A Whiter Shade of Pale

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,485
922
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#1
The song, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” released by Procol Harum in 1967, is one of my favorite songs, but I have no idea why. The lyrics are whimsical and enchanting, but cryptic.

I know that Classic Records released a re-issue single of this song and test pressings of the single, including a 33/45 12" 180g Quiex LP.

Who knows the details of the recording history of this track? I ask because I personally think the recording quality sounds pretty poor.

In 1967 obviously it was an analog recording. Was it recorded originally in mono or in stereo?

Who has an original record of the song?

Who has the Classic Records re-issue?

How does the original pressing compare to the Classic Records re-issue?

Who has this on tape? How does the tape compare to the vinyl?
 
Last edited:
Mar 3, 2011
107
4
18
#3
My favorite piece as well. I have many stereo copies and none of them sounded good. The 45 EP (or singles I am not 100% sure) in mono at least sounds enjoyable although it probably fails in all audiophile terms. Its a really difficult piece to put on a decent stereo system. To appreciate it, I think all you need is a thick midband and a slightly boosted bass to enjoy the Hammond and bass lines, which takes just a simple soundbar to pull it off.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,514
591
113
#4
just imagine you are in your mid teens in 1967 and it's a slow dance. that's what i think of when i hear it.

the sonics are beside the point. always a favorite for me.
 
Likes: timztunz

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#5
Great song. Before the great Robin Trower joined the band, but still an incredible piece.

The song is perfect for the times, ( and probably even today). Perhaps that’s why Ron likes it so much.
 
Aug 25, 2010
991
18
18
Destiny
#6
One pf my favorites! Nothing beats hearing it live and they still tour! Just at hint at what you can see with live show that is from their Union Chaple DVD

 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,485
922
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#10
One pf my favorites! Nothing beats hearing it live and they still tour! Just at hint at what you can see with live show that is from their Union Chaple DVD


I have never, ever heard the full set of verses! This song — which I continue to find inexplicably mesmerizing — makes so much more sense with the two additional verses! No wonder the radio version was always utterly uninterpretable!

But WHY do we like the song so much???

Even with the four verses (only the last two of which give the lyrics a little bit of meaning, especially in light of the commentary by the songwriter), the lyrics still maintain only the most tenuous grip on understandability. I think the first two verses simply are not susceptible of coherent interpretation.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Robh3606
Feb 8, 2011
21,092
418
83
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#11
The song, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” released by Procol Harum in 1967, was one of my favorite songs, but I have no idea why.
Your first slow dance with a lover and love in your hearts both?
_____

In 1969 I was living in Quebec, near Montreal (French), and this is another song I like with beautiful heart memories ...


Must be the Hammond organ.
 
Last edited:

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,269
82
48
Pleasanton, CA
#12
What have the artists said about the song?
Keith Reid told Uncut magazine:
"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."​
I saw them live in Santa Monica in 1975 on a date, good show. I have two vinyl copies. Not the greatest sound quality, but not the worst, either. I like it the way it is because that is the way I heard it in records in the day, have no desire for better quality.​
 
Likes: Ron Resnick

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
692
291
63
#13
Perhaps because it was also one of the earliest rock songs to feature a Hammond B3??
I'm thinking Matthew Fisher played a Hammond M-102 for WSP.

Felix Cavaliere played a B3 as did Mark Stein, Steve Winwood, Jon Lord.
If you had a B3 (or M) you absolutely had to have Leslie speakers - and a crew.
 

XV-1

Well-Known Member
May 24, 2010
1,828
214
63
Sydney
#14
I have the 2003 Classic reissue of this, remastered by Burnie Grundman. Whiter Shade of Pale is on a separate 12 inch light green swirl coloured vinyl with one side @45 and the other @33.
Interestingly, even the Discogs entries for the two classic reissues is wrong. Hamburg replaces Conquistador on side one track one and Conquisador goes to side two, track 4.

It certainly sounds a LOT better than my 1990 Castle reissue. very enjoyable giving it a spin tonight.
 

SCAudiophile

Active Member
Sep 11, 2010
790
29
28
Greer South Carolina (USA)
#15
Beautiful composition, lyrics and overall, just a great musical work, a favorite here from that time as well!
 
Likes: Ron Resnick

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,514
591
113
#16
But WHY do we like the song so much???

Even with the four verses (only the last two of which give the lyrics a little bit of meaning, especially in light of the commentary by the songwriter), the lyrics still maintain only the most tenuous grip on understandability. I think the first two verses simply are not susceptible of coherent interpretation.
that sounds like a great description of 1967.

all the rules were being broken.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Likes: Ron Resnick

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#17
Ron, its a great song, but there are MANY great songs. so many to choose from that it could take ages to listen to just a small sampling.
Why do we like great songs...that is maybe the more pertinent question. As a musician, I know why I like them, because they resonate with me and
make me want to listen and play more. Sometimes, I even want to play them over and over--just to get that pleasure. WSOP has an excellent and catchy organ line...one that is unusual and- for the time- almost a revelation. It reverberates with our souls and that is what all musicians strive to accomplish...something that reverberates with our souls. WSOP definitely qualifies in that manner. Many others do too.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
692
291
63
#18
Even with the four verses (only the last two of which give the lyrics a little bit of meaning, especially in light of the commentary by the songwriter), the lyrics still maintain only the most tenuous grip on understandability
She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'

Life is like a beanstalk - isn't it?
 
Feb 15, 2017
525
190
43
Burbank, California
#19
Procol Harum is my favorite group, and one that I have followed since their first album. I saw them several times, but the best was at a rehearsal session for an upcoming show at the Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic (1973). The virtual un-amplified setting versus the over-amped live show was night and day.

Even though many years past their prime, I strongly recommend viewing the Live at Denmark 2006 videos on YouTube. Each song will make you a believer.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#20
I never saw them but loved their song and along with Silhouettes on the Shade by the Rays were the 2 best slow dance make out records at that time

Those two songs were played every Friday night at our fraternity house
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing