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Procol Harum - Broken Barricades CD (album) cover

BROKEN BARRICADES

Procol Harum

 

Crossover Prog

3.32 | 99 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album continues in the same rocking vein of its predecessor, at times even enhancing it due to the further increment of the guitar presence: Trower had, by then, not only become an important composer for the band, but also a major influence for his partners, and therefore, for the band's musical direction. The solid opener 'Simple Sister' is in some ways an equivalent to 'Whiskey Train' (the opener for "Home"), a straight rocky number equipped to take the listener's attention by storm. Everything works quite well here: the guitar riffs and leads; the precise, punchy drumming; the exciting piano washes after the guitar lead; and finally, the orchestral crescendo that starts during the interlude's last part and goes on right to the end with all strings and brasses joining in the rock vibe. As a notable contrast, the evocative title track shows the articulate symphonic trend that PH masters with total ease and crafty inventiveness. The Baroque inspiration for its beautiful basic piano arpeggios are appropriately complemented by the synth colours and counterpointed by Wilson's inventive drumming - the latter factor works impressively after the last sung verses, all the way down to the fade-out. Even softer is 'Luskus Delph', which is the most PH quintessential song of the album: a nice captivating melody, an elegant use of countermelodies, classy orchestration on strings and woodwind. The rocky side of the band is more prominent here, and its showcases tend to be quite energetic: that's particularly true of Trower's two most up-tempo compositions, 'Memorial Drive' and 'Poor Mohammed' - the later featuring a pedal steel guitar. Brooker's up-tempo numbers have a more lyrical approach, as it is shown in 'Power Failure': this song mixes hard rock and R'n'B in the frame that encapsulates the catchy motif, and its percussive- ridden interlude adds extra intensity to the main groove. On the other hand, 'Playmate of the Mouth' (yes, the lyric is actually as obscene as the title suggests) uses a more relaxing tempo, with a soul mood provided by the piano's recurring cadence and the use of a kinky brass section. 'Song for a Dreamer' is Trower's elegy for his guitar hero Jimi Hendrix (he had just died back then), and it certainly is the most peculiar song of the album. Its languid tempo conveys the air of somber mystery you may expect from any tribute to a fallen hero. Trower displays lots of sonic tricks on his guitar after he's sung the few lyrics, but he doesn't use those tricks as a medium for technical virtuosity: on the contrary, the main idea is to create a psychedelic ambience as if portraying the hidden corners of the heart in an oppressive psychedelic context. I feel it as something like 'Voodo Chile'-meets-"Ummagumma" live stuff, with an added touch of sadness. While Trower is undeniably the protagonist on this one, it would also be fair to state a special mention for Wilson's labour (one more time), which provides an Eastern-like exotic fire with his syncopated ritualistic drumming. I enjoy this album a bit less than "Home", since I find that the musical inspiration is not as strong and the interplaying is a bit less solid - but, all things considered, "Broken Barricades" serves as an adequate Trower testament of his PH days.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |

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