Sunday, April 15, 2007

Procol Harum

Bruce Eder @ All Music
Procol Harum is arguably the most successful "accidental" group creation -- that is, a band originally assembled to take advantage of the success of a record created in the studio -- in the history of progressive rock. With "A Whiter Shade of Pale" a monster hit right out of the box, the band evolved from a studio ensemble into a successful live act, their music built around an eclectic mix of blues-based rock riffs and grand classical themes. With singer/pianist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid providing the band's entire repertory, their music evolved in decidedly linear fashion, the only major surprises coming from the periodic lineup changes that added a new instrumental voice to the proceedings. At their most accessible, as on "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Conquistador," they were one of the most popular of progressive rock bands, their singles outselling all rivals, and their most ambitious album tracks still have a strong following.

Procol Harum's roots and origins are as convoluted as its success -- especially between 1967 and 1973 -- was pronounced. Pianist Gary Brooker (b. May 29, 1945, Southend, Essex, England) had formed a group at school called the Paramounts at age 14, with guitarist Robin Trower (b. Mar. 9, 1945, Southend, Essex) and bassist Chris Copping (b. Aug. 29, 1945 Southend, Essex), with singer Bob Scott and drummer Mick Brownlee. After achieving a certain degree of success at local youth clubs and dances, covering established rock & roll hits, Brooker took over the vocalist spot from the departed Scott, and the group continued working after its members graduated -- by 1962, they were doing formidable (by British standards) covers of American R&B, and got a residency at the Shades Club in Southend.

Brownlee exited the band in early 1963 and was replaced by Barry J. (B.J.) Wilson (b. Mar. 18, 1947, Southend, Essex), who auditioned after answering an ad in Melody Maker. Nine months later, in September of 1963, bassist Chris Copping opted out of the professional musicians' corps to attend Leicester University, and he was replaced by Diz Derrick. The following month, the Paramounts demo record, consisting of covers of the Coasters' "Poison Ivy" and Bobby Bland's "Farther on up the Road," got them an audition at EMI. This resulted in their being signed to the Parlophone label, with their producer, Ron Richards, the recording manager best-known for his many years of work with the Hollies.

The Paramounts' first single, "Poison Ivy," released in January of 1964, reached number 35 on the British charts. The group also got an important endorsement from the Rolling Stones, with whom they'd worked on the television show Thank Your Lucky Stars, who called the Paramounts their favorite British R&B band. Unfortunately, none of the group's subsequent Parlophone singles over the next 18 months found any chart success, and by mid-'66, the Paramounts had been reduced to serving as a backing band for popsters Sandy Shaw and Chris Andrews. In September of 1966, the Paramounts went their separate ways; Derrick out of the business, Trower and Wilson to gigs with other bands, and, most fortuitously, Gary Brooker decided to develop his career as a songwriter.

This led Brooker into a partnership with lyricist Keith Reid (b. Oct. 19, 1945), whom he met through a mutual acquaintance, R&B impresario Guy Stevens. By the spring of 1967, they had a considerable body of songs prepared and began looking for a band to play them. An advertisement in Melody Maker led to the formation of a band initially called the Pinewoods, with Brooker as pianist/singer, Matthew Fisher (b. Mar. 7, 1946, Croydon, Surrey) on organ, Ray Royer (b. Oct. 8, 1945) on guitar, Dave Knights (b. June 28, 1945, London) on bass, and Bobby Harrison (b. June 28, 1943, London) on drums. Their first recording, produced by Denny Cordell, was of a piece of surreal Reid poetry called "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," which Brooker set to music loosely derived from Johann Sebastian Bach's Air on a G String from the Suite No. 3 in D Major.

By the time this recording was ready for release, the Pinewoods had been rechristened Procol Harum, a name derived, as alternate stories tell it, either from Stevens' cat's birth certificate, Procol Harun, or the Latin "procul" for "far from these things" (hey, it was the mid-'60s, and either is possible). In early May of 1967, the group performed "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at the Speakeasy Club in London, while Cordell arranged for a release of the single on English Decca (London Records in America), on the companies' Deram label. Ironically, Cordell's one-time clients the Moody Blues were about to break out of a long commercial tail-spin on the very same label with a similar, classically-tinged pair of recordings, "Nights in White Satin" and "Days of Future Passed," and between the two groups and their breakthrough hits, Deram Records would be permanently characterized as a progressive rock imprint.

Cordell had also sent a copy of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" to Radio London, one of England's legendary off-shore pirate radio stations (they competed with the staid BBC, which had the official broadcast monopoly, and were infinitely more beloved by the teenagers and most bands), which played the record. Not only was Radio London deluged with listener requests for more plays, but Deram suddenly found itself with orders for a record not scheduled for release for another month -- before May was half over, it was pushed up on the schedule and rushed into shops.

Meanwhile, the prototypal Procol Harum made its concert debut in London opening for Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theater on June 4, 1967. Four days later, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reached the top of the British charts for the first of a six-week run in the top spot, making Procol Harum only the sixth recording act in the history of British popular music to reach the number one spot on its first release (not even the Beatles did that). The following month, the record reached number five on the American charts, with sales in the United States rising to over a million copies (and six million copies worldwide).

All of this seemed to bode well for the band, except for the fact that it had only a single song in its repertory and no real stage act -- literal one-hit wonders. The same month that the record peaked in the United States, Royer and Harrison were sacked and replaced by Brooker's former Paramounts bandmates Robin Trower and B.J. Wilson on guitar and drums, respectively.

The "real" Procol Harum band was now in place and a second single, "Homburg," was duly recorded. Reminiscent of "Whiter Shade of Pale" in its tone of dark grandeur, this single, released in October of 1967 on EMI's Regal Zonophone label, got to number six on the British charts. The group's debut album, entitled Procol Harum, managed to reach number 47 in America during October of 1967, based on "A Whiter Shade of Pale" being among its tracks (which included the first version of "Conquistador") -- but a British version of the LP, issued over there without the hit, failed to attract any significant sales. The single "Homburg," however, got no higher than number 34 in America a month later.

On March 26, 1968, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" won the International Song of the Year award at the 13th Annual Ivor Novello Awards (sort of the British equivalent of the Grammys). The group's newest single, "Quite Rightly So," however, only reached the number 50 spot in England in April of that year. A new contract for the group was secured with A&M Records in America (they remained on Regal Zonophone in England), and by November, a second album, Shine on Brightly, highlighted by an 18-minute epic entitled "In Held 'Twas I," was finished and in the stores, and rose to number 24 in America but failed to chart in England. The next month, they were playing the Miami Pop Festival in front of 100,000 people, on a bill that included Chuck Berry, Canned Heat, the blues version of Fleetwood Mac, and the Turtles, among others.

In March of 1969, David Knights and Matthew Fisher exited the lineup shortly after finishing work on the group's new album, A Salty Dog, preferring management and production to the performing side of the music business. Knights' departure opened the way for bassist Chris Copping to join Procol Harum (thus re-creating the lineup of the Paramounts), playing bass and organ. Another American tour followed the next month, and in June of 1969 A Salty Dog was issued. This record, considered by many to be the original group's best work, combined high-energy blues and classical influences on a grand scale, and returned the band to the U.S. charts at number 32, while the title song ascended the British charts to number 44. The album subsequently reached number 27 in England, the group's first long-player to chart in their own country.

Despite the group's moderate sales in England and America, they remained among the more popular progressive rock bands, capable of reaching more middle-brow listeners who didn't have the patience for Emerson, Lake & Palmer or King Crimson. Robin Trower's flashy guitar quickly made him the star of the group, as much as singer/pianist Brooker, and he was considered in the same league with Alvin Lee and any number of late-'60s/early-'70s British blues axemen. Matthew Fisher's stately, cathedral-like organ had been a seminal part of the band's sound, juxtaposed with Trower's blues-based riffing and Reid's unusual, darkly witty lyrics as voiced by Brooker. Following Fisher's departure, the group took on a more straightforward rock sound, but Trower's playing remained a major attraction to the majority of fans.

"Whaling Stories" was an example of quintessential Procol Harum, a mix of 19th century oratorio that sounds like it came out of a Victorian-era cathedral, with fiery blues riffs blazing at its center. And being soaked in Reid's dark, eerie, regret-filled lyrics didn't stop "A Salty Dog" from becoming one of the group's most popular songs.

It was a year before their next album, Home, was released, in June of 1970, ascending to the American number 34 and the British 49 spot. This marked the end of the group's contract with Regal Zonophone/EMI, and on the release of their next LP in July of 1971, they were now on Chrysalis in England. Broken Barricades reached number 32 in America and 41 in England, but it also marked the departure of Robin Trower. The founding guitarist left that month and subsequently organized his own group, with a sound modeled along lines similar to Jimi Hendrix, which had great success in America throughout the 1970s.

Trower's replacement, Dave Ball (b. Mar. 30, 1950), joined the same month, and the lineup expanded by one with the addition of Alan Cartwright on bass, which freed Chris Copping to concentrate full-time on the organ. The group returned to something of the sound it had before Fisher's departure, although Trower was a tough act to follow. It was this version of the band that performed on August 6, 1971 in a concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the DaCamera Singers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada -- the concert was a bold and expansive, richly orchestrated re-consideration of earlier material (though not "A Whiter Shade of Pale") from the group's repertory, and, released as an official live album in 1972, proved to be the group's most successful LP release, peaking at number five and drawing in thousands of new fans.

In England, Procol Harum Live: In Concert With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra only rose to number 48 in May of 1972, but it was competing with a reissue of the group's debut album (retitled A Whiter Shade of Pale, with the single added) paired with A Salty Dog, which outperformed it considerably, reaching number 26. A single lifted from the live record, "Conquistador," redone in a rich and dramatic version, shot to number 16 in America and 22 in England that summer. Soon after, the U.S. distributor of the debut album, London Records, got further play from that record by re-releasing it with a sticker announcing the presence of "the original version of "Conquistador."

Amid all of this success, the group's lineup again was thrown into turmoil in September when Dave Ball left Procol Harum to join Long John Baldry's band. He was replaced by Mick Grabham, formerly of the bands Plastic Penny and Cochise. The band's next album, Grand Hotel, was a delightfully melodic and decadent collection (anticipating Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music in some respects) that featured guest backing vocals by Christianne Legrand of the a cappella singing group the Swingle Singers. That record, their first released on Chrysalis in America as well as England, peaked at number 21. Six months later, A&M released the first compilation of the band's material, Best of Procol Harum, which only made it to number 131 on the charts.

The group's next two albums, Exotic Birds and Fruit (May 1974) and Procol's Ninth (September 1975), the latter produced by rock & roll songsmiths Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed moderately well, and "Pandora's Box" from Procol's Ninth became one of their bigger hits in England, rising to number 16. July of 1976 saw a departure and a lateral shift in the group's lineup, as Alan Cartwright left the band and Chris Copping took over on bass, while Pete Solley joined as keyboard player.

By this time, the band's string had run out, as everyone seemed to know. A new album, Something Magic, barely scraped the U.S. charts in April of 1977, and the band split up following a final tour and a farewell concert at New York's Academy of Music on May 15, 1977. Only five months later, the band was back together for a one-off performance of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which had taken on a life of its own separate from the group -- the song was named joint winner (along with "Bohemian Rhapsody") of the Best British Pop Single 1952-1977, at the Britannia Awards to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, and the band performed it live at the awards ceremony.

Apart from Trower, Gary Brooker was the most successful and visible of all ex-Procol Harum members, releasing three solo albums between 1979 and 1985. Fear of Flying (1979) on Chrysalis, produced by George Martin, attracted the most attention, but Lead Me to the Water (1982) on Mercury had some notable guest artists, including Eric Clapton and Phil Collins, while Echoes in the Night (1985) was co-produced by Brooker's former bandmate Matthew Fisher. During the late '80s, however, Brooker had turned to writing orchestral music, principally ballet material, but this didn't stop him from turning up as a guest at one of the annual Fairport Convention reunions (Procol Harum and Fairport had played some important early gigs together) at Cropredy, Oxfordshire, in August of 1990 to sing "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Still, Procol Harum had faded from the consciousness of the music world by the end of the 1980s. The death of B.J. Wilson in 1990 went largely unreported, to the chagrin of many fans, and it seemed as though the group was a closed book.

Then, in August of 1991, Brooker re-formed Procol Harum with Trower, Fisher, Reid, and drummer Mark Brzezicki. An album, Prodigal Stranger, was recorded and released, and an 11-city tour of North America took place in September of 1991. Although this lineup didn't last -- Trower and company, after all, were pushing 50 at the time -- Brooker has kept a new version of Procol Harum together, in the guise of himself, guitarist Geoffrey Whitehorn, keyboardman Don Snow, and Brzezicki on drums, which toured the United States in 1992. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Jaan Uhelszki @ Rhapsody
Procol Harum had a genuinely freakish history, transforming from successful R&B journeymen to progenitors of the prog-rock movement, thanks to a major hit with a melody cribbed from Johann Sebastian Bach that came out before they were even a proper band.

The nascent art rockers began as members of the Paramounts, an R&B outfit featuring pianist Gary Brooker, drummer B. J. Wilson and guitarist Robin Trower. The band -- which the three friends had formed as 14-year-old schoolmates -- not only had a chart hit (with a cover of the Coaster's "Poison Ivy"), they also had the distinction of being named by the Rolling Stones as their favorite British R&B group. But after reaching a respectable #35 with "Poison Ivy," the band never again charted, and were eventually reduced to serving as a backing band for proto-pop stars Sandy Shaw and Chris Andrews.

In September of 1966, the members went their separate ways, Trower and Wilson joining other bands and Brooker becoming a full-time songwriter with partner Keith Reid. Within a year, the songwriting duo had a prodigious body of work, and assembled a band they inexplicably dubbed the Pinewoods, with Brooker as pianist/singer, Matthew Fisher on organ, Ray Royer on guitar, Dave Knights on bass and Bobby Harrison on drums. Their first effort, produced by Denny (Joe Cocker, Bob Marley, Tom Petty) Cordell, was a brilliant yet esoteric scrap of poetry penned by Reid called "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which Brooker set to music loosely based on Bach's "Air for G String" from Suite No. 3 in D Major. By the time the recording was ready to be released, the Pinewoods had changed members, as well as their name -- taking their new moniker from either Steven's cat, or a rather loose translation of the Latin word, "procul," meaning "far from these things," which reflected the rather occult mood of the 1960s. Cordell sent a copy of this idiosyncratic single to infamous pirate station Radio London, and listeners responded enthusiastically after the very first spin, calling the station to demand more plays of the rather arcane sounding song. Decca Records, who hadn't yet released the single, recognized the demand for the record by pushing up the release date, getting discs into stores a month early.

Problem was, this ad hoc band had only the one tune, and had never before played live. But they managed to put together a credible set list and opened for Jimi Hendrix at London's Saville Theatre in June of 1967, about the same time that "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" reached the top spot on the U.K. charts, where it remained for a full six weeks (it went on to peak at number five in the U.S.). By July, the song became the number one selling record in the world, and had initiated a new genre dubbed "classical rock." Heady with success, bandleader Brooker didn't crack open champagne bottles, but instead fired Royer and Harrison, replacing them with his old school chums-cum-band members Robin Trower and B.J Wilson, forming what would become Procul Harum's seminal line-up. A second single, "Homburg," was recorded with this entirely new line-up, and that too scurried up the charts, landing at a healthy number six, proving they were not left-field one hit wonders.

After those initial successes, Procol Harum went on to record a string of ambitious concept albums much weightier than anything the Who attempted, tackling themes of insanity, death, sex, and spiritual regeneration. As the band entered the '70s, the line-up shifted, the subject matter became less macabre, and the band oddly inched their way back toward their R&B roots with 1977's Procol Ninth, produced by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. The band continued to make credible albums which sadly sold fewer and fewer copies, until the group finally disbanded quietly in 1991 (though they frequently get together for reunion gigs, and Gary Brooker is an occasional participant in Ringo Starr's Allstars review). - Jaan Uhelszki =>>>>>>>>>>>

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@ Wiki
Procol Harum are an English psychedelic rock band, formed in the 1960s, who built a heavy foundation for what would become progressive rock. They are best known for their hit single "A Whiter Shade of Pale", though they have had a devoted cult following throughout their career.

Some of the roots of Procol Harum are in a live band led by Gary Brooker and Robin Trower called The Paramounts, popular performers in the early 1960s. They signed to Parlophone in 1963 (see 1963 in music) and released "Poison Ivy", a moderate British success in 1964 (see 1964 in music). They were unable to recreate this success, however, and the band fell apart in 1966 (see 1966 in music).

Early years
In early 1967, Brooker began working as a singer/songwriter and formed Procol Harum in April 1967 with non-Paramounts: poet Keith Reid, Hammond organist Matthew Fisher, guitarist Ray Royer and bassist David Knights. At Olympic Studios, with session drummer (and non-Paramount) Bill Eyden, producer Denny Cordell, and sound engineer Keith Grant, the group recorded "A Whiter Shade of Pale." The song was officially released on May 12, 1967. With the sudden success of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin", their label Deram Records became known as a premier progressive rock label.

With its haunting tonality and Bach flavouring, both provided by Fisher, soulful vocals and mysterious lyrics, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reached #1 on the British charts and did almost as well in the United States, reaching #5. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic, placing on several polls of the best songs ever.

Right after "A Whiter Shade of Pale" became a hit, the band set out to leverage their studio success by touring; their live debut was opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1967 (see 1967 in music).

The group's follow-up single, "Homburg", with a lineup change of former Paramounts B.J. Wilson on drums and Robin Trower on guitar, was almost as successful in the UK as it reached #6, but the LP Procol Harum, was less successful. A series of singles charted lowly in the US and UK, though rarely both at the same time. A Salty Dog (1969; see 1969 in music) was popular among fans, and was their first album to sell well in the UK; it is still highly regarded as perhaps their finest LP. The title track in particular gained a good deal of US FM radio airplay, with Reid's ominous, alliterative lyrics in the forefront. However, Fisher, who produced this album, departed the band soon after its release.

The group would have many personnel changes [1], but their "classic" lineup for their first three albums was Gary Brooker (piano and lead vocals), Robin Trower (guitar and lead vocals), Matthew Fisher (organ and lead vocals), David Knights (bass), B.J. Wilson (drums), and Keith Reid (lyricist). Former Paramount Chris Copping joined on organ and bass in 1970, and between 1973 and 1977, the group's guitarist was Mick Grabham, a very worthy successor to Trower.

Procol Harum produced a unique sound that emphasized Brooker's melancholy vocals and an evocative mix of his eclectic piano, Fisher's elegant, church-like organ, Wilson's dramatic drumming and Trower's searing guitar licks, along with frequent black humour and a penchant for unpredictable experimentation. Musically, Procol Harum was split during all these years between Trower's guitar-driven blues rock style (that was often compared to Eric Clapton or Hendrix) and Brooker's and Fisher's structured classical rock sound. The group often combined the two into a brilliantly dynamic fusion, but by 1972 the disparities in style became too great; the end of an era was marked for Procol, with the release of their fifth album Broken Barricades, and subsequent departure of Trower to form his own power trio band.

Procol returned to success on the music charts in the following years with a distinctly symphonic rock sound, often backed by symphony orchestras. At this they were one of the first groups to achieve success: the album Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was a #5 gold album in the US in 1972, as well as reaching #48 in Britain. From this, a dynamic performance of "Conquistador" (a song from their first album) was a hit as a single, getting to #16 in the US with considerable additional FM radio airplay, while reaching #22 in the UK.

More personnel problems contributed to declining sales in the later part of the 1970s, with "Pandora's Box" being their final UK top 20 hit in 1975; the band finally broke up in 1977 (see 1977 in music). They reunited for a single performance five months later, due to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" being named joint winner (along with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody") of the Best British Pop Single 1952-1977 at the Brit awards, part of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.

1991 and further
The band reformed in 1991 (see 1991 in music) with Brooker, Fisher, Trower and Reid, and released The Prodigal Stranger, but sales were modest. After the album's release, a new incarnation of the band, with Brooker and Fisher but not Trower, toured the US and the world for a few years in the first half of the nineties.

In July 1997, fans arranged the celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the success of "A Whiter Shade of Pale", and invited the then inactive band to play. The concert, at Redhill, drew fans from all over the world. A direct result of the concert was the creation of the fan web site "Beyond the Pale" in October 1997.

The web site made fans aware of each other, and thus catalysed and sparked a new interest in the band. In late 1999, Gary Brooker promised that "Procol will play in 2000", and in September the band played an open-air gig with the New London Sinfonia in Guildford, UK.

Since 2001 the band [Brooker; Fisher; Geoff Whitehorn (also guitarist with Elkie Brooks), guitar; Matt Pegg, bass, Mark Brzezicki, drums] has made several tours of mostly Europe, but also Japan and the US. A 2001 concert in Copenhagen was released on DVD in 2002. In 2003, the band released the album The Well's on Fire. A December, 2003 London concert with much of the material from that record was released on DVD in 2004: "Live at the Union Chapel". Fisher quit Procol Harum in 2004.

The band still tours, with Josh Phillips replacing Fisher on Hammond, leaving Gary Brooker as the only original performing member. In June 2006 they played at the Isle of Wight festival, the only act to have also played the original festival in 1969. In the autumn of 2006 they played in Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, but with Geoff Dunn replacing Mark Brzezicki on drums as the latter's other band Casbah Club was touring with The Who. As of 3/07, European gigs have been announced for later this year, with Dunn still on drums.

Authorship lawsuit
In 2005, Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher filed suit in the Royal Courts of Justice against Gary Brooker and his publisher, claiming that Fisher co-wrote the music for A Whiter Shade of Pale. Fisher, now a computer programmer in Croydon, South London, claimed a £1million share of copyright and past sales and in 2006 put his argument before a High Court judge in London. Brooker insisted that the 1967 song was written even before Fisher joined the band.

On the 20 December 2006 Fisher won the case but was awarded 40% rather than the 50% he was claiming. Appeals are expected. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Matthew Fisher, a founding member of 1960s rock group Procol Harum, has won a High Court battle over who wrote their hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale.

He played organ on the 1967 hit and argued he wrote the distinctive organ melody. Mr Justice Blackburne ruled he was entitled to 40% of the copyright.

Fisher, from London, had wanted half but the court decided lead singer Gary Brooker's input was more substantial.

Fisher's claim for back royalties - of up to £1m - was also rejected. For almost 40 years, the song has been credited to lead singer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid.

"I find that the organ solo is a distinctive and significant contribution to the overall composition and, quite obviously, the product of skill and labour on the part of the person who created it," the judge said.

Now a computer programmer, Fisher said the organ solo was inspired by composer Bach but he also had "his own ideas in his head."

The 60-year-old said he made chord changes to the original Brooker sequence and added to the work with a counterpoint to the song melody.

Mr Justice Blackburne, who studied both music and law at Cambridge - followed a transcribed music score during the several occasions the song was played in court.
Brooker defended his claim to be the sole writer of the tune, which still provides him with royalties - boosted by its recent popularity in the mobile ringtone market.
The singer, who still fronts Procol Harum, faces paying a large part of the legal costs estimated at around £500,000.

'Unspoken resentment'
In a statement, Brooker said his former bandmate had no right to be credited as a writer of the song: "If Matthew Fisher's name ends up on my song, then mine can come off!"
He added: "It's hard to believe that I've worked with somebody on and off since 1967 whilst they hid such unspoken resentment.

"I'm relieved the trial is over, but my faith in British justice is shattered."
Outside the court, Fisher insisted his case was not about the money, and he said he doubted whether he would ever play the song in public again.

He added: "I think I can assume that from now on I'm not going to be on Gary and Keith's Christmas card lists but I think that's a small price to pay for finally securing my rightful place in rock and roll history.

"I'd just like to say that it's a great pity that this matter could not have been resolved amicably."

The judge granted Brooker permission to appeal. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Paul Evans @ Rolling Stone

Ever since Paul McCartney underscored the melody of "Eleanor Rigby" with a string quartet, many pop players have attempted a fusion of rock and classical music. The Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer contrived grandiose hybrids; ELO nursed a much more pleasant mix; but the band that absolutely mastered the concept was Procol Harum. United by tremendous ambition, each musician was an adept soloist; Pianist Gary Brooker's voice was not only a first-rate blues vehicle, but it was graced with the command to handle Procol's ofttimes thunderous lyrics; Matthew Fisher played organ with rare subtlety; B.J. Wilson was a drummer as unique in his way as Keith Moon or John Bonham; Robin Trower brandished technique as well as sheer rock power. And in Keith Reid, a literary figure who wrote the words to their songs, Procol found a lyricist whose odd, vaguely surreal poetry matched the musicians' distinctive vision.

Even if Trower and Wilson were brought on board after its release, the staggering "Whiter Shade of Pale" provided the blueprint for Procol's early glory. Based on Bach's Suite no. 3 in D Major, this music had a haunting resonance; the single remains the centerpiece of the group's impressive debut. The two-keyboard approach, heard first on Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, was employed with a fresh majesty, and Brooker's singing summoned the urgency of a prime R&B vocalist's. Shine on Brightly (1968) developed the group's sound; "Shine on Brightly" nearly matched the power of "Pale." Procol purveyed spacious, crafty epics with 1969's A Salty Dog, featuring such standout cuts as the title track, "Wreck of the Hesperus," and "Boredom." Brooker favored classical progressions; he virtually never limited himself to the standard three rock & roll chords, and while the playing was always first-rate, the group seldom came off as self-indulgent.

Matthew Fisher, however, then departed -- the first of Procol's significant personnel losses. Broken Barricades, from 1971 (now out of print), showed the group going for a heavier, less leisurely style, especially on the full-out attack of "Simple Sister"; Procol proved it could rock with undeniable credibility in "Whiskey Train," from 1970's Home. Trower, the group's only true rocker, left next, and the band developed signs that it had lost its initial creative tension. The Prodigal Stranger, Procol Harum's 1991 comeback, was deeply uninspired. Somewhat better was the symphonic followup, The Long Goodbye. With its Plus series, West Side has done an excellent job of reissuing the band's classic albums, all with bonus tracks. Of the compilations, 30th Anniversary Anthology is the best and the fullest. Greatest Hits and the now-deleted The Best of are interchangeable and excellent; also of note is the outstanding 1972 live album that produced a great symphonic reworking of "Conquistador," a classic from the debut. (Paul Evans)

From the 2004 The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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