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Procol Harum ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ stays top of the Boom Radio Top 200

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Procol Harum ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ stays top of the Boom Radio Top 200

Listeners have voted for the Top 200 for the fourth year…

Procol Harum and A Whiter Shade Of Pale remains unmoved at the top of the annual chart, which launched with Boom Radio in 2021. The song which was at the top of the pop charts in the summer of 1967 was composed by Gary Brooker with lyrics by Keith Reid and an unforgettable organ section by Matthew Fisher.

Speaking to Channel 4 in 2000 Gary said of the song “I think it’s a hit because it’s mysterious. It’s a mystery.” He added he got the idea for the tune from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on the G String but muddled it up slightly, “I’d heard the tune in a cigar advert, but I got it a bit wrong. I thought that [the outcome] was an interesting music idea.” Matthew Fisher added, “What I would say generally about the organ part is that all the way through [the song] it is doing a counter-melody to the vocals. I’m doing things when [Gary] isn’t doing something vocally.”

On the success of the hit Gary recalled to Channel 4’s The 100 Greatest Number One Hit Singles, “Whiter Shade of Pale came out on a Friday, and two weeks later it was number one. We didn’t even have any clothes, in fact, we weren’t even sure why we were called Procol Harum other than it was the name of a friend’s cat and we thought that sounds cool.” In the same programme speaking of Keith Reid’s lyrics Matthew noted, “Keith always sent his lyrics with no ‘dear Matthew, dear Gary’ just the lyrics.”

This left the rest of the band to wonder what the song’s words meant. “You had to guess where they came from or what they were for” Matthew recalled, Gary added, “They’re ambiguous, but there’s never been a problem with them otherwise I don’t think the song would still be popular… the miller’s tale was that [Geoffrey] Chaucer?” Matthew added, “‘Wandered through my playing cards’ I always thought that was a reference to Alice in Wonderland.”

Just for fun, for comparison, how both the Channel 4 and Boom Radio top ten differ. In 2000 Tyne Tees Television, who produced the 100 Greatest Number One Hit Singles saw the UK public vote for their 100 singles. Over the past few weeks, Boom Radio has done similar. However, with two decades between each polls, the top ten tracks look very different. A Whiter Shade of Pale didn’t make the TV Top Ten, it featured at number 19 while Channel 4’s number one track Imagine by John Lennon fell in at 19 in Boom Radio’s chart.

There are some tracks that make both Top Ten’s including The Beatles with Hey Jude and Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen.

Boom Radio 2024 Top Ten

10 – The Beatles – Hey Jude

9 – The Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin

8 – The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

7 – Fleetwood Mac – Albatross

6 – The Beatles – In My Life

5 – Eagles – Hotel California

4 – The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

3 – Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

2 – Simon And Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

1 – A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

Channel 4 2000 Top Ten

10 – Bryan Adams – Everything I Do, I Do It For You

9 – Spiller ft Sophie Ellis Bextor – Groovejet, If This Ain’t Love

8 – Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

7 – The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

6 – Ben E. King – Stand By Me

5 – Police – Every Breath You Take

4 – ABBA – Dancing Queen

3 – The Beatles – Hey Jude

2 – Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

1 – John Lennon – Imagine

Boom Radio’s full 200 tracks can be seen here.

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