Wednesday, October 22, 2008

twin shades of whiter than pale

both sides of the atlantic, 1967, "leaving for the coast".

Memphis boys, The Box Tops were nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1967: the first, 'Best Vocal Group Performance', for their 45, "The Letter" but also - perhaps less well remembered - 'Best Contemporary Group Performance' for their cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", produced by Dan Penn.

It is Chilton's vocal, though - blacker than black - which seals this performance as something worthy of serious reinvestigation.*

Alex Chilton: lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Bill Cunningham: bass and keyboards; John Evans: guitar and keyboards; Danny Smythe: drums; Gary Talley: lead guitar.

Lyrics, of course, by Keith Reid over a J.S. Bach improvisation provided by Gary Brooker and Hammond organist, Matthew Fisher. Recorded at Olympic Studios, London. Produced by Denny Cordell; engineered by Keith Grant.

Gary Brooker, voice and piano; Matthew Fisher, Hammond organ; David Knights, bass; Ray Royer, guitar and Bill Eyden, drums.

PROCOL HARUM: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE from "A Whiter Shade Of Pale b/w Lime Street Blues" 45 (Regal Zonophone / Deram) 1967 (UK)

THE BOX TOPS: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE from "The Letter / Neon Rainbow" LP (Bell) 1967 (US)

* For the record, on reflection that's not entirely fair to the rest of those Tops. A solid group performance with some excellent understated guitar licks and percussion.


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