Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Well's on Fire

Richard Beck speculates

Richard Beck wrote to the Yahoo Procol list (11 October 2002) regarding the new Procol Harum studio album ...

"There are many opinions and wishes as to the possible content, as one would expect. So here is my two cents' worth:

"Personally, I would not care to hear sparkly new versions of any old stuff. It is old stuff and not likely to be rewritten, rearranged, or improved upon, (as evidenced by their persistent "live" versions) ... even though some old, unrecorded songs could use some improvements IMHO. I see no compelling reason for the band to revisit old material. While the current arrangement of As Strong as Samson has a certain upbeat appeal to it; few, if any, die-hard fans seem to prefer it over the original version. But there are some notable exceptions. Pandora's Box, for example, was expanded and vastly improved over the seminal demo that was sitting in their archives. That kind of use of "old" material would suit me just fine. In fact, I would dearly love to hear a fresh take on Maf's Separation to recapture some of that old Walpurgis groove.

"Now would be a good time for the boys to use their collective talents and creativity to present the world with a fresh representation of who they think Procol Harum is today. And hopefully they will can reflect on whatever mistakes that THEY feel were made during the Prodigal Stranger sessions and put that lesson to work for them. No one needs for me to suggest that one or two HIT songs would be fabbo. I am sure they always want to produce a hit record, just like any other artist.

"Evaluate their musical strengths and put them to work for them. I think that Robin Trower was underused on the Prodigal album. This time around I would hope that none of the members' virtuoso skills are neglected, and songs could be written and/or arranged with this in mind.

"In recent years the band has evolved away from using synths in concert, opting for a more pure and grassroots sound that was always their hallmark. I like the simplicity and naturalness of this approach, as it seems to allow the purity and richness of the words and music to shine through nicely. But I would not suggest that they stick to this approach just to suit me. Something grand and colorfully "overproduced" is their prerogative if they feel strongly about it. I support that as well. Hell, I LOVED the songs Grand Hotel and Something Magic. Just do what feels RIGHT and have a blast doing it, I say.

"Second guessing the critics is futile, but I think the band would be skewered if they revisit AWSoP just to throw in the other verses. They have ridden that pony long enough. For the completists out there, a well-produced "live" version is the only acceptable way to pull that off, and I could go for that. But I flip-flop, eh wot?

"We know from various interviews how all those fellows feel about how Prodigal Stranger was made, and I would hope that this time around is a thoughtful and collective effort that satisfies all their creative juices and sensitivities. All the essential elements are in place and should be in play for this eagerly-anticipated album.

"Hats off and God Speed fellas."

About the 2003 Procol Harum album

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