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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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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Also known as "Stoke Poges"!

After the early prog classic "In held 'twas in I" on "Shine on brightly", Procol Harum revert to a more orthodox structure for "A salty dog". There are no suites here, no long convoluted tracks, no overriding concept, just ten autonomous songs.

After a false start in Los Angeles recording their third album (the sessions for an album entitled "Stoke Poges" were scrapped and lost), the band returned to the Abbey Road studios in London. Matthew Fisher took on production duties for the first time here, and the song-writing was opened up for other band members to contribute. This makes for a rather uneven offering, ranging from the sublime excellence of the title track to the trite lyrics and melody of Matthew Fisher's cod-calypso "Boredom".

In between, we have the beauty of "Too much between us", a rather out of character piece which could have been recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. "Wreck of the Hesperus" and "All this and more" both have similarities with the title track, the former having some wonderfully bombastic orchestration. Such songs as these are the essence of Procol Harum, a fact which was to become even clearer on their "Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra" album, which featured "A salty dog" and "All this and more" sequentially.

Robin Trower takes on vocal duties on his "Crucifixion lane". With Gary Brooker being such a gifted and unique vocalist, this is a case of democracy triumphing over good sense. "Juicy John Punk" is a very average Hendrix like blues, and the aforementioned "Crucifixion Lane", while benefiting significantly from Trower's fine guitar work, could have sounded so much better with a decent vocal.

The closing "Pilgrim's progress" is a wonderful "Whiter shade of pale" like ballad, which features the classic Hammond sound of Matthew Fisher. Once again though, the democratic process meant that Brooker did not get to sing lead vocals on the track (or indeed on Fisher's "Wreck of the Hesperus").

In all a rather uneven album, with some of Procol Harum's strongest songs, but a few too many sub-par additions.

In retrospect, the three solo albums in one nature of "A salty dog" indicated that all was not well in the Procol Harum Camp, and Fisher would be gone before their next album was recorded.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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