Ken Rundel interview with Keith Reid of Procol Harum 1974
This Keith Reid interview was broadcast from Texas, USA, on 4 July 1974, before Procol Harum gave the concert whose setlist is recorded here. Considering the unusual setlist, and KR's comments about 'a really good tape', one wonders whether the band intended at some stage to release the concert as a live album?
Iím Ken Rundell. The Zoo is the radio station youíre tuned to. And Keith Reid is with us. (English tones) Good afternoon.
(Solemnly) Good afternoon.
Or should I say it in true Texan style? (Texan tones) Gíafternoon, Keith.
(Texan tones) Good afternoon!
How ya doiní?
Iím doiní all right.
Youíre dressed for Texas here, let me tell you.
I canít hear you too well. Why donít you read a note of Mary Had a Little Lamb or something so I can set a little level on you, there.
ĎMary had a little lamb; her [sic] fleece was white as snow Öí
Thatís a little better. Still getting a lot of, a lot of hiss in the background. Maybe we ought to do it from over here. Do you want to slide on around here? Weíll do it from this one, let the folks have a nice interview, as opposed to some snap, crackle, and pop in the background. There. Weíll get real cosy here.
Keith, of course, for those of you who are not real familiar with Procol, is the lyricist of the group.
Youíve been writing Procolís lyrics - have you had an exclusive thing? Youíve been doing -
Every Procol tune, youíve written the words for it.
Yes, thatís right.
Thatís a lot of words..
Thatís a lot of words. Well, Life is Like a Beanstalk, isnít it? Up and down. I mean, Procol Harum is like, has sort of peaked and then had - had low spots and come back.
Yeah, thatís true.
Itís been a long career for you.
Yeah, well weíve been - weíve been going now for seven years, which is a long time.
And how many albums does that take us through, about eight or ten?
I think itís eight.
Is that right?
And that - but thatís including the live album, as well.
Are you the only person that you know of that works in this capacity with a band, writing lyrics but not performing with the band, or you know of others that do that?
Oh, I mean there are others. I mean, Bernie Taupin does it with Elton John, doesnít he?
There was a guy who did it with King Crimson. I donít know his name. Thereís not - thereís not very many. I donít know any of these people. I donít know anybody else.
Does it - does it - I imagine it must put you in - in a strange place, but after eight years, youíve probably gotten used to it. I was thinking last night, sitting way back in the - in the - almost the top row of the balcony and watching you perform, wondering whether or not you - what kind of perspective you had when the group performs a concert. Do you sit backstage? Or do you stay at home? Do you -
Ah no -
- kind of check out the crowd, or like -
Well, I usually help out with the, you know, with the sound mixing. You know, I usually rush round the hall and go back and tell them how itís sounding in different places -
- things like that.
Do you ever do just a totally objective thing, just to seat yourself way up high in a corner of the - of the hall and take it all in?
Well, I think that when Iím doing that, Iím, you know, Iím being objective about the thing anyway: Iím listening to how it sounds and, you know, I think that thatís what I do, yeah -
- do that most nights.
Uh-huh. Mick Grabham, is it -
- is - is replacing Robin? How - how do you think thatís working out?
Itís worked out very well. I mean, it couldnít have worked out better. I mean, we find really, I mean, particularly with the album that weíve just done, that we couldnít - we - we - weíre capable of doing things now with Mick on guitar that we never were with Robin at all.
Um-hmm. Do you still have any connections with Robin? Do you -
No. Donít - not at all.
Donít see him any more?
I havenít seen him since the day he left.
Heís been busy.
I noticed you wore your - your Home t-shirt today.
And it was very coincidental: I had a call about an hour ago from someone wanted to hear Still Thereíll Be More, from the Home album.
Well, thatís good. I havenít heard that for a few years
But I thought before we did that, though, weíd ask you to maybe give us a little bit of a background of what went into that tune. Itís one of your stranger ones, and youíve had some strange ones. But - but Still Thereíll Be More. Thereís a lot of heartache and misery in that tune.
Well, itís supposed to be a very venomous, you know, really a venomous outpouring at someone. You know, ĎIíll bathe my eyes in a river of salt, and Iíll piss on your door, and blacken your Christmasí.
Itís supposed to be really a - telling somebody off.
All right. It - it gets it across. Definitely. [Gap for music] 'Shoes are laced up wrong.' KZEW on your radio. Some tunes from Procol Harum there. Homburg from - well, actually, it wasnít ever on an album, except for the Best Of, was it?
No. It was released as a - it was our second single, back in í67.
And we heard Monsieur R. Monde from the new LP, which is called Exotic Birds and Fruit, and from the Home album, a thing called Still Thereíll Be More.
While we were playing Homburg, someone called up and wanted to know what a Homburg was in the context of that song. Itís just a hat, isnít it?
Itís a hat, yeah.
Is it -
It was made - made famous by Anthony Eden.
It doesnít have anything to do or look anything like the hat youíve got on today.
No, this is a -
What - what distinguishes a Homburg from other types of hats?
Well, about 30 bob a week.
(Laughs) Itís - itís a well - itís a hat for the well-to-do. Is that right?
Okay. And that song, then, wouldnít be more or less a - well, itís pretty obvious. Someone - someone just couldnít - couldnít understand what 'Homburg' meant -
- in the context of that song. Itís a - itís a hat. Monsieur R. Monde is a strange tune. Whatís behind that one?
Well, in fact, thatís - the words for that were written a long, long time ago. And when we were making the - the new album, we were just playing around with, you know, different things. And that - well, that turned out really well and everyone said, ďYou should put it on the album.Ē
And you did.
And we did.
And there it is. Do you ever do In Held íTwas In I any more?
Erm, well, yes, we do. I mean, we - we often do quite - quite a lot of it on stage.
We havenít been doing it on this tour. But I think we were doing it - on our last tour, we were doing it.
Do you have any idea what - whatís going to take place tonight in the live concert? What - theyíre going to do the - the same act that we -
Oh, no. Weíre not going to do the same act that we did last night. Weíre going to - weíre going to try and - weíre going to do some things that - that you can do on radio that you - possibly wonít come across in a 20,000-seater auditorium, you know.
Excellent. Excellent. That sounds good. New stuff, or old stuff, or in-between?
New stuff. We hope to do some things that youíve never heard before.
Aah, very fine. Thatís tonight at 8 pm, live, right here on the ZEW, from January Sound Studio. Have you been down there yet?
Havenít been down there, no.
Well, I think youíll like it.
Some fine producers down there, especially Bob Pickering, whoíll probably be handling the sound tonight -
- with help from your man, Terry.
Yes. Yeah, good. Well, I hope so. I mean, we hope to - we hope to get a really good tape from it.
Good. Well, weíre really glad that - that youíall could do it for us and - and for the people out there because itís - the neat part about it is thereís no ticket necessary. You just turn on your radio and thereís Procol, playing for you.
Yup, thatís it.
Thank you for stopping by, Keith.
And weíre going to do a couple of more Procol Harum tunes. And then itís Mark Addyís turn on the radio. This is KZEW. Something from the - the live album with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra ... .
(thanks, Jill, for all the typing)
Keith Reid's BtP page
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