Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum fans at large

14 July 2009, at the screening of Separation in London, UK


Sue's friend Ron, Peter Cohen, Sue Reid, Roland from BtP, Separation Director Jack Bond, Peter Christian, Al 'One-Eye' Edelist, Ian Hockley

One-Eye, Jack Bond, Henry Scott-Irvine

John Lock, Peter Cohen

Peter Cohen, Linda Clare, Peter Christian

Ian from Oman, One-Eye from California

Ian, One-Eye, Peter Christian

RC reports:
The film was very interesting, quite challenging in parts, alternately moving and funny. It's been brilliantly restored, but the sound is extremely loud. Jack Bond took questions, and mine was about the sound ... why he'd used such a saturated background sound, and how he'd chosen Matthew Fisher's music and Procol Harum. Matthew was introduced and got a good hand of applause, possibly led by the Procol brigade. Jack Bond described Matthew playing and writing on the Hammond at Bond's house, but didn't really answer the question!

In the foyer afterwards it was very nice to have a brief chat with Matthew. He suggested (a) that Bond had seemed quite keen to change the subject about the sound and that (b) I hadn't really asked the question I'd wanted answered, namely, how the music soundtrack came into being. These were fair comments!

Later Jack had a good chat with the Paler fraternity. It was Denny Cordell who'd recommended MF and PH to him. On being asked which of the music excerpts was by Stanley Myers, he replied 'the more pixellated parts' which was an interesting answer. He obviously feels sound in terms of light ... which may be related to his use of a very 'bright' soundtrack.

The Procol music was a savage edit of Salad Days, the familiar version; but the Theme from 'Separation' was a different and delightful version, organ and harpsichord. It set the tone excellently, and came back in various short, differently-treated forms. There was no other major music of Procolish type; but that didn't in any way detract from an excellent and very interesting evening.

It's perhaps not hard to see why the film has remained obscure. We view it now as a classic specimen of experimental narrative technique and daring camera work, representative of its era; it can't have been seen like that at the time! Judith Fisher mentioned she'd been at the premiere and (if I heard her aright) had seen it each time it's been shown. It would be interesting to know how many times that is. A little programme of notes was passed along each row, but when I got out I find that mine was not about Separation but about an entirely different show ... so I'm none the wiser. 

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