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Procol Harum - A Salty Dog CD (album) cover

A SALTY DOG

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.52 | 177 ratings

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jammun
Prog Reviewer
4 stars All hands on deck...

I'm a sucker for these types of lyrics, which are not only relevant to the song but imply a nod and a wink to the listener: please join us on this musical voyage.

Procol's third album, A Salty Dog, is perhaps their finest. It is a concept album of sorts, its songs generally including vaguely nautical imagery, with intermixed themes of loss, betrayal, and ennui, not surprising given what the band was going through at the time.

The pacing of the original LP is virtually perfect. We start off with the title track, with its orchestral foundation. The song is majestic, but not without whimsy (check out Reid's deliberate moon/June rhyme). This gives way to The Milk of Human Kindness, generally more up-tempo and with biting contributions by Trower. The relatively weak Too Much Between Us then sets up another of the better tracks, The Devil Came From Kansas, which rocks as hard as any pre-Home Procol song. The final song on what was Side One of the LP, Boredom, has a Caribbean feel to it, but the lyrics are surprisingly poor.

Juicy John Pink leads off what was Side Two. This strikes me as one of those songs that exist on early Procol albums simply to give Trower an opportunity to indulge in some blues. We are then presented with two more heavily orchestrated songs Wreck of the Hesperus and All This and More.

The album wraps up with Crucifiction Lane and Pilgrim's Progress. The former, sung I think by Trower, is pure, hard, blues-rock, with a classic Trower guitar solo, all tension and no release. The latter, sung by Fisher, musically recalls A Whiter Shade of Pale, with its descending bass line and baroque organ. It is the finest song on the album and a fitting closer, as well as being Fisher's greatest song.

So where does this album fit in Procol's legacy? There was a time I held it in very high esteem, up there with the very best. However, having listened to it now for forty years, I'm of the opinion that it lacks the fire-in-the-belly of the first album's best songs, and lacks the sense of exploration and musical adventure of Shine on Brightly. Additionally, there's a bit too much Fisher and too little Brooker. Still, it's a solid effort from this pioneering band and should not be missed.

jammun | 4/5 |

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