Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's first year in the NME

'Procol's First': 16 December 1967

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, indicate the nature of the Christmas market into which Procol Harum pitched their first album. Its release-date was November 1967 in the UK, but NME normally gave album-reviews low priority. Nick Logan's assessment must be among the earliest printed references to the Procol LP début: would that his 'signpost' prediction had truly been realized.

Front page: Full page advertisement for Harry Secombe & the original cast’s recording of musical The Four Musketeers! (Philips)

Main feature headlines:

MEET A BEE GEE – No 4 ‘I’m a bit of a raver’ admits MAURICE GIBB by Alan Smith

YOU HAVE TO BE TOUGH TO SURVIVE SAYS GENE PITNEY … but he has his soft spots! by Nick Logan

(The Procol Harum album-cover back in EMI’s half page advert: Buy an EMIstar this Christmas)

‘MY MAGIC FLOWS IN MY BLOOD’ – DONOVAN talking to Nick Logan

With a lucrative contract to visit Japan next month – THE WALKERS HAVE A YEN TO BE BROTHERS AGAIN! by Keith Altham

Tipped for charts by Derek Johnson:

The Four Tops, Walk Away Renee
Plastic Penny’s Everything I Am is reviewed, but not tipped for charts.

NME Top 5

1 (1) Hello, Goodbye, Beatles
2 (2) Let The Heartaches Begin, Long John Baldry

3 (4) Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Gene Pitney
4 (3) Everybody Knows, Dave Clark Five
5 (5) If The Whole World Stopped Lovin’, Val Doonican

News pages:

(The Rolling Stones announce they are starting their own record label: Mother Earth. The Beatles might want to be involved. A spokesman for The Beatles say that all the talk about the group starting a record label called Apple next year is just 'guess work'.)


Procol Harum visits Italy next Monday (18th), playing four concerts at opera houses before returning to Britain on Christmas eve. The group is to have a new album and a single – which was being chosen this week from 25 compositions written by group members Gary Brooker with co-manager Keith Reid – released in January.

Half page advertisement from EMI congratulating all their artists on their outstanding Pop Poll achievements. Procol Harum is on the list.

New discs on chart this week:

No 10, Magical Mystery Tour (double EP), The Beatles
No 20, Walk Away Renee, The Four Tops
No 24, Susannah’s Still Alive, Dave Davies
No 26, The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde, Georgie Fame

Over on page 14, new LPs reviewed by Nick Logan:

**** Procol Harum (Regal Zonophone, LRZ 1001)

I had thought Procol Harum a promising but nevertheless rather overrated outfit who just happened on a very beautiful smash hit sound – until I heard this album. What a group, what talent! Not every track is brilliant, but for two alone – Cerdes (Outside The Gates Of) and Repent Walpurgis – this LP would be worth the money. Cerdes, which closes side one, opens with a bluesy organ, a soulful Gary Brooker vocal and whips into a fantastic Cream-Hendrix-like wailing wall of sound with some unbelievable guitar work by Robin Trower.

The oddly-titled Walpurgis, the final track, is a long undescribable [sic] cacophony of sound written by organist Matthew Fisher featuring more brilliant reverberating Trower guitar, Brooker on piano, and rising to a crescendo of beautiful almost classical sounds in a barnstorming finish.

Standouts among the rest, all Brooker-Reid compositions, are She Wandered Through The Garden Fence and two short good-time singalong numbers Good Captain Clack and Mabel. Denny Cordell produced, this outstanding set will stand in history as a signpost to the future of pop.

Other titles: Conquistador, Something Following Me, A Christmas Camel, Kaleidoscope and Salad Days (Are Here Again)

Read more from the first year of Procol press

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