Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Whiter Shade of Pale" by Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve

Song#:  1903
Date:  05/19/1984
Debut:  95
Peak:  94
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This side-project band was developed by Sammy Hagar and guitarist Neal Schon. Both artists were in a down-time period with Hagar coming off of his successful Three Lock Box album and Schon done touring with his band Journey following their Frontiers LP. After meeting and getting to know one another, the pair decided to write some song, form a band, and see what might happen. They brought on board bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve (former of Santana) and proceeded to prepare for a series of shows that would take place over a three-week period. During that time, two of the shows were recorded and songs from those performances were culled for an album titled Through the Fire. Although the tracks were live, they were edited to eliminate crowd noise and guitar overdubs were added. It gave the LP a studio recording sound, yet was live (although some accounts say there was a lot more studio trickery involved). The album first got started with the #15 Rock track "Top of the Rock," followed by the #37 "Missing You." Then, this song was chosen for actual single release. Although it reached #30 at Rock, the song tanked at Pop and dropped out of sight after two weeks. After the album's run, the individual band members went back to their day jobs and never reconvened for any kind of follow-up.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that I've never really liked this song. Frankly, I have no idea what the thing is about and its borrowed-from-classical guitar melody creates a kind of dirge that just bores me. Yes, I know it is one of the great classic rock songs from the 60s, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And I don't. This rocked up version by Hagar & Co. doesn't do a thing to change my mind. It's all a bit messy. There is enough reverb on this thing to shatter windows a mile away. Not sure if it is there to cover up some performance sins or that's just the way it sounded at the venue. The guitar solo is a bit over the top and at the end of the tune, the engineer/producer seemed to freeze the last note and then faded it quickly so the crowd noise would be masked. It doesn't sound right. Why on earth they tried to turn a live performance into a studio recording is beyond me. It didn't work. All four performers on this song had, and would, do far, far better work than this.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song first done by the British rock band Procol Harem. Their original 1967 version was the band's debut single and it hit #1 in the UK and #5 in the US. It would eventually sell 10 million copies worldwide. Many artists would cover the song, but only two others besides HSAS were able to spin it into a single that would reach the Pop chart. R&B vocal group The Hesitations would get their version to #100 in 1968 and singer R.B. Greaves' take would go to #82 in 1970. Annie Lennox would famously cover the tune for her 1995 solo album Medusa and it would get to #16 in the UK, but in the US the single just barely missed the Pop chart reaching #101 (aka #1 on the Bubbling Under chart).


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