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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