Following ourrecent review of the eagerly-awaited Procol Harum ... Plus! album, BtP chatted with Henry Scott-Irvine about the fact that some of the ‘Royer / Harrison cuts’ sounded suspiciously like the original takes! The day that conversation was published on the web, Westside's general manager, Tony Rounce, wrote to BtP as follows:
I just got through reading your chat with Henry Scott-Irvine in respect of Procol Harum ... Plus!. If I may be allowed to respond to and comment upon some of the points he brings up:
I should point out that the 'interference' from yours truly consisted of little more than re-arranging Henry's text – and editing it – from the original 30th anniversary anthology into a slightly easier-to-follow format. The information given in the booklet is 98% Henry 's. I may well have taken editorial liberties with the arrangement of his words, but I took no such liberties with the information he provided.
It's true to say that he hadn't heard the alternate Salad Days and the early, undubbed versions of Quite Rightly So and Mabel – but he HAD heard everything else on the set, including Cerdes and Something Following Me. Henry can confirm that a day was booked for him at Hatch Farm Studios for the express purpose of listening to the material that was exhumed from Abbey Road, and which will ultimately comprise the bulk of the '... plus!' material to be featured on the forthcoming three projects.
He has, at this time, heard all the material save for three tracks, these being: Alpha, Gospel According To Matthew, Pandora's Box (instrumental), which Hatch Farm's Nick Smith and I mixed direct-to-DAT in August of last year and which have no 'issued' equivalent to compare them with.
I would hope that BTP visitors – and, especially, Henry himself – would not interpret these comments in an untoward manner. We are delighted with the hard work and diligent research that our friend has provided for the whole Procol series and look forward to the long continuance of our friendship and working relationship.
In spite of your pertinently-voiced criticisms about this package, it's good to know that you're still on our side, and we'll continue to listen to BtP's collective voice in all matters Procol.
Thank for everything ...
Aftre receiving this letter we spoke to Tony on the telephone: he was typically frank and helpful.
'There has been a mistake,' he agreed; he believed that the CD had been mastered in accordance with Henry's detailed instructions to the engineer; he had 'not tried to second-guess Henry', but there was 'no point in going over old ground'.
He now planned to re-audition the reel in question to hear for himself what versions of Cerdes and Something Following Me might be found on it.
We asked him what steps he might be able to take to put the error right. Tony mentioned the possibility of putting out the longed-for Harrison / Royer rarities as bonus tracks, over and above the scheduled bonuses, on a future ... Plus! release; he would also look into the economic viability of re-pressing the current CD and exchanging copies for dissatisfied fans.
He emphasised that it would not be possible to give a definite reply until he had gone back to the tape – there was no point in promising to put out Royer / Harrison versions until he could be sure that they actually existed. So we can't say what Westside will do, but their wish to 'see the fans right' remains happily apparent.
Henry's article about the liner-notes