Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's first year in the NME

The Fisher profile: 11 November 1967

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, show Homburg slipping down the chart, Procol Harum eventually flying their own equipment out to the States, and profile the 'not really evil' Matthew Fisher!

Front Page: Picture of The Beatles with a cartoon Yellow Submarine, big picture of all the members of Tremeloes, Who, Traffic and Herd who were part of a British package tour at the time.

Main feature headlines:

Foundations Models Of Multi-Racial Living by Nick Logan

Eric Burdon wants to 'Stone' you with bagpipe music by Keith Altham

Derek Johnson's hit-picks of the week:

Flowerpot Men: A Walk In The Sky
The Monkees: Daydream Believer
Elvis Presley: You Don't Know Me
Johnny Mann Singers: Instant Happy
Jim Reeves: I Heard A Heart Break Last Night

while the Moody Blues' Nights In White Satin isn't tipped for the charts at all.

He also ends his short piece on the new Nice single with the following: 'Who's Emerlist Davjack? Well, he (she or it) wrote it and it's good!'

NME Top 5:

1 (2) Baby Now That I've Found You, Foundations
2 (1) Massachusetts, Bee Gees
3 (3) Zabadak! Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
4 (4) The Last Waltz, Engelbert Humperdinck
5 (10) Autumn Almanac, The Kinks

12 (7) Homburg, Procol Harum

News pages:
Vince, Cat switch, Herd delayed, Procol, Beach, Aretha new releases

... and Procol Harum's first LP has at last been scheduled ...

Sandy Posey's Are You Never Coming Home (MGM) comes out on November 24. The same day, the Procol Harum LP is released by Regal Zonophone ...

This is the group known as Freedom formed by two breakaway members of Procol Harum, Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison. It has just been signed to a long-term agency agreement by the Harold Davison Organisation, which is currently negotiating a continental tour for the quartet. As previously reported Freedom is writing the entire musical score for and appearing in a movie which will be shown at next year's Cannes Film Festival. The group, whose first single will be issued in December, consists of (left to right): Mike Lease (organ, electric piano), Ray Royer (lead guitar, violin), Bobby Harrison (drums) and Steve Shirley (lead vocalist, bass guitar) (note different personnel from earlier announcement)

is not really evil at all! says Francis Gaye

Matthew Celestial Fisher the middle name is one of Keith Reid's jokes doesn't look much of an angel. In fact, resplendent in new-grown beard, he looks a little like a probationary Mephistopheles, except that Matthew is so patently unevil that any similarity between him and the Prince of Darkness is purely skin deep.

Matthew, the organist-pianist, is a gentle, retiring person. Slender, frail in appearance, he sits hunched over himself in a corner, caressing his bewhiskered chin with ably long, sensitive fingers. He is a person who looks talented, with a face, as Hemingway put it, "marked for death" pale, hesitant, mobile. A mouth slightly too wide for the face that rarely, but radiantly, breaks into a smile.

Matthew's manner betrays his lack of self-assurance. He'll never speak unless spoken to and then it takes a long time to draw him from his position of tortoise-like withdrawal. As he talks his eyes dart ceaselessly around the room, fearful, inquisitive.

He never speaks without thought and what he says is invariably delivered with the utmost seriousness; he never jokes or gags, frequently counters question with question and the only time humour shows is in a gentle self-mockery.

His life

To say that Matthew is a dedicated musician is to understate the case. Music is his life, the only thing he seems fit for. He just is not temperamentally suited to the more humdrum aspects of life, like knowing today's date, how much he is earning, when he last ate. These things don't interest him. His mind seems continually on a higher plane.

Matthew had a musical education but dropped out of college, typically because he found it too restricting. He wanted to go his own way, to pursue his own musical ideas and this is the spirit that has marked the standard he practices in order to carry out his own beliefs in what he's doing. Together with the rest of the Procol he is totally uncompromising in his attitude to his music.

Matthew is in no way a bombastic or dominating character, rather inclined to say nothing than make a fuss, to do things he doesn't enjoy like idiotic picture poses with silent resignation. But one feels he has a steel-tough streak running through him that is unwavering if it comes to his career.

When it comes to talking he seems to lose the confidence and stature he shows at the keyboard. He is reticent, painfully shy and unsure and, one suspects, continually worried that you're laughing or sneering at him. As he talks he looks past you occasionally, looking up to gauge your reaction. He says he's been conscious of people trying to put him down for years. It's the hostility bred of others not understanding his motivations.

He is happy in Procol Harum, feels he has found a niche where he can settle comfortably doing what he likes, the way he likes it.

"I like almost all forms of music but I suppose I am influenced by Bach and some of the Baroque composers, but I don't think the influence is especially strong. I mean, look at the way Bach has influenced composers through the years" (remember the Toys' Lovers' Concerto?)
"I like pure Bach, also some jazz forms like Jacques Loussier, but I'm not all that keen."

It's impossible to list Matthew's likes and dislikes because his mind refuses to categorise things. He cannot think what he's afraid of, but would hate to damage his hands. He is noticeably undemonstrative you could never envisage him dancing or raving. His pleasures are much more contemplative, centring, as they inevitably must, around his work. That, after all, is his life.

Matthew is worth taking trouble to know. He has a quiet, uncertain charm. He is gentle and introspective, thoughtful and a little lost with a studious untidiness that makes him look more like a stereotyped musician. Nobody in pop looks more like a musician than Matthew and at time the similarity between himself and the young Beethoven are ridiculously evident.

Matthew Fisher is destined for greater things. He has a unique and refreshing talent that feeds off his imagination. A mental recluse, sensitive, musicianly, and highly creative, he is an integral, virtually essential, member of Procol Harum's music workshop.

America Calling: New York from June Harris

It just didn't work! Using American equipment didn't work for Procol Harum, so they had their own gear flown out from England, and it all arrived in time for their opening at Chicago's Cheetah last weekend.

'We tried, but it just didn't make it,' said Keith Reid. Outside of that, during their five-day stay in New York, Procol spent some time tracking down old records and got a little shopping in as well.

Read more from the first year of Procol press

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