Procol Harum “Procol Harum”

Posted 14 Sep 2011 in 00s, Albums of 1967, Albums of the 60s, Rock + Roll

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#495 in the Series) is the debut album from Procol Harum.

This was Procol Harum’s debut album and it was released in 1967.  I’ll go and say it. I think it contains two of the best songs of the decade. One for sure, the other, maybe it’s more of a personal favorite.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that I’m referring to “Whiter Shade of Pale.” This is an absolute 100% masterpiece of a song.  It was written by the band’s lead vocalist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid. (Or was it? More on that later) And Yes, I did say lyricist.  Keith Reid was considered a full-fledged band member even though; he did not play nor sing on the album.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” was the first song that Procol Harum ever recorded. Besides Brooker, it also featured Dave Knights (bass), Matthew Fisher (organ), Ray Royer (guitar) and Bill Eyden (drums).  “Come on dude”, you might be saying “Robin Trower” was Procol Harum’s guitarist.  Right you are, but he (and drummer B.J. Wilson) joined the band AFTER this song was recorded. This is the only song that Royer and Eyden were on. After one song, they were permanently replaced.

The other song that I’m referring to as a 60’s classic was “Conquistador.”  This didn’t stand the test of time as much as “Pale,” but I always loved it. I was nine in 1967 and this was right at the time that I was beginning to dig rock and roll.  It’s safe to say that this was one of my first musical loves.

Let’s go back to the writing of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Original writing credits went to only Brooker and Reid.  In 2000, organist Matthew Fisher suit asking for songwriting royalties. He felt that his organ line was such an important part of the track that he deserved “a taste.” The courts agreed with him, so he was given the right to collect on royalties moving forward, but not past.  Brooker and Reid appealed and won on the grounds that Fisher waited too long to file his lawsuit. Fisher then appealed that ruling and then he won again.  It was also revealed that he did indeed tried to file numerous times and was told by the courts that it was a waste of time, that he didn’t have a case.

His Hammond B3 organ line is indeed have a huge part of the track, but many musicians I know, feel writing credits should be for original melody and lyrics. Fisher did not write the melody, he only played within it.

Your thoughts?

Track Listing

Original U.S. release

All songs by Brooker and Reid, except when noted.

  1. “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
  2. “She Wandered Through the Garden Fence”
  3. “Something Following Me”
  4. “Mabel”
  5. “Cerdes (Outside the Gates Of)”
  6. “A Christmas Camel”
  7. “Conquistador”
  8. “Kaleidoscope”
  9. “Salad Days (Are Here Again)”
  10. “Repent Walpurgis” (Matthew Fisher)


  • Matthew Fisher – organ
  • Dave Knights – bass guitar
  • B.J. Wilson – drums
  • Robin Trower – guitar
  • Gary Brooker – piano and vocals
  • Keith Reid – lyrics

On “A Whiter Shade of Pale” only:

  • Ray Royer (in place of Trower) – guitar
  • Bill Eyden [8] (in place of Wilson) – drums


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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Lisa (30 May 2012, 0:16)

    Is it wrong for me to love this song even if I was born in 1968? Is it wrong for me to love this cool album of the day? …I think not 🙂

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