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Procol Harum - Broken Barricades CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.34 | 156 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Procol Harum's fifth commitment to the studio is an excellent 'sweaty rock' album, with only Gary Brooker's soulful vocals reminding us that this was the same band who shone on brightly with symphonic hits in the late sixties. Compared to the Hammond-drenched proto- prog of Procol's first few albums, Broken Barricades has a much rawer, high-energy rock sound to it, with Robin Trower shamelessly splattering his blues guitar all over the place. With Brooker's omnipresent piano and the poetic, Sinfield-esque lyrics of Keith Reid, the album has enough warmth and substance to stop it from sounding like another Zeppelin-clone.

The gutsy rockers 'Simple Sister' and 'Power Failure' open each side and are probably the best songs on the album. They contain a good balance of the band's talents, with the latter incorporating a fantastic drum solo from powerhouse B J Wilson. Along with 'Playmate of the Mouth', the other highlight, these songs represent Procol's unique sound at this point in their career; honky-tonk piano, continuous guitar soloing, and the occasional slice of strings or brass, topped off with those chillingly good vocals from Brooker.

The Trower-penned 'Memorial Drive' sounds like a piece of 70's Rolling Stones, and is decent enough but unmemorable. 'Luskus Delph' is a symphonic piece that should have been on an earlier album because it feels out of place here. Likewise, the psychedelic 'Song for a Dreamer' does not fit this album's style and should have been saved for Robin Trower's solo albums (where it is less of a problem to imitate Jimi Hendrix for 40 minutes). The title-track is equally un-rocky but it is a great song. Perhaps it would have worked better at the end of the album as it has that kind of "Last Waltz" feel about it.... a fitting coda to this short-lived incarnation of the band. 'Poor Mohammed' is the actual closer; a weak finish with little going on musically. You may enjoy it if you like to overdose on Trower's blues guitar noodling but by this point in the album I'm sick of him!

Certainly it is the guitar and drums that stand out on this album, but also the four or five excellent compositions and the nice, clean production. Unfortunately, I do get a sense of Brooker and co running out of ideas in places, making one chord sequence last as long as they can because their song-writing reservoir has dried up. There is maybe 25 minutes of great rock music here, the rest forgettable and derivative (however, the beautiful 'Luskus Delph' would find a better home on Procol Harum's live album with an orchestra). In any case, Broken Barricades deserves a bit more attention than it has received over the years.

thehallway | 3/5 |


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