Procol Harum: “Quite Rightly So/In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence” (1968)

The bloom was off the rose, and the success of the band’s new single paled in comparison to their first hit.

Kronomyth 1.5: An ode by any other name.

Rome is burning, and I’ve once again stopped to listen to the fiddler. Fifty years ago, when this single was released, the fire started with the removal of the gold standard from US currency. Today, it’s Bitcoin. In between, pencil-thin economists have let their imaginations grow fat on the idea that economies create wealth not products, and now it’s the newly minted Bitcoin billionaires who will lift us up on their magnanimous shoulders with the promise of two non-fungible tokens in every pot. Unless, of course, the secret identity of the master tulipmaker is revealed. You see, then, why the sound of the violin is so sweet? It masks the sound of people eating one another. But I digress…

In the spring of 1968, Procol Harum’s rising stock was about to come crashing down to the commercial reality that, no, the group would not be the next Beatles. Their third single, which featured two new tracks, quietly disappeared with nothing more than a one-week cameo appearance on the UK charts. In a strange move, regional releases alternated which song was the A side. I’ve always preferred Quite Rightly So, which suggests a jaunty version of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence feels like an English novelty, although it’s not so far removed from The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.”

Despite commercial apathy, Procol Harum and their label liked “Quite Rightly So” enough to make it the lead track on their second album, Shine On Brightly. There, it fits in quite nicely with the rest of Keith Reid’s lyrics, which found him increasingly out of synch/touch with the external world.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Quite Rightly So (Matthew Fisher/Gary Brooker/Keith Reid) (3:39)
B1. In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence (Gary Brooker/Keith Reid) (2:58)

Original 7-inch single version (Germany/Norway)
A1. Quite Rightly So
B1. Rambling On

The Players

Gary Brooker (vocals, piano), Matthew Fisher (organ), David Knights (bass), Keith Reid (lyrics), Robin Trower (guitar), B.J. Wilson (drums). Produced by Denny Cordell.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on March 22, 1968 in the UK (Regal Zonophone, RZ 3007) and Singapore (EMI/Regal Zonophone, RZ-3007), in April 1968 in the US (A&M, 927) and in 1968 in Australia (Festival, FK-2272), Belgium (Stateside, RSS 125), France (Stateside, FSS 562), Germany and Norway (Polydor, 59 175), Italy (RCA Italia, NIL 9003) and the Netherlands (Stateside, HSS 1260) with regional picture sleeve. Reached #50 on the UK charts (charted on April 27, 1968 for one week.)

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