Procol Harum

the Pale

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At the Palers' Convention

Sam Cameron's PH talk and his messages

Text / Account of Sam Cameron's Talk 0n Cover Versions, Guildford Civic Hall, 16 September 2000

The talk began late, about 19.50, following an introduction by Roland and Jens. Cliff Hilton operated the CD player with aplomb.

It's amazing that we're all here tonight for an event tomorrow that we thought might never come – that's right, Bob Dylan is playing Glasgow: I was a bit worried there that some people might run out for a 'plane because they were at the wrong gig.

It's a great honour to have this slot in the proceedings. There was a lot of competition. Keith Reid wanted to do it but he was too busy writing the words for the next Procol Harum album. I understand that Beverly at least was offering huge sums of money, and free haircuts, for the honour.

Right: mostly this is short bursts of music and short bursts of introduction, but I will also read dedications from and to various internet people. I appreciate that there are non-net persons here too and probably one of the main consequences of tonight is they will overcome their fears of signing up once they see how normal the people online really are.

Anyway to get started. I think we need reminding of the words of the song that has brought us all here today. So the first clip is a recitation of those and that will go straight into a burst of a very good reggae version with what I suppose we have to call 'toasting' of the words..

1. Dall Varmint [compete recitation of AWSoP] runs into Wailin' Souls' AWSoP

Thanks, that was the esteemed Dall Varmint sounding freshly-escaped from a Disney cartoon. That was taken from something called the 'crap covers' website. The second clip was the Wailin' Souls, sounding like very close relatives of Bob Marley.

Now, to move on. Of course when A Whiter Shade of Pale was a big hit some people could hear cash registers ringing in large amounts. At least one pair of hack songwriters who masterminded various groups, notably the Tremeloes, borrowed the overall concept for the Herd who featured a young Peter Frampton – but he is not the deep-voiced singer on this cut. After a little of the Herd we will hear a song from a Hindu film which borrows from the melody of A Whiter Shade of Pale.

2. Sad (The Herd) runs into Tum Ho Mere Dilki Dhadkan.

Thanks. We probably all agree that there are better words around than those on the first clip which was called Sad, and as for the second I would be most surprised if anyone here knows what they mean although I reckon that the title Tum Ho Mere Dilki Dhadkan means 'My Heart Beats for You' … and it is described as a love song.

Well it's been completely Pale up to this point so maybe it's time to put on our Homburg on in a manner which is reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies. Anybody heard of the Cowboy Junkies? {a few cheers and raised hands}. Their singer is described as having "five-miles-an-hour vocals" and the second clip here is in that area. This is actually two Homburgs joined together with the dobro solo in the first meeting the violin solo in the second:

3. Homburg - Jon Langford (live) joins Sally Timms [during the Sally Timms, Dave Ball, who is sat at the front, opines that it is 'lift' music']

That was Jon Langford followed by Sally Timms, both sometime members of a band from Leeds, Yorkshire, called the Mekons. You can't tell from that clip but apparently she does impersonations of the more avant-garde works of Yoko Ono at benefit gigs and drinks quite a lot. No sign of a duet version on the horizon.

Now it's time we offered some thanks to the webmasters for all the pleasure and stimulation they bring to regular loggers-on to the Beyond the Pale website. It keeps them incredibly busy for no material return other than the odd free record, and yet some people seem to think they are living in mansions from some huge arts foundation grant that mysteriously appears in their bank accounts.

Tribute from Beverly Peyton

It was barely two years ago when Franky and Gary informed me about a website dedicated to Procol Harum. It was easy to hear how impressed they were, but I could see in their faces just how much it meant and I knew I had to see for myself.

It was early March of '99 when I finally logged on as procolpeyton. What I found was the most brilliant community of people and two of the most incredible gents, by the name of Jens and Roland, both of whom at first glance I dubbed "the bats" as neither of them appeared to sleep!

Fortunately, they saw the need for a hair salon at BtP and Jens even took a trip to Fort Lauderdale to test my worthiness. I managed to meet his standards and was granted a harubiliapage all to myself.

All kidding aside, I sincerely doubt any of this would be occurring if it weren't for their good graces, spent day in and day out reaching for a common goal in preserving this extraordinary band of musicians that we have all loved for so long. With all due respect, I do wish to extend a
MAMMOTH 'thank you' to both Jens and Roland ... from Beyond the Pale and from the bottom of my heart, as I am sure everyone here would also like to do.


Poor Roland receives an awful lot of e-mails and of course many of them are queries. But not many of you know that dozens of those queries have been from a lost tribe of carpenters who are desperate to hear A Salty Dog played on the saw. And believe it or not we finally found something just like that. Upon reflection though, it seems more like the sound of the unfortunate offspring of a mating between a saw and a not-very-healthy clarinet. Here it is:

4. A Salty Dog - Jeffrey McFarland-Johnson

That was Jeffrey McFarland-Johnson who sends BtP some very interesting e-mails which they love to read.

The next person was first seen in Pan's People on Top of the Pops then she had a hit dancing around in a sparkly leotard singing of how she lost her heart to a starship trooper. Then she married a Lord whose music was sung by Gary Brooker in the film Evita and now she has just recorded AWSoP but for now we will have to make do with her Salty Dog.

5. A Salty Dog - Sarah Brightman {during this clip the stability of the Procol Empire is threatened ... the children with the Ball entourage start to cry, and the blonde woman from Peru, whom Greg Panfile improbably thought was an Irish person called John Lock, comes to the microphone-stand and whispers 'mercy' in the presenter's left ear}

Now time to go on a long journey for our next cover version - all the way to South Africa. It seems that the genre known and often despised of 'prog rock' had a very strong foothold there and many South African musicians have joined later incarnations of big 70s prog rock groups. Anyway this is a prog rock version but certainly over-dramatised to the point where it is hard not to believe they are joking

6. Conquistador - Circus

Well that was disrespectful to some degree. Naturally, most covers tend to be of one song in particular and its been a while since we heard it. The next piece of disrespect is from a radio 'phone-in show where the US band Yo La Tengo do requests. Anybody know Yo La Tengo? {no response at all from the audience this time}. They do make some very good records amidst their self-indulgence. If there is such a thing as sarcastic drumming you are about to hear it.

7. A Whiter Shade of Pale - Yo La Tengo

It doesn't seem right to end there, does it? Still, let's end on some more covers of that song. The last one will be played in full, then we will have a little competition with six covers not played tonight in 10-second segments where the music is played backwards. So, see how many you can spot. One clue before we get there. Most of these are of songs other than the big 'hits', as it were.

Before that we are going to Germany to round off this entertainment. The last version we will play in full and the name of the performers contains a rude word I won't use here. The excerpt before that is from a German female heavy metal artist formerly in a band called Warlock who lives in New York and gets songs from her parrot - so she says. Even stranger, she once quipped that although she liked the music of Keith Reid's boyhood friend Marc Bolan, she didn't care enough to want to drink his bathwater. So then they asked whose bathwater she would like to drink and she said "Oh well, the bathwater of sixteen vestal virgins".

Just to lull you into a nice mood there is a Chapman stick version appearing briefly before our trip to Germany. In case people don't know, a Chapman stick is a large stand-up instrument a bit like a cross between an electric bass and an acoustic guitar and it looks a bit like a sitar. When you hear the last version you might want to dance round the room with a bucket on your head: you'll know what I mean in a few minutes.

8. A Whiter Shade of Pale - clips from Chapman Stick solo and Doro then running into Helge Schneider and the Firefuckers in its entirety

I think that is enough punishment. No more cover versions until in between the two bands we have tonight, when the competition segment will be played forwards so you can hear what it was and we can declare a winner. In case you wonder what I am talking about - I believe these bands we are about to hear are going to play interpretations rather than covers. I don't think they are going to play any new specially-written things but you never know. I understand that anybody who shouts out loudly for Robe of Silk or any such thing will be evicted and flown off to an island somewhere in the sun where even the internet facilities have been removed so they will never find out what happened in the rest of this night.

So here is the competition segment. I guess in all fairness we should play it once and leave some time for reflection and then play it again to give you a fair chance. I will read the toasts from absent friends in between the competition clip.

9. Backwards clips

These are the messages from absent friends in alphabetical of their first name.

Barrie Foister

To all you lucky buggers, have a great few days together, will be there in spirit.

Best Wishes
Barrie, Sydney Australia

Bert & Carina Saraco

Here goes.... "If I were sitting there with you the last thing that I'd be waiting to hear would be a message from one of the 'friends back home!' Well, since this crowd is nicer than the average group, I hope you'll indulge for a minute or two - after all, think about the fun you can have gloating afterwards! Needless to say, we're there with you all in Spirit. Sure, it's a lot harder to hear the show this way, but ... well, it's the best we can do right now. Shakespeare said: "Oh, what a bitter thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes ..." Well, we're not bitter (ahem!), but we ask you now to, in fact, be our eyes and ears - and, especially, be our hands and voices. Give our guys the biggest applause and the loudest cheers that you can ... because you're doing it for all of us who are there only, as I said before, in Spirit. ... the Spirit is willing, but the flesh! ... ah, there's the rub!

Love and a Safe Return to all
Bert & Carina Saraco, USA

Dick Scratcher

Bob Lloyd:

To everyone in Guilford something magic being born (something soggy thanks Dave) perhaps the wonderful hour in Chris and Vicki's music room will make up for it. Maybe not! Would love to be with you on this special day, a warm hello to Gary, Franky and Geoff (that casino is a dive): the fish are waiting.

From Bob, Margaret, James and Matt in oz

James Lloyd

You *DELETED*S! Why can't I have a spare aeroplane ticket to go and join you!?! I worked out the guitar parts for Drunk Again, Still There'll Be More and The Idol just on the off-chance I might join some fans on stage. But there's always next time (ever hopeful). Have a great time and enjoy your creme de menthe from terracotta cups (I had to put that in, I apologise incessantly for such corn).


Jimmy (from Oztraylyer)

Dietmar 'Nik' Clever'

Dear Procolers!

Unfortunately I can't be with you tonight (though I'm so curious to meet you) I'm sure you will have a great time and now you're enjoying Roland's hot tea and Jens's cold beer. Btw I had the following dream last night ... ok ... really it was just an idea from an old Spencer Tracy movie :-)

Once there was a drummer who played with marvellous, fantastic, wonderful flair. But he died all too soon. Up in heaven God said:

"Well my son, unfortunately there are many clumsy people on earth who try to play the drums. So I have chosen YOU for an important mission. You're going back to earth although no one will see you. In a ghostly way, you will appear next to a living drummer and his thoughts will be drawn from your instructions. Between the 16 and 18 of September 2000 you will stay in Guildford, Surrey, England. You won't just be having fun ... you will have a difficult job to do ... you will meet several of your old friends and they may well feel that you were really there after all."

Wish you all the best!!

Francois Courvoisier

Greetings from Switzerland! Have much fun at the Convention

Enjoy the Millennium Concert

I am sorry not to attend and I e-mail my best wishes to you!

Freddie Of The Unsteady Ilk [surprisingly in lower case]

I really only know Gary, Keith and Mick personally -- the others, just a handshake and a wink and a nod -- so, please give 'em all a big hug, a kiss on the forehead, and my love and best wishes for a truly special "gig" -- as I am writing this it's just KILLING ME that I can't be there.

Greg Harris

To all that will be there at Guildford. Have a fantastic time. Wish I could be there but attempts to get a cheap backload "Olympics" airfare from Oz to London have failed. I'm jealous of you. Look forward too reading about your exploits on BtP.

Shine On

Greg Australia

Jeff Levine

To all Palers, and the Band,

Unfortunately, I am unable to fly to England and celebrate this unbelievable weekend. It would take hours to explain how I feel about this band and how bad I feel that I cannot attend. But please, let the fire burn brightly forever. We must. This band has dominated my life and I could never express my gratitude in words.

Please Procol Harum, never stop even if it has to be every few years. And I have only one request, and that is to do this again, but please come to the States. I only hope that this gets to the band, especially Gary and Matthew. Only one minor request.

If Gary can respond even if it's only a Hello, I would be very grateful just to know he received my message.

Jeff Levine / Brookerfan

Richard & Anne Solly … there's so much sea between us

Sorry Anne and myself cannot make the Palers' Convention but we are staying with friends tonight in London. Don't worry we wont bring a souvenir ... just feast and drink until you fold on what should be a fun night.

Gary Brooker asked for a mood to be created at Redhill before launching into in held 'twas in I … let's continue with the dream and make this concert ... something magic

This will be the 10th time I've seen Procol Harum since 1973 see you all tomorrow …

Richard and Anne Solly

Ross Taylor
Yo Sam …here's my absentee message …


Because I cannot make the journey
I must send my words instead,
to say I'm with you in my thoughts
between the headphones on my head.

I'll miss the fun - an English fair,
meeting people face to face.
But this band is more than local,
they're splashed across all time and space.

Through the decades some have left
and some are even farther gone,
but the music is a circle,
the spirit is still holding on.

Procol Harum mysterioso!
What are all the words about?
And the chords? It's something magic.
They leave no one (who listens) out.

So don't do nothin' I wouldn't do.
Sit still or frolic when they play.
Have a drink for landlocked sailors
when the waiter brings his tray.

10. Backward clips again

Okay that's it, the bands will be on next after an interval. Remember not to be rude about any of these cover versions when you walk about as somebody involved in them might be within earshot. Its obvious that all the people who made these covers have great love for the music so they might well be here.

So the first part of the proceedings came on and we waited for some scratch music to be played. Would the nameless throng attempt to fool us with Harlequin, country and western versions of Dead Man's Dream, The Truth is Plain to See by Freedom, or even a replica pastiche composition of their own. Read on ...

Millennium Concert: index-page


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