Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's NME coverage ...

8 + 29 January; 5 + 19 February; 4 + 25 March 1972

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, show a bit of a skirmish in the letters page, more UK touring, and the re-release of early albums and singles.

 NME, January 8, 1972

Front page headlines:

FAMILY, AIR, MAC DATES (with pics of Roger Chapman, Danny Kirwan and Kristina & Way (of Curved Air) and story)

Elvis in Paris, so they say








PROCOL TOUR (with story):

Procol Harum make one of their rare excursions on to the British concert circuit later this month when they play Manchester Free Trade Hall (18), Birmingham Town Hall (19), Newcastle City Hall (21), Bristol Colston Hall (23), Portsmouth Guildhall (24) and Sheffield City Hall (25). Dates in Scotland in early February have still to be announced.

(The two first dates are confirmed in the Who’s Where column next week. But none of the concerts gets a review in the NME. As usual.)

News pages:


Negotiations are under way for Procol Harum to film a British television special, for spring screening, with a full symphony orchestra and choir. Plans for the special have been inspired by Procol’s new album, as yet untitled, which was recorded during the outfit’s last tour of North America. It features Harum with the 46-piece Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the 24-piece De Camera Singers. The group’s Gary Brooker wrote all the arrangements for the LP, which includes adaptions of some of Harum’s earlier material as well as newer songs …

NME Top 5:
1 (3) I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing, New Seekers
2 (1) Ernie, Benny Hill
3 (7) Theme From "Shaft", Isaac Hayes
4 (2) Something Tells Me, Cilla Black
5 (5) No Matter What, Gilbert O’Sullivan

Top 5 LPs:
1 (1) Electric Warrior, T. Rex
2 (2) Imagine, John Lennon
3 (3) Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
4 (4) Teaser And The Firecat, Cat Stevens
5 (6) Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel

Tipped for the charts by Derek Johnson
If You Really Love Me, Stevie Wonder
Storm In A Teacup, The Fortunes

Main album reviews:
Concert For Bangla Desh, Various Artists
Paul Simon, Paul Simon
Living, Judy Collins
Other Voices, The Doors

The NME poll results for 1971 (printed in the January 22 issue) has of course no mention of Procol Harum. They would have needed 159 votes to hit the British Vocal Groups Top 20.

Reder’s letter in the NME, January 29, 1972:

Recently I went to a Procol Harum concert. They were introduced as the group for ’72, and I have never heard anything so ordinary and noisy in all my life. I’m aiming to remain in ’71 forever if this is a sample of the music for this year. Congratulations to Amazing Blondel, who deserved to top the bill with their over-brilliant performance.

Heather Baker, Redditch, Worcs.

From February 5, 1972, the NME change both format and style. It becomes thicker, and the writing more "serious". Derek Johnson lose his grip on the singles to younger writers at last. And they even start a series on the mellotron!

And there are two readers’ letters defending Procol Harum after last week’s attack:

Procol Harum are in my opinion the group for ’72, have been long underestimated in previous years by people such as Heather Baker (NME, Jan, 29) and deserve to be top of their own bill.

I do not wish to dispute the fact that Amazing Blondel are indeed a very worthy collection, but I dearly wish I had been able to take Miss / Mrs Baker’s place at the concert she only half enjoyed.

At the risk of contradicting myself may I remind HB of the words of a popular song of six years or so ago - "time is now - and that’s a fact." Pray do not bury your head in the sands of time. It is not Procol Harum’s fault that you do not like them. They do not appeal to your taste but I am sure that there are people out there who feel the way I feel about this group.

There are many too who remember Whiter Shade Of Pale and expect merely the same thing with new words. Do we criticise Pink Floyd when they make records like "Ummagumma"? Indeed we do not. Therefore may I say that we who appreciate the music of Gary Brooker and company do not "live in the past." (There goes that song again.) And we’re just waiting for a live concert of theirs we will be able to attend ourselves.
Anna, Margaret and Alyson.


It is a pity that the group who released the most unusually different single for many years should have taken so long to gain that extra recognition that they need.

Procol Harum and Whiter Shade Of Pale were heroes for about six months, then people lost interest, ignoring such acceptable releases as Homburg, Salty Dog (the latter being in my opinion the most beautiful single ever released).

So then the group took to albums, the best being their last, Broken Barricades. Others, such as Procol Harum, Shine On Brightly, Salty Dog and Home contain some excellent music but the public ignored them.

People who have never bothered to see them in concert have missed some good sounds. Heather Baker who wrote informing us that she did not particularly enjoy Procol when she saw them, should listen to their Barricades album or any of the other albums and see if she changes her mind.

Procol will become big, but only if the public give them a listen.
E. Roberts, Coningsby.

Nice try, but none of you were at the actual concert!

NME, February 19, 1972

Front page headlines:


Wings on the road-NME EXCLUSIVE

COCKER RETURNS (small pic with band and story)


Stills return



and a big pic of Paul Rodgers (Free)

NME Top 5:
1 (2) Son Of My Father, Chicory Tip
2 (1) Telegram Sam, T. Rex
3 (4) Have You Seen Her, Chi-Lites
4 (6) Mother Of Mine, Neil Reid
5 (17) Look Wot You Dun, Slade

1 (1) Teaser And The Firecat, Cat Stevens
2 (2) Electric Warrior, T. Rex
3 (3) A Nod’s As Good As A Wink, The Faces
4 (8) Neil Reid, Neil Reid
5 (7) Concert For Bangla Desh, Various Artists

News pages:

Old double sets: Rex, Harum, Move
Fly Records launch a new series next month called Doublebacks. First three releases are double albums comprising material originally issued on Regal Zonophone by the-then Tyrannosaurus Rex, Procol Harum, Joe Cocker and the Move. The sets will sell at two albums for the price of one (£2.30) and will be packaged in double sleeves.

The two Tynrannosaurus Rex albums are My People Were Fair and Had Sky In Their Hair But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows and Prophets Seers and Sages, The Angels Of The Ages - totalling 26 tracks. Joe Cocker’s two albums are With A Little Help From My Friends and Joe Cocker (20 tracks). The Move’s discs are Shazam and Move (19 tracks) and Procol Harum’s are A Whiter Shade Of Pale and A Salty Dog (21 tracks).

Fly are also releasing maxi-singles by these same four groups on March 11. Each consists of three or four tracks, is issued in picture sleeve and retails at 50p. The featured Rex tracks are Debora, One Inch Rock, The Woodland Bop and The Seal of Seasons.

(Another batch of Fly releases gets a mention next week in the Cassettes column: The Flyback series which retails for £1.50. A compilation called The Big Ones (ZCFLB 1) contains tracks by Move, Bolan, Cocker as well as Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog and Homburg.)

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway
Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Wings
The Pie, Sutherland Brothers Band
I Said Shutup Woman, Bo Diddley
Alone Again (Naturally), Gilbert O’Sullivan
Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), Marvin Gaye
Run Run Run, Jo Jo Gunne

Main album reviews:
Hendrix In The West, Jimi Hendrix
Live-Evil, Miles Davis
What A Bloody Long Day It's Been, Ashton, Gardener, Dyke & Co

NME, March 4, 1972

Front page headlines:

NEIL YOUNG TOUR HITCH (big pic, small story)


and George Harrison injured in car smash


The Nationwide Gig Guide

This week: Big fat 44-page NME (pic of big fat black mama with a bull whip)

NME Top 5:
1 (3) American Pie, Don McLean
2 (1) Son Of My Father, Chicory Tip
3 (6) Without You, Nilsson
4 (11) Got To Be There, Michael Jackson
5 (2) Look Wot You Dun, Slade

British Albums:
1 (4) Paul Simon, Paul Simon
2 (3) Teaser And The Firecat, Cat Stevens
3 (1) Neil Reid, Neil Reid
4 (2) Electric Warrior, T. Rex
5 (5) A Nod’s As Good As A Wink, The Faces

News pages:

Procol Harum commence a short British tour at Salford University tomorrow (Friday), then play Leeds University (Saturday). The tour is a prelude to the release in late March of the outfit’s new album, recorded live in Canada last November during Harum’s last tour of North America, which marked the début of new guitarist Dave Ball and bassist Alan Cartwright. The album features Procol with the 56-piece Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the 24-piece Da Camera Singers.


And if we turn to page 26, we find the following:

Newcastle Mayfair (March 9), Cambridge Fitzwilliam College (10), Oxford Polytechnic (11), Weymouth Pavillion (17), Bradford University (18), Chatham Central Hall (24), Bristol Durdham Down (29) and Stoke Victoria Hall (30).

This issue includes an interview with Denny Cordell, but there is no talk about Procol Harum apart from the following passage:

Denny claims to have dropped all of his previous technique. Whereas A Whiter Shade Of Pale was very well produced, he now just gets a good basic sound from each instrument and rolls the tapes.

Most of the interview is concerned with his relations to Joe Cocker, "the most important ‘find’ of his career."

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
Stir It Up, Johnny Nash
Eve, Jim Capaldi
Count Me In, Blue Mink

Main album reviews:
Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs, Groundhogs
Let’s Make Up And Be Friendly, Bonzo Dog Band
Stories, David Blue
Son Of My Father, Chicory Tip
Benny Gallagher & Graham Lyle, Benny Gallagher & Graham Lyle

NME, March 25, 1972:

Front page headlines:

T. Rextraspecial


Full report on the incredible concert that changed the face of British rock (big pic of Bolan, small pic of Ringo and story)



NME in the studios with NILSSON, CAROLE KING

NME Top 5:
1 (1) Without You, Nilsson
2 (3) Beg Steal Or Borrow, New Seekers
3 (2) American Pie, Don McLean
4 (6) Alone Again (Naturally), Gilbert O’Sullivan
5 (8) Meet Me On The Corner, Lindisfarne

British Albums
1 (1) Paul Simon, Paul Simon
2 (2) Harvest, Neil Young
3 (4) Nilsson Schmilsson, Nilsson
4 (7) Himself, Gilbert O’Sullivan
5 (6) Neil Reid, Neil Reid

Main single reviews by Danny Holloway:
Until It’s Time For You To Go, Elvis Presley
I Play And Sing, Dawn
Be My Lover, Alice Cooper
Ring The Living Bell, Melanie
Everything I Own, Bread
The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Robert John
Mary-Anne, Hot Chocolate

And then four singles in the Magnifly-series:

Deborah, Tyrannosaurus Rex
Fire Brigade, The Move
With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker


PROCOL HARUM: A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Fly)
The song that began all for the Procols is joined by A Salty Dog and Homburg. Three haunting, melancholic compositions from the team of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid.

Main album reviews:

Alive, Slade
Garden In The City, Melanie
Gifted & Black, Aretha Franklin
We’d Like To Teach The World To Sing, New Seekers
Hollies’ Greatest Vol.2, The Hollies

News from Ireland: Paul McCartney’s Give Ireland Back To The Irish reaches No. 1


The Mammoth Task: Yan's extracts from the first 52 weeks of Procol press in the NME

Swimming Against the Tide: Yan's extracts from the remaining ten years of Procol press in the NME

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home