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?
I’m Ken Rundell. The Zoo is the radio station you’re 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) G’afternoon, Keith.
(Texan tones) Good afternoon!
How ya doin’?
I’m doin’ all right.
You’re dressed for Texas here, let me tell you.
I can’t hear you too well. Why don’t you read a note of Mary Had a Little Lamb or something so I can set a little level on you, there.
‘Mary had a little lamb; her [sic] fleece was white as snow …’
That’s 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? We’ll do it from this one, let the folks have a nice interview, as opposed to some snap, crackle, and pop in the background. There. We’ll get real cosy here.
Keith, of course, for those of you who are not real familiar with Procol, is the lyricist of the group.
You’ve been writing Procol’s lyrics - have you had an exclusive thing? You’ve been doing -
Every Procol tune, you’ve written the words for it.
Yes, that’s right.
That’s a lot of words..
That’s a lot of words. Well, Life is Like a Beanstalk, isn’t it? Up and down. I mean, Procol Harum is like, has sort of peaked and then had - had low spots and come back.
Yeah, that’s true.
It’s been a long career for you.
Yeah, well we’ve been - we’ve 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 it’s eight.
Is that right?
And that - but that’s 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, doesn’t he?
There was a guy who did it with King Crimson. I don’t know his name. There’s not - there’s not very many. I don’t know any of these people. I don’t know anybody else.
Does it - does it - I imagine it must put you in - in a strange place, but after eight years, you’ve 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 it’s 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 I’m doing that, I’m, you know, I’m being objective about the thing anyway: I’m listening to how it sounds and, you know, I think that that’s what I do, yeah -
- do that most nights.
Uh-huh. Mick Grabham, is it -
- is - is replacing Robin? How - how do you think that’s working out?
It’s worked out very well. I mean, it couldn’t have worked out better. I mean, we find really, I mean, particularly with the album that we’ve just done, that we couldn’t - we - we - we’re 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. Don’t - not at all.
Don’t see him any more?
I haven’t seen him since the day he left.
He’s 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 There’ll Be More, from the Home album.
Well, that’s good. I haven’t heard that for a few years
But I thought before we did that, though, we’d ask you to maybe give us a little bit of a background of what went into that tune. It’s one of your stranger ones, and you’ve had some strange ones. But - but Still There’ll Be More. There’s a lot of heartache and misery in that tune.
Well, it’s supposed to be a very venomous, you know, really a venomous outpouring at someone. You know, ‘I’ll bathe my eyes in a river of salt, and I’ll piss on your door, and blacken your Christmas’.
It’s 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 wasn’t ever on an album, except for the Best Of, was it?
No. It was released as a - it was our second single, back in ’67.
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 There’ll Be More.
While we were playing Homburg, someone called up and wanted to know what a Homburg was in the context of that song. It’s just a hat, isn’t it?
It’s a hat, yeah.
Is it -
It was made - made famous by Anthony Eden.
It doesn’t have anything to do or look anything like the hat you’ve got on today.
No, this is a -
What - what distinguishes a Homburg from other types of hats?
Well, about 30 bob a week.
(Laughs) It’s - it’s a well - it’s a hat for the well-to-do. Is that right?
Okay. And that song, then, wouldn’t be more or less a - well, it’s pretty obvious. Someone - someone just couldn’t - couldn’t understand what 'Homburg' meant -
- in the context of that song. It’s a - it’s a hat. Monsieur R. Monde is a strange tune. What’s behind that one?
Well, in fact, that’s - 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, “You should put it on the album.”
And you did.
And we did.
And there it is. Do you ever do In Held ’Twas In I any more?
Erm, well, yes, we do. I mean, we - we often do quite - quite a lot of it on stage.
We haven’t 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 - what’s going to take place tonight in the live concert? What - they’re going to do the - the same act that we -
Oh, no. We’re not going to do the same act that we did last night. We’re going to - we’re going to try and - we’re going to do some things that - that you can do on radio that you - possibly won’t 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 you’ve never heard before.
Aah, very fine. That’s tonight at 8 pm, live, right here on the ZEW, from January Sound Studio. Have you been down there yet?
Haven’t been down there, no.
Well, I think you’ll like it.
Some fine producers down there, especially Bob Pickering, who’ll 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, we’re really glad that - that you’all could do it for us and - and for the people out there because it’s - the neat part about it is there’s no ticket necessary. You just turn on your radio and there’s Procol, playing for you.
Yup, that’s it.
Thank you for stopping by, Keith.
And we’re going to do a couple of more Procol Harum tunes. And then it’s Mark Addy’s 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
Ken Rundel interview with Keith Reid of Procol Harum 1974
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