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Procol Harum - A Salty Dog CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.58 | 241 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Three great songs, but pretty uneven

Two years after their beloved debut album, Procol Harum were looking for a wider audience with the stoic "A Salty Dog." Despite the fantastic cover art and the fact that the title track may be the best song they ever recorded, the album as a whole leaves plenty to be desired. There are three great tracks on Salty Dog while the other seven range from two star blues-rock throwaways to 3 star template rock songs. First the good stuff. The title track is an absolute masterpiece that ranks with Whiter Shade, Grand Hotel, and others as a seminal Procol Harum track. Gorgeous, timeless melody and melancholy fused with orchestral splendor, piano, and pomp. It starts the album on a high note that has only one direction to go from there. Another beauty is "Too Much Between Us" which features Brooker in almost Nick Drake mode, a vocal that is fragile and haunting, in a song that could easily have been written by Neil Young in "Pardon My Heart" mood. The third classic is "Wreck of the Hesperus" which features Matthew Fisher on vocal, a track which again captures so well a dated feel, emotions that come from some old black and white film. Together these three tracks lobby hard for a masterpiece but unfortunately the rest of the album gets in the way.

Most of the other seven tracks are average rock songs, sounding a bit like second rate The Band songs, less soulful and less grooving. There are two blues-rock tracks that really fail to impress. Trower is a fine player but the songs are so plain-Jane, I'm not sure how blues rock fans could get excited by this with Cream and the first Zeppelin around to play. I still think of Procol as sort of an English version of The Band. Both are better live, both have songs with a sort of rustic longing for the past, one is a bit more elegant while the other has a bit more groove. I'd recommend this album to any fan of either band, with the caveat that it is not as solid as many people seem to think. The 2009 cd reissue has four live bonus tracks from 1969 which make the investment considerably more worthwhile. My rating is based on the original album tracks only.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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