For some bands, a hit single can be the kiss of death. It blows up the charts, people buy it by the millions and… it’s all they ever want to know about you. You could make 20 albums and no one would care, no matter how good those albums might be, because the consumer just isn’t interested in anything else you’ve done once they’ve spent those three minutes with you.
This is the fate that has befallen the British psychedelic band Procol Harum. Their debut single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” was a monster, motherfucker hit right out of the gate, and to date it’s sold over 10 million copies. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and made Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” And then it all dried up. They never saw success like that again.
The band is still touring and recording, so it’s not accurate to say that they fell on hard times after having a hit, or even that they were forgotten. But the fact that they never saw the top of the mountain again goes to show that you can create a timeless classic that everyone knows, that’s appeared in multiple major motion pictures, that’s covered by Annie Lennox, and it doesn’t translate to wider success for your group.
As a means of addressing this conundrum, The Z Review has compiled a list of 10 songs, one from each of their first 10 albums, to familiarize you with the material that’s as good as (if not better than) “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” but for one reason or another got lost under the sofa. We hope that after you read this and listen to the clips, you’ll agree that it’s worth doing your own exploration of the band’s catalog. There’s a ton of good stuff there.
“Repent Walpurgis” from “Procol Harum” (1967)
“Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)” from “Shine on Brightly” (1968)
“A Salty Dog” from “A Salty Dog” (1969)
“Still There’ll Be More” from “Home” (1970)
“Simple Sister” from “Broken Barricades” (1971)
“All This and More” from “Live: In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra” (1972)
“Grand Hotel” from “Grand Hotel” (1973)
“New Lamps for Old” from “Exotic Birds and Fruit” (1974)
“Fool’s Gold” from “Procol’s Ninth” (1975)
“Strangers in Space” from “Something Magic” (1977)
If you enjoyed this, check out some other great stuff on The Z Review