Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BATTLE OF THE BANDS XXXI - Halloweens a Comin'






Recently, I been sick. Sicker than I care to acknowledge or talk about, so, I’m not gonna bore you with the details, but in keeping with the Holiday Halloween Spirit I’ve had so much blood drawn that I look a lot like the title of my BATTLE OF THE BANDS choice today. Since I’m never sure how long I’ll be able to hold my head up, let’s get right to it, shall we?

Today’s choice is…have you guessed it yet? ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. It was originally written and performed by a British group – Procol Harum. Here’s what Wacky-watchee says about them and the song;

"A Whiter Shade of Pale" is the debut single by the English rock band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967. The record reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June 1967, and stayed there for six weeks.[1] Without much promotion, it reached No. 5 on the US charts.[2] One of the counterculture anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.[3][4]

With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, written by the song's co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid,[5] and organist Matthew Fisher, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reached No. 1 in several countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic. As of 2009, it was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the United Kingdom,[6] and the UK performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognised it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years.[7] Also in 2004, Rolling Stone placed "A Whiter Shade of Pale" No. 57 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 1977, the song was named joint winner (along with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody") of the Best British Pop Single 1952–1977 at the Brit Awards.[8] In 1998 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[9] More than 1000 recorded cover versions by other artists are known.[10] The song has been included in many music compilations over the decades and has also been used in the soundtracks of numerous films, including The Big Chill, Purple Haze, Breaking the Waves, The Boat That Rocked, Oblivion, and in Martin Scorsese's segment of New York Stories. Cover versions of the song have also been featured in many films, for example by King Curtis in Withnail and I and by Annie Lennox in The Net.

The original writing credits were for Brooker and Reid only. On 30 July 2009, Matthew Fisher won co-writing credit for adding the organ parts to the original music in a unanimous ruling from the Law Lords.

I admit, I knew none of this until I looked it up. Next Wacky-Watchee goes on to talk about the lyrics and their meaning;

Reid got the title and starting point for the song at a party. He overheard someone at the party saying to a woman, "You've turned a whiter shade of pale," and the phrase stuck in his mind.[12][13] The original lyrics had four verses, of which only two are heard on the original recording. The third verse has been heard in live performances by Procol Harum, and more seldom also the fourth.[14] The author of Procol Harum: beyond the pale, Claes Johansen, suggests that the song "deals in metaphorical form with a male/female relationship which after some negotiation ends in a sexual act."[13] This is supported by Tim de Lisle in Lives of the Great Songs, who remarks that the lyrics concern a drunken seduction, which is described through references to sex as a form of travel, usually nautical, using mythical and literary journeys.[15] Other observers have also commented that the lyrics concern a sexual relationship.[12]

Structurally and thematically, the song is unusual in many respects. While the recorded version is 4:03 long, it is composed of only two verses, each with chorus. The piece is also more instrument-driven than most songs of the period, and with a much looser rhyme scheme. Its unusually allusive and referential lyrics are much more complex than most lyrics of the time. Thus, this piece can be considered an early example of progressive rock.

The phrase a whiter shade of pale has since gained widespread use in the English language, noticed by several dictionaries.[16][17][18] As such, the phrase is today often used in contexts independent of any consideration of the song. It has also been heavily paraphrased, in forms like an Xer shade of Y, to the extent that it has been recognised[19][20] as a snowclone – a type of cliché and phrasal template.

Seriously? I have to admit that I never got that, but then most of the music of that time was purported to end in a sexual act, (one way or another) eh?

‘Bout now I suppose you’re wondering who I’m putting up against the original Procol Harum version…well, think again. I ain’t using the Procol Harum version. If you want to hear it, you’ll have to go to YouTube yourself (I just ain’t up to making too many links today). It would be no fun in posting the original, cause most of you would probably vote for it based on familiarity. As it turns out this song has been covered by numerous folks (FYI – even my ole pal Willie has a version, but no he’s not in the running today either).

First let’s hear from Slowhand hisself; Mr. Eric Clapton.


Next up, Miss Annie Lennox.



OK, now I sure do hope you guys know what to do and how to do it, cause again, I just ain’t up to too much ‘splainin today. Click yourself on over to the home of TSMOTP Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy and see what he has cooked up for you in his BATTLE and check out the links he will undoubtedly provide to the other participants. If you are so inclined, post you own BATTLE but, please say so in the comment box, so we can all drop by and vote at your space.
I’ll be back on the 21st with my vote and the final tally. Thank you very much for supporting BOTB and please try to visit all of the participants.

39 comments:

  1. I'm not a Lennox fan, but I actually like her version better.

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    1. And sorry you've been a human pincushion lately.

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    2. I admit, your vote kind of surprised me.

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    3. Oh, and thanks for the sympathy.

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  2. The Clapton version actually features Gary Brooker (from Procol Harem) on the keys and singing, so it's a lot like Procol Harem live with Clapton. With EC's guitar it adds a lot of very tasty playing. It's also the much, MUCH more soulful rendition.

    Annie Lennox's version is interesting with a synth-pop interpretation, but it completely lacks the soul and earthiness of the EC/Brooker version. It has some catchy production, but it misses the emotional impact of the live version.

    So Slowhand and Brooker (and friends) for me.

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    1. You know Mr. Music Guru, I actually included ALL that stuff from Wacky-Watchee just so I could beat you to the punch, BUT no matter the lengths I go to, YOU still come up with something that I didn't know. Ha, ha ha! I hope you know I'm joking, cause I DO appreciate the EXTRA information and I hope some of my other readers do to.

      I agree that is is in fact a more soulful rendition. Thanks for the info and the vote. I did kind of think you would go with Clapton.

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  3. I gotta go with Chris on this-Clapton's version wins handily, although if the original were a choice.

    I followed that 2009 settlement closely, and while I agreed that the keyboard riff was a key element, I thought it was unfair to initiate a lawsuit forty years after the fact.

    That suit wasn't about wanting songwriting credit-if it were, he'd have complained decades ago.

    It was about "I blew all of my rock star money on (fill in name of excess here) and want more."

    Nice choice!

    Larry

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    1. I'm with you on that lawsuit. Are you kidding me? Forty years later it is all of a sudden important? Ya gotta love some of these guys.

      I knew if I made Procol Harum a choice, this would most likely be another shut-out. I've had enough of em for my BOTB career.

      Got you down for 'Slowhand'.

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  4. Eric Clapton, no question. The excellence of the instrumentals and the artistry--hands down.

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    1. Another Clapton fan. Thanks Susan. I appreciate you doming by and voting.

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  5. I'm going with Annie Lenox's version. I hate to say it, but Clapton's is even more painfully slow than the original.

    John Holton
    The Sound Of One Hand Typing

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    1. And Annie Lennox makes a comeback. Got you down John as a vote for the un-painfully slow.

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  6. Hope you get to feeling better real soon.

    If you hadn't had used the Lennox cover of this song I would have mentioned it. That albums has some great covers and I will probably use at least one of them eventually.

    Clapton's version is well played, no doubt about that, but I found it to be rather boring and almost pretentious in that Clapton sort of way.

    The Lennox version is beautiful. She handily wins my vote while slow hand does not.

    Arlee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thanks Arlee, I appreciate it.

      I'm surprised that you would call Clapton's version 'rather boring and almost pretentious', but I will admit that is is s-l-o-w.

      Counted you in Annie's corner on this one.

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  7. I liked the original by Procol Harum. It is mentioned a couple times (in a very humorous way) in the movie 'THE COMMITMENTS', which is highly entertaining and which The Great LC (DiscConnected) turned me onto many years ago. (I'm surprised he didn't mention 'The Commitments' in his comment.)

    Clapton is good but greatly overrated. But when I saw he was going up against Annie Lennox I figured for sure I would vote "Clapton". I can't stand Annie Lennox nor the Eurythmics.

    Her version started out with the usual synthesizer/drum machine crap and I thought: I thought so.

    But as soon as she started singing I thought: Whoa! Hold that thought! Hold EVERYTHING! She might actually have a shot at my vote.

    One more minute into it and I KNEW she had my vote.

    I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you... to find myself voting for Annie Lennox! Not only am I voting for Annie Lennox against Clapton, but I suspect I would even vote for Annie Lennox against Procol Harum.

    Ain't 'BOTB' sumpthin else?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. When it comes to BOTB it's always a 'crap shoot', ya just never know what's gonna happen. I actually thought Clapton, et al, might run away with this one, but if my quick scan is correct, I have a real 'horse race' on my hands so far. I think they may even be tied up. Just goes to show...

      I'm quite pleased with myself that I could SHOCK you with your own vote. Being another 'Music Guru', I never really expect to surprise you much. I will admit your vote here surprised me a bit also. I am SHOCKED that you even think your would vote A L over Procol Harum.

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  8. Clapton sure gets my vote, but I enjoyed both

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    1. And Clapton makes a come back. Thanks Pat, always appreciate your support and vote.

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  9. First I should note that the PH version is probably in my top 50 of all time, and one of a handful that are still climbing after all these years. So the good thing is that you had two different versions, else the battle would have been decided in the womb.

    I don't come in with STMC's preconceived notions on Annie Lennox, so it's a fair fight (unlike many of the BOTB's today for me.) I don't know as I'd take her over PH, but I will over Clapton. I keep you in my prayers.

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    1. First and foremost, Chris, I appreciate all the prayers I can get.

      I also appreciate your vote. My first, quick read through of your comment had me thinking this was a vote for Clapton, but I put the specs on and have it straight now. Got you down as another one for Annie.

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  10. Replies
    1. OK, H G Writer counted you in Clapton's camp.

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  11. I'm gonna have to give it to Clapton. With that said, I thought I would dislike Annie Lennox's version, as I'm not a big fan of hers, but her version surprised me. I like it... just not as much as Clapton's.

    Oh, and count me down as someone else praying for your recovery. Hang in there!

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    1. Thank you very much, I can use all the prayers you got.

      Got you down as a vote for Clapton and the gang. Seems you're not alone in likink both versions.

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  12. Maybe it's been too long since I've listened to the original (thought I don't think so) and I don't have time to do it now. BUT, it seemed to me that the Clapton version just wasn't all that different. I read Chris Fries' comment and he said that...The Clapton version actually features Gary Brooker (from Procol Harem) on the keys and singing, so it's a lot like Procol Harem live with Clapton.

    I think that explains why the Clapton version sounds so very much like the original to me. And it was good. And I thought I might very well vote for it anyway.

    Here is the thing, though... I, being a child of the 80s, like Annie Lennox and synth-pop. Although, to me, this song didn't sound all that synthy to my ears (comparatively). I really liked it. It was different from the original. The thing that really shocked me was her voice. Sometimes it can be almost rough (think Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This). Her voice was so pleasing in this song that it nearly doesn't sound like the same person.

    Unlike StMc, who said he would or might vote for it over the original.. well, I wouldn't go that far. I would still vote for the original, but this is an excellent cover. Thank you for sharing it!!!

    So chalk up another for Miss Lennox.

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    1. I am so sorry that you've been feeling poorly. I sure do hope things turn around soon and you are healthy and well soon!!!!

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    2. As I said earlier, this has turned into a real 'horse race', the votes just keep going back and forth - and I thought it was going to be a runaway. Just goes to show, with BOTB you can never really predict.

      Chris Fries did make it clear as to just why the Clapton version sounds so much like Procol Harum, although a bit slower. I will also agree that Annie's version is not her normal fare.

      Thanks for the well wishes.

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  13. I'm so sorry you've been ill. I hope you are feeling better ASAP!

    Because I've always thought this song had more to do with acid trips than being drunk, I'm going with Annie Lennox because it sounds much more ethereal. Clapton's sounds too much like the original, particularly the singing, though the guitar work is very nice.

    Sending you healing thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Hey Bish, glad you stopped by and thank you very much for the well wishes.

      If you read what W-W says the sond is supposed to be talking about a sexual encounter - OK, I never really got that, but whatever they say.

      got you down for the ethereal Miss Lennox.

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  14. This is a song I love and actually my brother used this as his first dance for his first (yup first) wedding. I go with Clapton. It deserves that blues feel and his voice goes with this song. I know the Annie Lennox version well and listened again to it to make sure I felt the same way and I do...boring. I love Annie Lennox and her voice is amazing but I never liked her rendition of this song. So Clapton gets my vote. I hope they find out what is affecting you. From someone who has been a human pin cushion and exhausted and in pain constantly, I know how you feel even if the health issue is completely different. Persistence is key and not letting the Dr's get away with crap. I hope you get answers soon

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  15. Thanks Birgit, I appreciate your thoughts and well wishes. You are absolutely right about not letting the doctors get away with any carp and believe me I know love to.

    Got you down as another vote for 'Slowhand', aka Mr. Clapton.

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  16. I can listen to Mr Clapton all day *deep sighs* and Annie has a deep, masculine voice nearly the same. This was a tough choice, but I think I liked the Annie version just little better - this morning anyways.

    I hope you start feeling better. I was almost expecting a vampire, blood draining song today :)

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    1. Vampire blood draining song? know any? Thanks for the well wishes.

      Got you down for Annie. Seems a lot of folks feel just like you. Both versions are good. I love a BATTLE like that; when it's hard to decide.

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  17. The Clapton version is pretty much an All Star version of the original with Gary Brooker. I do like the female voice on the song. So my vote is is for Annie because she adds something to the song, also she dares to modernize the instrumentation of the song. A tough choice, but all the all stars in the world can't make a masterpiece better in this case, so I embrace the changes.

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    1. You make a good point Mike. Thanks for stopping by and for the vote. Another vote for Miss Lennox.

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  18. Got to go with Eric Clapton on this one although I like Annie too. The original brings back memories and the soft voice of Eric is well suited to this song.

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    1. Guess I didn't know that wasn't Clapton singing, but I still vote for the original. . .I remember that one.

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  19. I'm going with Annie. I wasn't crazy about the background vocals but I just liked her voice better for this song.

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  20. Hi FAE! I hope you're doing much much better! I've been thinking about you and sending out positive thoughts and prayers!

    This Battle has turned out much closer than I thought it would be -- I was expecting a run-away by Clapton, but I guess I'm just going by my taste. I should know better than to ever assume how a BOTB is going to go, lol!

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