About Chris Copping's comments on 'Beyond the Pale'
Chris Copping wrote to BtP about Claes Johansen's Procol Harum : Beyond the Pale : his remarks are published here; BtP has now (March 2000) received some additional notes on Chris's remarks from Procol historian Frans Steensma:
- Not only is it not true that Robin lost his mother at a very early age, he wasn't born in the countryside either. As any Trower biography rightfully states, Robin was born in Catford (London SE6). How much more working-class can you get? The birth date in the book is also wrong (should be 9 March 1945). Talking about birth dates: those quoted for Reid and Harrison are both wrong too.
- "Page 20-21 is riddled with errors ..:" says Chris. An obvious one is 'Duffy Power and the Dreamers' (!). Can you imagine what that combination must have looked like? Duffy Power and Freddie and the Dreamers both were aboard the Royal Daffodil on 18 June 1961, when The Paramounts backed Tommy Bruce (not Ricky Valance) on the Rock Across The Channel gig to Calais. I don't think by the way that this gig (The Shadows with the Marvin / Welch / Harris / Meehan line-up were top of the bill) was pre-Paramounts, as The Coasters changed their name to The Paramounts in October 1960.
- Page 22. CC played with The Paramounts at the Shades for exactly 15 months (1 October 1961 - Christmas 1962). I'll skip over my Paramounts remarks [eg (page 30) Pride And Joy + Do I were not recorded in October 1964, but on 14 May 1964; (page 34) who is 'Payne Carroll', who wrote Draw Me Closer (should be two persons); and (page 34) I don't know any flipside called Don't You Like My Kind Of Love] and go on to Procol.
- Page 130. CC is right: Liquorice John Death was belted out after finishing recording Home. Chris Thomas states in the liner notes of Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About: "A few months after Home was released we booked Abbey Road no.2 from 7pm to 7am to record as much as we could etc." This was in September 1970 (not January 1970 as is in the book). The addition of Jack Lancaster on sax is obvious too. As well as being a friend of BJ's he had supported Procol with his band Blodwyn Pig on several US dates that summer.
- Page 132. CC is right in his praise for Whisky Train. I have the Emidisc Whisky Train acetate (recorded 16.2.1970), which has this really fat bass sound on it. Procol rocked on this one like never before! No wonder when Chris had just joined and Procol guested on the Bob Rooyens-directed Dusty Springfield Show (for German TV) at the end of 1969 they chose to play Whisky Train. And when in February 1970 Procol performed in a Dutch TV show (Grand Gala Du Disque) again they picked Whisky Train.
- Page 135. "Their live sound wasn't particularly impressive at the time. They played a harsh sounding set at the Isle Of Wight." CC objects. Rightfully so. Procol's set was showered with praise in all the reviews at the time (and by Mojo recently). When I saw them play Your Own Choice and Juicy John Pink (on film) it was very impressive. The wind and cold nearly blew them from the stage, but boy did they rock! Trower + Copping standing next to each other, playing their guts out, GB's vocals in top shape and with a hard-hitting BJ driving them to the limit: live Procol at their rocking best! Talking about BJ: in the book (page 129) it says he played on Joe Cocker's With A Little Help From My Friends session in 1967, when actually this session took place on 17 June 1968. BJ was interviewed for the book 'in Denmark in 1984' (page 10) when he toured with Cocker. Impossible, as BJ had left by then.
- Page 135. The Philly bootleg is in fact WPLJ (12 April 1971). Correct. It has been bootlegged many times (The Elusive Procol Harum and Shine On Live on LP, Robin's Last Stand (first part) on CD) but it's all the same recording
- Page 135 + 137. There's no mention in the book about BB being the first 16 track recording. Correct. Keith Reid: "Poor Mohammed was the first track we recorded. It was our first time in the AIR, London, studios. Those luxury rooms George Martin has in Oxford Street, London, and we were just finding out the sounds of the studio. We were really knocked out." The mistake of George Martin doing the Simple Sister orchestration probably comes from the fact that these were his studios.
- Page 138. The UK Jethro Tull tour was September/October 1970 (not 1971). CC is again right. The programme calls Procol Harum Special Guests. Support act was Tir Na Nog (this duo was produced by Maff in 1973, it's a small world..).
- Page 161. CC: "Pete Solley should not be criticised. I thought his modern keyboard sound gave us a kick up the 70s." Good to hear that from his predecessor. What I really missed in the book is the account of Solley's activities after leaving Procol. Not one word about Solley being by far the most successful ex-Procol player! He was one of the most successful producers in the USA in the eighties. The list of acts he produced is highly impressive (Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, John 'St Elmo's Fire' Parr, Mountain plus about 20 others). He played with Whitesnake after leaving Procol and Hammond B3 with Eric Clapton on Money and Cigarettes in 1983. He wrote (and produced) Talking In Your Sleep for The Romantics (a number 3 hit in the States in 1983) and generously 'gave' the group co-credits. Scored two Top 5 UK hits with Fox in 1975/1976. I could go on but I hope this says enough.
CORRECT CHRONOLOGY … some small corrections:
- '71-72 Starts recording Grand Hotel. Wrong. Procol started recording Grand Hotel (five tracks) in June 1972 at AIR, London (with Dave on lead).
- 'Summer 1972. Scandinavian tour after Rainbow Concert.' Partly correct. Procol flew after a few British gigs to France, then went to Austria, Switzerland and Germany (all with a 40-piece orchestra conducted by Eberhard Schoener plus a boys' choir), then the reported Scandinavian tour and finally ending at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
- 'April 1973. First US tour with Mick'. Wrong. In November 1972 Procol began their 15th US tour supported by Steeleye Span and Tir Na Nog (with Mick on lead). When Procol returned at the end of November they re-started Grand Hotel.
Hope this sets the record straight.