Procol Harum

Beyond the Pale

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Procol Harum : Reading Festival

Vin Miles's photographs from 25 August 1974

Photographer Vin Miles kindly writes (twice) to 'Beyond the Pale' (2004)

'I think your website is absolutely terrific, and I would like to contribute something.

'I have just one solitary photo of the band, taken at the 1974 Reading Festival on Saturday, 28th August. I got as close as I could, because I only had a 28mm wide angle lens with me at the time, and took this one shot. (I was probably low on film).

'I didn't even remember I had a picture of Procol Harum until I found it just recently whilst scanning old negatives. I wasn't a particularly big fan of Procol at the time, (the only PH album I had was the '72 A Salty Dog on MFP, though I loved that) so the only song that I remember them playing is Eight Days A Week!

'I've scanned it at the highest resolution I can, and I hope you find it an interesting record of the gig. 'The only other thing I can add is that the female photographer with the very long hair over on the right, is, I think, Pennie Smith the NME staff photographer, and that may very well be writer Charles Shaar Murray with the afro walking out of shot!'

Regards Vin Miles

I found this rather amateurish review of Procol's set (from Disc & Music Echo) on the web (here):'

'Saturday's events opened with Jack the Lad, veterans of last year's festival. Its no joke opening at any time, but despite having a less than full audience, they did well.

Detail of
the above

'I think I could have managed well without the Heavy Metal Kids. They went down well with the audience, but personally I think they overdid their act, to the detriment of the music - but they often do. Something they really can't afford, as the quality of their music is in some doubt anyway, as far as I'm concerned. They are loud, tuneless and play heavily on the Punk Rock image they are trying to promote (or if they aren't doing it intentionally, now would be a good time to take stock of what exactly they are trying to do).

More detail of
the above-above

'The highlight of the entire day was the set by Procol Harum; they were incredible. They opened, inappropriately, with Shine On, from the album of the same name. The songs were a mixture of old and new - a necessity for any festival. Their sound was superb, bringing a little class to the proceedings and showing where experience counts. I loved Salty Dog and Grand Hotel, and even forgot the discomfort of sitting on soggy grass and being stepped on by careless individuals. I could have listened to them for hours, but, like everyone else, I wanted for them to get to the encore and to play A Whiter Shade of Pale. When they did come back on stage they announced the encore as "a song we'd all remember from the 60s". A cheer went up, to die a little as they played the opening of the Beatles' Eight Days A Week. At the end of the last bar they finally relented and reverted to A Whiter Shade Of Pale and on cue the sun came out! It was disappointing, therefore, that Thin Lizzy turned out to be somewhat unremarkable, after Procol's performance. John Baldry , likewise technically good, just wasn't a star. He was, however, wearing a fetching daffodil yellow suit.'

'Hi, Roland,
Thanks for your appreciation.

'I have found two further photos of the band at Reading '74. Again, totally unexpected, while scanning my old black-and-white negatives this time.

'I realise now that I had two cameras that day, one for colour and one for b/w. I took a photo with the same wide angle lens, so it's almost exactly like the one I sent the other day, then put a 200mm lens on and took one shot of Gary singing his head off. Just one!

'I really wish I'd taken more with the telephoto. In between the two shots I wasted 4 frames on other subjects, including that guy "Jesus" who was a regular at British festivals, and danced crazily, usually stripping off!

'I've sent you two versions of both pics. The wide angle shot shows quite a few beautiful people in front of the stage, but I really can't understand why I bothered to take great close-ups of such rock immortals as Heavy Metal Kids and Jack the Lad, and only 3 of Procol Harum.

'All I can think of is that those bands, with their stand-up front men, were more attractive to the photographer looking for a dynamic photo.

'Oh well, at least I have three - a week ago I believed I had none!'

Vin Miles


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