Nick Jones in Melody Maker, 28 October 1967
Did this article really respond to a controversy, or was it an attempt to start one? Interesting reading, and interesting too to wonder where Gary Brooker was on this occasion, when his bandmates appear uncharacteristically garrulous
Why do so many people criticise Procol Harum’s Homburg hit for sounding like A Whiter Shade of Pale?
‘It’s not like A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ said Robbie Trower, guitarist. ‘It’s a different rhythm,’ said Dave Knights, bass guitarist. ‘A different tune altogether,’ said BJ, drummer. ‘Different words too,’ said Matthew Fisher, organist. ‘In fact the only thing that’s the same is the group,’ said Dave, ‘and even that isn’t! Robbie and BJ joined after A Whiter Shade of Pale.’
Could Procol Harum’s follow-up to A Whiter Shade of Pale have possibly sounded any different? Obviously, no – because the group is Procol Harum – and that is their music. A Whiter Shade of Pale was a giant, worldwide hit record made by a group who had their own, unique sound. And Homburg is just as much Procol Harum. It’s their sound.
Some people say Homburg wouldn’t have been a hit without A Whiter Shade of Pale. Enter scribe Keith Reid – the man behind the group: ‘That’s rubbish! There were 20,000 advance orders for Homburg so that’s how many it sold on the strength of A Whiter Shade of Pale. And now it’s sold over 100,000 copies, is doing fantastically well in America and crashed into the Australian top ten the day it was released. That’s not because of A Whiter Shade of Pale: that’s because of its own merit.’
Do Procol feel there is resentment of success – and especially resentment of Procol Harum because their success was so quick, so decisive? ‘It’s a natural reaction,’ said Dave, ‘but it is about time people stopped being so stupid about success. It’s a ridiculous thing to keep going on like that. The people who say things like that just don’t listen.’
‘Let’s face it,’ smiled BJ, ‘most people were running down Procol Harum’s follow-up even before they heard it! They seemed to want to run it down and say we couldn’t do it again – which really is stupid because it is that very attitude which is going to discourage and prejudice people against pop music – and certainly will just shut down their minds and their ears to new, original and progressive records that take some listening to before you can grasp the full meaning. What I don’t understand is that everybody liked the sound of A Whiter Shade of Pale but objects to the sound of ` Homburg, which is ridiculous.’
Picture sleeves | Procol history at this website