Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

Between 1967 and 1969, there was a new era of creativity in rock music, where just about every band wanted to evolve and create an album that would be considered a classic of the time. Once bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones stopped touring (in 1966), many bands decided to work harder in the studio to experiment and create something completely unique. Before marketing & pigeon-holing took over the Music Business, few Creative Musicians cared about or were held back by genre or style or expectation. Thus, practically every week during this era, 2 or 3 albums would be released and each one would be considered a classic today. The Summer of 1967 was the center of the Psychedelic Era and it was perhaps the only time when the underground (of creative experimentation & weirdness) rose to great popularity. Dozens (hundreds?!?) of my favorite bands all released incredible records during that time: the Mothers of Invention, Love, the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, Traffic, Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Family, Spirit, the Band, the list goes on & on…

One of my all-time favorite bands from the era & afterwards was/is Procol Harum. Starting with the first & only hit, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Summer of ’67), with a melody line influenced by Bach, they were in a class of their own from the start. Their first five albums, ‘Self-Titled’ through ‘Broken Barricades’ are all stone cold classics and still sound wonderful to me some 50 years later. The above song, “In Held ‘Twas In I”, takes up most of side 2 of their second album, ’Shine On Brightly’. It is an epic of sorts with thoughtful, philosophical lyrics with an appropriate wink of humor as well. The entire album is superb as is the next one, ‘A Salty Dog’ (1969). Strangely enough Procol Harum still exist today and released a new disc just a few years ago, which I still dug. Not too many of those sixties era groups still exist. I caught Procol Harum live five times between 1969 and 1973. The last time I caught them was in 1971 at the Academy of Music in Manhattan, here was the line-up: Yes (bottom of the bill & their first US tour), King Crimson (first tour since 1969, playing music from ‘Islands’) and Procol Harum (still great live!) A toast to Gary Brooker, founder, lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum.