Thursday, June 06, 2013

Procol Harum, Bitches!!!

Ahem. Long time or merely obsessive readers may recall that the very first entry (in 2007) at this here blog to have my by-line on it was a reprint of the very first piece of mine that ran (in 1972) in the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, and that the subject of both was Procol Harum.

The blog post, of course, featured my drolly amusing after-the-fact thoughts on the original piece, and n case you missed it -- tsk tsk -- you can peruse it in its entirety over here.

In any case, I bring the whole thing up because I've taken all sorts of (one hopes) good-natured ribbing over the years about my enthusiasm for PH, including from time to time even some from the redoubtable NY Mary.

Who has indulged me in this regard with a certain, er, bemusement.

But now, gosh darnit, I'm feeling vindicated, thanks to the appearance of Procol Harum: The Ghosts of a Whiter Shade of Pale. The clearly definitive biography of the band by my Facebook chum and all around swell guy Henry Scott-Irvine.

But let's let Henry explain why he wrote the book and why you need to read it, okay?

Seriously, this is one of the best rock bios I've read in a while; Henry's done yeoman research (talking to just about everybody who interacted with the band at all stages of their career) and he's as strong on what the music means as he is on the personal dramas behind its making.

Bottom line: You can, and should, order the book over at Amazon here.

And while I'm on the subject, let me conclude with a true Procol story I think I've told here before, but which behooves repeating, so never mind:

So. My college buds and I were kind of obsessed with Procol's song "All This and More" (from their masterpiece A Salty Dog, and with lyrics by Keith Reed, 'natch)...

...which has a line we never could parse. To wit: "Like Maddox in the days of old/We'll feast and drink until we fold."

Who the fuck is Maddox?, we puzzled long into several stoned dorm room nights. Got to be an obscure English lit reference, right? Trips to the college library and entreaties to various profs proved unavailing, so you can imagine our excitement when Procol Harum arrived, in the flesh, to play a show at our old school, and I conned my way backstage to confront the Great Lyricist himself.

Anyway, I finally cornered the guy -- who was basically sitting all by himself in the hospitality suite, playing with the roast beef -- and asked him breathlessly "Hey Keith -- to who were your referring with that Maddox line? What 16th century sonnet is that a metaphor from?"

He looked at me with some alarm and, before turning on his heels and fleeing, he said "Well, first of all, it's not Maddox. It's mad ox."

Like I said, true story. To this day, I don't know what the significance of a mad ox in the days of old is.

Oh, and just because I love all you guys -- please enjoy this thoroughly swell eight minute teaser trailer for an in-the-works Procol documentary.

Tons of great performances, and if you can contemplate drummer B.J. Wilson without going "whew," you're in need of medical attention.


Anonymous said...

thanks! my sister, the hugest PH fan besides you (swear to god, we're watching a surfing documentary and she says, "this music sounds like it's being played by Gary Brooker, right?"), is visiting me this week and i now get to be the great big brother by laying this on her.

Brooklyn Girl said...

So the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducts Rush and still ignores these guys.

Somebody explain that to me, please. And I don't want to hear any crap about record sales or concert attendance as a measure of musical quality, thanks in advance ---

cthulhu said...

Easy - the R&R HOF is basically Jann Wenner's house for the stuff he likes or wants people to think he likes so that they think he's cool or something. Procol Harum's and Warren Zevon's continued omissions are two exemplars of everything that's wrong with the RRHOF.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Warren Zevon's continued omissions

Wait --- what?

Dear Jann,

First, let me say I like Donna Summer. But she's in and Warren isn't? Wow. Just wow.

Oh, and you can bite me.


Mr. Minimac said...

A PH bio with intro by Martin Scorsese? Kindle edition is downloaded & ready to be enjoyed like a fine wine. Yes, there are a few of us that concur in this regard SS. Shine on.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Mr. Minimac, if that is the cursed Microsoft paper clip burning in hell, then I love you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Re 'maddox'
are you sure it wasn't 'mad dogs' ?
with right kind of English accent they would be hard to tell apart.