Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Exotic Birds and Grand Hotel

Chris Copping comments on the Esoteric Records re-issues

July 2018: Always good to get a bulletin from Chris Copping … here reproduced – with his permission – incorporating some follow-up remarks arising in correspondence with ‘Beyond the Pale’

Received the new [Esoteric Records] package last week. More than one epiphany.

I have waited this long to hear Grand Hotel sounding like it did in the control room(s) of AIR.

Someone has done a remarkable job here, especially as we are able to hear the title track sans choir and orchestral section. I would love to know what happened here – were the original multis revisited, or was it just an amazing mastering job?

[BtP  explains that it was all in the mastering, by Pascal Byrne]

Then there are the Exotic radio shows. I had heard the Golders Green set but I really don’t remember Dallas. For all I know someone else may have been playing organ – but it was definitely my instrument.

[BtP asks how Chris can tell it was definitely his instrument]

The B3 in America was sort of set up for me in my absence. It had provision for a few Leslies – I settled for three, and Mick hijacked one which worked well – two is plenty. I was told they got Billy Preston, no less, to give it a trial run! Sometimes when a Hammond is right, every drawbar combo sounds cool in its own way. It sort of played itself.  (Had to let it go for peanuts. It was lodged at Funky Paul's place near the Greek Theatre.)

Dallas absolutely trounces the British set. Whether it’s because of being match-fit mid-tour, or whether the sound recordist(s) were more on the ball in Texas ... it’s the best I ever heard PH sound live. I thought Alan sounded great in Dallas. Everyone’s on the same page – even Mabel sounded good.

The televised set on the DVD was fun to watch – I should never have been allowed on stage with a toy synth. But then I shouldn’t have been allowed to play banjo either. But by Souvenir we really seemed to be having fun! I thought that was in Paris but it seems that it was Belgium.

[BtP mentions how the bleached original was restored, by careful colour-matching from a good still picture of Gary wearing the same shirt]

That’s interesting on the Belgian studio – again, great job, and good sound.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (thanks, Chris!)

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