Year of Release: 1970
Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale" is obviously widely regarded as being one of the key singles of the late sixties. Selling ten million copies worldwide and sitting on top of the British charts for five weeks, it was a surprisingly rare occurrence for the time - a psychedelic pop single with huge across-the-board appeal.
Perhaps its no real surprise that other people tried to capitalise on its success by aping that classical organ sound. Among collectors, Felius Andromeda's "Meditations" is perhaps the best known (and most expensive) example, taking an epic, woebegone church organ riff and stitching an enormous ballad through the middle of it. Shy Limbs' "Reputation" tried to repeat Procol's trick too, only upped the ante with Moon-ish drum patterns and a greater sense of urgency.
Much later in the game, a group of French session musicians assembled to pull "Back In The Sun" together, which is once again impossible to listen to without doffing your cap to Procol's faintly bizarre yet monstrously huge hit. Softer, more jubilant and less surreal and threatening than its obvious influence, "Back In The Sun" leans more towards the anthemic side of things.
There's a curious outcome with all these records, though - none were particularly successful. This one was issued under the name Jupiter Sunset in the rest of Europe and the band had some moderate success there, most especially in Belgium where it hit the top ten, but it was widely ignored in Britain to the extent that stock copies of it seem hard to come by. Procol Harum's exercise in classical styled organ riffs and intense vocal performances probably seemed to point towards some kind of sophisticated pop future to some people at the time, but in reality the classical elements were simply siphoned off and fed into the cauldron of progressive rock, for better or worse. That's possibly not a terrible thing to have happened. Pop, after all, can live happily without such grandeur fogging up the grooves time and time again - sometimes a trick can and should only be performed to enormous popularity once.