Sunday, May 4, 2008

Song of the Week - Whiter Shade of Pale

I have 5,187 songs in my iTunes library. This is one of them.

This is a live recording of Procol Harum doing their biggest hit "A White Shade of Pale" in 1967, the year the song was released. Gary Brooker is on piano, Matthew Fisher on organ, Ray Royer on guitar, and David Knights on bass. After this song, the band's lineup changed with Robin Trower on guitar and B. J. Wilson on drums. The 'classic' Procol Harum, with Brooker, Matthews, Trower, Knights, Wilson, and Keith Reid writing lyrics, was in place for their first album, Procol Harum. This line-up would produce 4 albums which helped establish the genre of 'progressive rock'. These albums were the before mentioned Procol Harum, Shine On Brightly (which included a album-side length track), Salty Dog (whom many, myself included, think is their finest and one of the best progressive rock albums ever), and Broken Barricades. Robin Trower left the band soon after. Their second biggest hit was Conquistador, a song from their first album, which was done live on their 5th album, the 1971 release, Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. This was one of the first attempts of a rock band to play live with an orchestra. There is a pretty good article on Wikipedia if you're interested in the band. They have formed and reformed a few times since the early 1970s, toured and released some albumes. Several have had solo careers as well. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, my friends and I were heavy into progressive rock. Before we discovered the band Yes, we loved Procol Harum and the Moody Blues. I still do, in fact.

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

And so it was that later...

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