Monday, October 29, 2012

It's About Goddamn Time. Really.

[Still languishing in the land of the Ignoble Frog, and given the Frankenstorm about to strike the Northeast and my beloved Hackensack NJ -- Paris of the Tri-State Metropolitan Area -- I have no idea when I may get home. So it seems like a good time to pontificate on a subject near and dear to my heart. Thanks for indulging me. -- S.S.]

Okay, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has finally nominated Procol Harum for inclusion.

As Dr. Livingstone should have said to Stanley: What took you so fucking long?

Seriously, it's not exactly a secret around here that I'm a fan of those guys; in fact, the first post of mine that ever went up here was a revisit to my retrospective gush about them that originally appeared in (and served as my audition to) STEREO REVIEW, back in 1972.

That said, when the subject of the nomination came up last week over at Sal's place, there was a lot of the usual pooh-poohing. Because, you know, they're just One Hit Wonders. You know -- like The Singing Dogs, Whispering Jack Smith, and whoever sang the theme from Dawson's Creek.

Which always gets up my nose because a) The (admittedly inferior to the studio version) live orchestral "Conquistador" was almost as big a world-wide hit as the ubiquitous "A Whiter Shade of Pale"; b) "A Salty Dog" has been an FM staple for decades; and c) at least three of Procol's albums are transplendent masterpieces, and another three or four are way better than just good.

So -- submitted for your approval, five Procol Harum songs that aren't "A Whiter Shade of Pale" or "Conquistador" or "A Salty Dog." Any or all of which should be grounds for inducting the band into the Hall several years ago.

5. The Devil Came From Kansas

Drummer B.J. Wilson -- the band's secret weapon -- gets to strut his amazing stuff here with (starting at the 2:46 mark) an over-before-you-know-it drum break (with hand claps) that's quite breathtaking in its concision. And the rest of the song and performance is pretty world class as well.

4. Salad Days (Are Here Again)

From their brilliant debut album -- then, as now, a perfect synthesis of Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and J.S. Bach. The interplay between Matthew Fischer's Hammond organ and Gary Brooker's piano -- especially on the solo section -- is the very definition of glorious.

3. Your Own Choice

A particularly droll Keith Reid lyric -- the hippie broads at my old college used to rewrite it as "There's too many Stevens and not enough smoke" -- mated to the catchiest tune imaginable, and an exquisitely melodic harmonica solo on the lengthy outro by the great jazz and classical mouth organ exponent Larry Adler (uncredited).

2. Quite Rightly So

Goose bumps from start to finish. That's all I'm gonna say about this one.

1. Ramblin' On

And have I mentioned that these guys had the most magnificent live sound imaginable? If I haven't, or if you can't imagine it, a listen to the above -- recorded by the original, classic five piece Procol lineup at the Fillmore West in 1969 -- should help to convince you.

BTW, I should add, and for the record, that I expect nothing I've said here is going to garner PH enough votes to get into the Hall this year.

So I'm blaming Jann Wenner in advance, even if he has nothing to do with it.

Fuck him -- he won't let The Monkees in either.


Sal Nunziato said...

And while we are at it:

She Wandered Through The Garden Fair


Shine On Brightly

Fires (Which Burn Brightly)

Grand Hotel

buzzbabyjesus said...

I made one of the comments questioning Procol Harum's nomination. I also admitted ignorance of their catalog, and added I'd never known they'd had any fans. Sal stepped up. Later that day I discovered an album of the vinyl variety called "A Salty Dog" in my collection. It's a cheapie import on the Music For Pleasure label. I became suspicious when I noticed side two opened with "Shine On Brightly", which I knew was an album title.
A little research indicated I had a "best of", not their third album.
About half is the original album, filled out with "Homburg", the aforementioned "Shine", "Ramble On", and the studio version of "Conquistador".
Anyway the record was mint, I ripped it and have been enjoying it ever since.
(How I could have a record but not know it? An old friend said he was getting rid of his records and did I want them and I said yes. He shipped them to me from California. "A Salty Dog" was in that collection. A few weeks after they arrived, his house in Malibu Canyon burned right down to the ground with everything in it.)

Anonymous said...

I double everything Steve says. They were an incredible live band! The current band is damn good.


Anonymous said...

My high school band did Salad Day which always recieved strange and good reactions.

dave™© said...

"Salty Dog" was one of my favorite elpees back in my high school days!

JZ said...

One rarely heard track of their's is the flip of "A Salty Dog", "Long Gone Geek". This one is a killer rocker and would have made a good A side in it's own right. A fine band, they made some nice records when they were The Paramounts too.

JZ said...


I'm not too far from NJ, in Baltimore. It's about 12:30 PM, in the last hour and a half the wind has really been howling and the rain is coming down in sheets. You wouldn't want to be in Hackensack right now, trust me. You picked an excellent time to be away....

Dave said...

Re: RRHOF. To me, Procul Harum deserve to be in for the same reason as Laura Nyro last year -- quality.

Anonymous said...

"Hippie broads"? Hmph.
Hippie chicks, perhaps.
The Offkey Chorus and Friends

Greyhoundude said...

There's a wonderful extended *true stereo* version of "Whiter Shade of Pale" with a hard ending that's out there, as well as other true stereo mixes of early PH tracks. Well worth searching out.

And how about the Monkees for a R&R Hall of Fame induction? Not as long as dumbass Jann Wenner is alive. Pity.

pete said...

Always liked PH, although the liner notes to their second album claimed that their first album influenced Music From Big Pink, which, as I understand it, is the source of Robbie Robertson's "Percy Sledge" crack.

In the spring of 1970 I was walking past the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End (the well-known footage of Hendrix doing Sergeant Pepper" was filmed there) when I saw a line of guys toting Marshall stacks in the stage door. I asked if I could help and was rewarded with an afternoon watching Harum rehearse.

And I'm sorry, but the Monkees? I still don't think so. A manufactured group, like Peter, Paul and Mary.

GLLinMO said...

Procol Harum - a nice call. I too doubt it. No promo value for the R&RHOF. Hot much is expected from those folk.

Me - guilty pleasure as it is - am still waiting for Paul Revere and the Raiders. Not holding my breath.

Jonathan F. King said...

Still my fave non-superstar group of all time. Saw them in their prime a couple of times, and have caught the latter-day lineup on occasion as well, though their setlists these days are short and monotonous (as befits their current opening-band status, I suppose). And Gary Brooker continues to have the best voice of any '60s rocker still active, IMO ... check out his occasional work with Bill Wyman's band for confirmation.

Any best-tracks list will vary daily (just like the Beatles); today's includes:


Repent Walpurgis

Good Captain Clack

Crucifiction Lane

Nothing But the Truth

Jonathan F. King said...

BTW, though I have 40-some Procol concert boots in my collection, I confess to being blown away by the sound quality of your "Ramblin' On" audio clip. The Fillmore '69 recording I have is annoyingly lossy by comparison. Whence comes this recording? Why was I not informed?