Almanac Music: More of Procol Harum




1967: Grade 10 at boarding school; the Junior Boys Common Room with the old HMV radio from home a rare link to what was going on in the world; a mate, Danny, who was all over the pop music scene; an album – Procol Harum. 


‘A whiter shade of pale’ was, to paraphrase Col Ritchie from the other day, one of the greatest songs ever written – even if it did borrow more than a little from Bach’s ‘Air on a G string’. A majestic melody line, the melancholic lyrics, that descending bass line, the fulsome Hammond organ, the raspy vocal. It was the era in a nutshell.


Not long after came ‘Homburg’ with more of the same but different enough to draw us in all over again. It seemed ever so British/Continental/sophisticated. It had this callow youth hooked! Enjoy it again:





On the same album, but released as a single a few years later, was ‘Conquistador’, different in musical style (with a touch of mariachi for authenticity!) but still reflective and thoughtful in content. Here we go:





Gary Brooker and Keith Reid must surely rate among the best songwriters/composers of what was a prolific era.


What have you got on offer next week, Col?



To read Col Ritchie’s earlier offering on Procol Harum click here.



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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Brooker and Reid wrote some great songs together. It’s probably unfortunate they are only remembered for their one or two major hits. I think their lyrics were considered too obscure by radio programmers for their ‘pop’ audience and consequently never played. My 45rpm of ‘Homburg’ I bashed to death but not appreciated by my mates. ‘Strong as Samson’ is a classic but I doubt if anyone heard the song on commercial radio. I wonder if Reid’s lyrics have been published in book form.

  2. You are correct, Col.
    It is probably unfair that Procol Harem will be remembered only for Whiter Shade.

    Cheers Ian.

  3. Ken Richards says

    Such coincidence! Thanks for the piece. I was reminiscing with a friend over the weekend, he reflecting on his first concert, which was Procol Harum at Festival Hall. The bass made the roof rattle. I was always impressed with the orchestrated version of ‘Conquistador’, but happened on this brilliant full concert in Denmark in 2006. Gary Brooker still maintains fine voice, and the show is a cracker.

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