In Britain, only the “Whiter Shade of Pale” single was released on Deram Records. Their self titled debut LP would be the first release on the newly resurrected Regal Zonophone label – a subsidiary of EMI. In the US, the first Procol Harum LP was issued on Deram and led with “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and eliminated “Good Captain Clack” from the LP’s lineup. Additionally, the song order varied between the transatlantic versions, but “Repent Walpurgis” was the final cut on both.
Written by organist Matthew Fisher, “Repent Walpurgis” is one of the more powerful tunes on the album. Fishers’ overdriven Hammond Organ, Gary Brooker’s piano, and those guitar leads from Robin Trower just conjure up all kinds of images. Fisher felt the song was full of angst and that he thought it should be named “Repent.” One of his band mates said it reminded him of Walpurgis Night – or witches night that occurs prior to St. Walpurga’s Day on May 1. So they combined the thoughts into the title “Repent Walpurgis.”
While the name was ominous, so were the inspirations for this instrumental as they spanned centuries and continents. The primary progression of the tune featuring Cm, Ab/Eb, Dm7b5, and G was directly inspired by the chorus of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons 1967 single “Beggin’.” The piano interlude came primarily from Bach’s “Prelude 1 in C Major” from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” This is prog rock at its finest.