’ve not yet bared themselves to the public. They have yet to issue a record. The photograph is a shot from a film sequence.

The group is called Freedom, a break-away faction from Procol Harum. The film, made for Dino de Laurentis, and directed by Tinto Brass, is called Attraction. They're hoping it will be shown at next year's Cannes Film Festival, and Freedom have written fourteen songs for it.

They are managed by Jonathan Weston, a 23-year-old ex public school boy from Rugby. The film, he hopes, will launch the group in a big way in America. 'It wouldn't get past the censors in Italy' he told Michael Bateman. 'It's very symbolic. You might say phallic. Chicks lying around with no clothes on. But mind you, from the rushes I saw, the scenes were very tastefully done. It's a fantasy about a woman, her husband, and her lover. The woman's got some kind of sexual conflict, and practically everyone she sees in the film she sees dressed and undressed.'

The girl's fantasy world is reflected by cutting into a gigantic happening, and environmental light-display which was filmed at the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm. Burps, coughs, sneezes and other noises are transmitted by way of an oscilloscope on to three closed-circuit TV screens. Sound impulses are turned into light impulses, and the resulting pictures in colour are mixed together. The music is in the same style, blending electronic sounds, harpsichords, and a string quartet.

It's unusual for a group to make a film before a record, but Freedom's not the usual sort of out fit. They're militantly anti-commercial, and go on about how beastly the business is. Mike Lease, Welsh and 21, is the arranger. He has a classical background, and tried to flee the pop scene, but was hauled back into it by manager Weston. 'I hate the percentage scene, the publicity scene, and all this rubbish. You get a whole lot of middle men, and many of them are just parasites. But if you're not commercial you can't have money to hire recording studios, vans, equipment, and you can't survive.'

If the new nudist gimmick, [sic] caught on, would they repeat the act on stage? Lease thinks not: 'It's not my scene.' Steve Shirley, described in Freedom's publicity as 'a heart-breaker' says he'd be too embarrassed. Bobby Harrison, former Procol Harum man, and a likely footballer who was in West Ham's nursery side, says he'd do it if the money was right. And small, fuzzy-haired Ray Royer, billed as 'a mystical, dreamy, elf-like man who claims to have twice gone round the magic circle of meditation' feels much the same way. 'I'd strip off if I wanted too [sic]. But it would have to be spontaneous. This Saturday maybe.'

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Order from Angel Air

Claes Johansen's Procol Harum book


Buy Freedom CDs from Amazon USA

Buy this CD from Amazon UK

A page about the Tinto Brass movie, Black on White

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