The Greatest Songs From Procol Harum
One Of The Best ’60s Acts
Procol Harum formed in 1967. With their smash hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, they broke into mainstream as the single sold over six million copies. Their name is a Latin phrase that’s roughly translated as “beyond these things”. They released ten albums before breaking up in 1977. For years, they’ve had several lineup changes with only founders Gary Brooker and Keith Reid as the only constant members.
“Procol always seems to have been well thought of. Everyone’s heard ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ so there’s something in common with everyone I meet.” – Gary Brooker
When asked about their breakup, Keith Reid admitted that it wasn’t a hard decision. He said:
“It was the only sensible thing to do. The band did a lot of good things, but I don’t miss it. I think the worst thing is when you read people moaning about the good old days. I can’t stand that.”
Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit their five best songs.
5. Whiskey Train
Robin Trower shined on this song. It’s groovy and badass!
Unreal. It’s hauntingly beautiful and beyond awesome.
3. A Salty Dog
It’s stunning and breathtaking. In an interview with SongFacts, Brooker said, “Usually the best combinations do happen very naturally. If we take something like ‘A Salty Dog’ that was a musical idea, it’s very much a type of chord progression with a certain rhythm. And I think soon after I got that idea, Keith sent me the words and they were already done, and they just seemed to fit with it very, very easily.”
One of Procol Harum’s most popular songs, Reid shared how they came up with it: “This particular time, though, I’d got down there and he’d been working on a tune. He said, ‘What does this sound like to you?’ And I said, ‘Oh, conquistador.’ It had a little bit of a Spanish flavor to it. I went into another room and started writing the words there and then. 99 out of 100 of those Procol Harum songs were written the words first, and then were set to music. But that particular one, the words hadn’t existed before he had the musical idea.”
1. A Whiter Shade of Pale
It’s their signature song and one that catapulted them to fame. It became an anthem during the 1967 Summer of Love and even without too much promotion, it peaked at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the UK charts. In 2008, Reid spoke to Uncut about the various interpretations, “I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room humming harder, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious with those images, I was trying to be evocative. I suppose it seems like a decadent scene I’m describing. But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then. I might have been smoking when I conceived it, but not when I wrote. It was influenced by books, not drugs.”