Though I fondly remember "A Whiter Shade of Pale" from earliest childhood - it was still on constant rotation on Radio 1 in the early '70s, after all - I only got 'round to giving Procol Harum's debut LP a listen a few weeks ago, a trifling 45 years late!
"Good things come to those that wait", etc - I'm genuinely flabbergasted at how fine an album it is. I've got a copy of the 1997 Repertoire edition, whereupon "Whiter Shade" is sequenced as the first track, followed by the original LP in it's entirety, & then a handful of contemporaneous singles & out-takes, & can honestly say that there's not a bad song on it. Even the otherwise unavailable bonus tracks (neither of which appear on the subsequent Westside or Salvo editions) - "Monsieur Armand" (an early version of "Monsieur R. Monde", from 1974's Exotic Birds & Fruit LP), & the bluesy "Seems Like I've Got the Blues All the Time" - are terrific.
Procol Harum itself is a filler-free 30-odd minutes of earthy, organ-driven, psych-tinged blues rock that thankfully sidesteps the toked-out lyrical pretension of The Moody Blues, et al. It has much more in common with Traffic's Mr. Fantasy, Jack Bruce's early solo LPs (Song For A Tailor, Harmony Row), or Pete Brown's sterling work with Piblokto! & Battered Ornaments, than the awkward, kaftan-clad whimsey of the burgeoning English psychedelic movement.
A modest masterpiece, frankly. I only wish I'd heard it a couple of decades earlier!