Procol Harum

the Pale

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Celebrate Walpurgis!

Greg Panfile (USA)

Repent ... a great closing cut for an historical, great album. On the American version, it forms a bookend to AWSoP, in the same key but minor, even having a similar but darkened, flatted, minimalized descent in the bass.

That middle part, seemingly stolen from Bach (Prelude #1 in C), is the only relief from the simple Cm Ab Fm G pattern nicked by Matthew Fisher from the Four Seasons' Beggin' (hmm, an American group that wrote its own songs and played its own instruments and whose core trio included a Hammond player) the dark side of In The Still of the Night or whatever, Procol Harum's answer to a million C Am F G songs.

Four chords over and over form the body, but provide all sorts of room for interesting solo and ensemble work especially from Fisher and Trower. Incredible dynamics, and notice how Lennonesque BJ's technique of putting triple beats over fours permeates this cut and all of his other work ... all of which goes back to Buddy Holly and the Brill Building writers. Said triplets are often stated more subtle by omitting one or more of the three beats he so easily hears over four-based timings.

The three note pickup that starts it out is a favorite Fisher device, appearing for example in both Separation (its spiritual filmic cousin) and Pilgrim's Progress. For those of you following the chords at home, the middle part is something like C Dm G C Am D G C Am D G G7 ... this is to the 'black album' what A Day in the Life is to Sergeant Pepper. Something always requested at concerts in the old days, but never played when I was there until the Prodigal Stranger tour here in Boston at the Paradise, 1991 or so ... as the encore. I nicked the first four chords for Anytime You Call which has a nice Trower-type guitar solo you can hear at my web site ...(Click here then click on the song title, Anytime you Call).

And if there is a film Separation from which Salad Days is a song and for which the one rendered on Journey's End is the title song, does this not imply that a Procol Harum recording of Separation exists from 1967 or so? Or an orchestral recording, something from that era? Anyone have this or have heard of its existence (or conversely disprove same)?

Thanks to Roland for fact-checking and more. Greg Panfile  

More Walpurgis revels here

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