Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Procol Harum - Broken Barricades CD (album) cover


Procol Harum

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Fifth album from the Southend On Sea group, but clearly after an unfocused ASD, a much better but incredibly depressive home, Procol is confirming the harder rock direction Home had given them. Nothing wrong with this except that this album does not really sound like a Procol album, and the group is again losing focus. Actually, I personally read this album as a dead-end street, with the only exit a line-up change as Trower is clearly now ready to fly on his own (this will take a few years after one false start) and Dave Knights (only ever adequate on bass but not stand-out) getting the axe.

From the strong starter Simple Sister (with Trower shining his brilliant Mountain-like riffs and lines) and the impressive ultimate crescendo (Strings and horns section) that can be considered one more excellent Procol bit. Trower also shines in his Memorial drive with heavy riffs, but the track is too bluesy and clearly the different facets of the schizophrenic group are losing the listener. The Brooker tracks are also not the most groundbreaking: the heavily-orchestrated and syrupy Lukus (this track receives a second life in the Edmonton album as a bonus), or the title track, or even yet Power Failure featuring an interesting (live) percussions passage demonstrating (if need be) that BJ Wilson is a much over-looked drummer in prog. One of the highlight of the album is the dreamy Trower-penned Song For A Dreamer, indicating his future solo career: We can see ourselves on Bridges Of Sighs and Trower is really influenced by Hendrix's works. A lovely track with Wilson's percussions again taking a good spotlight, not very Procol-esque track, but one of the most psychedelic moments of theirs. Playmate Of The Mouth is again reminding of the lead-off track Sister, with heavy horns arrangements. The album is closing on another hard rocker Poor Mohamed were Trower is shinning like a sun.

Although an atypical album for Procol, this album still has enough moments to be heard by all Procol investigators. But Clearly with three tracks and his guitar piercing the screen in every track, there was changes ahead. Robin is now rerady to become a Hood and start career. Clearly the two stars on this album are Wilson's percussions and Trower's sizzling lines. Not essential an album, but worthy.

Report this review (#30773)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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.
Report this review (#30774)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an excellent album, with incredible tracks. The best track of this album is Simple Sister, witha great arrangement on guitar tracks and piano, an excellent piano solo, not so fast playing but very good and agradable to hear. I give 5 stars to this album, is an excellent work...
Report this review (#42892)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In a way, this was an album that Procol Harum simply had to make. With guitarist Robin Trower champing at the bit, they let the keyboards take a back seat and made their most guitar-dominated of all. Despite a couple of notable songs, the end result is a disjointed, often dull affair.

The folly of the post Salty Dog move of replacing organist Matthew Fisher and bass player Dave Knights with Chris Copping who played both instruments is revealed by the lack of variation on this album. Not that Copping is weak on either instrument ... in fact he proved to be quite a competent organist in later albums like Exotic Birds And Fruit and Procol's Ninth and he was arguably the most talented of Procol Harum's three bassists. But, even though it was surely was possible to double up on both instruments in the studio setting, the organ is almost non-existent on this album. And that's a real shame.

Of course, it's not all bad. The opening track Simple Sister is a killer riffer of a tune. With potent brass and ominous lyrics and one of Trower's best performances, this is an all time Procol classic. There's also the totally un-Procol like cut Song For A Dreamer, on which Trower gets to indulge all his Jimi Hendrix fantasies, with some ethereal spoken stoner lyrics, and phased guitar leads. As a big fan of Procol's drummer B.J. Wilson it was also a real treat for me to hear the drum solo during Power Failure.

Unfortunately a string of unspectacular melancholy ruminations (the title track and Luskus Delph) and mediocre blues rockers (Memorial Drive, Playmate Of The Mouth and Poor Muhammad) really weigh this album down. While Trower's playing stands out, and every one else is solid, the songwriting cupboard seemed to have been quite bare for this one.

I'd have to say that this one only very narrowly escapes the unwanted tag of being Procol Harum's worst studio album during the band's orginal run. It's a shade better than 1977's Something Magic, but weaker than all the others. ... 53% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#58286)
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This wonderful album is one of my personal favorites. "Broken Barricades" does not appear at most lists of Procol Harum's best works, which IMHO does not makes justice to this record. "Broken Barricades" opens with "Simple Sister", one of the most powerful album openers I've ever heard, with a short (but absolutely essential) orchestral passage. The title track comes next; a beautiful composition with sad lyrics (and Gary Brooker sings sad songs as no one; he puts so much emotion at every word - sometimes his voice almost make me cry). A powerful rocker, "Memorial Drive", shows Robin Trower's composition skills at its best, but there's something missing: why he does not play a guitar solo? Another highlight is "Power Failure", which features the late B. J. Wilson on a percussion solo. About "Luskus Delph", "Playmate of the Mouth" and "Poor Mohammed" (sung by Robin Trower), all I can say is: although these are good songs, they're not up to the standards of the aforementioned - still they're better than much of later days Procol Harum. The major flaw on this album is the controversial "Song for a Dreamer", on which Robin Trower pays tribute to his idol Jimi Hendrix. He desperately tries to mime Hendrix' style and, although he succeeds in this risky venture, it sounds as a ripoff when it should be a homage. Repertoire Records added three bonus tracks to this release, but there is nothing new, just single edits of "Broken..." and "Power", and a mono version of "Simple...". This is not an essential buy to prog aficcionados, but everybody interested on Procol Harum should have this album.
Report this review (#87067)
Posted Sunday, August 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Definitely a Robin Trower album(musically speaking). Features one of Gary Brooker's most interesting gothic ballads in Luskus Delph and some of the strangest lyrics by Keith Reid. Generally speaking, this is a hard blues rock album. Power Failure is some of the most entertaining drumming you'll ever hear on record, and that includes drumming from the jazz greats. B.J. Wilson is nothing short of incredible. Quite intricate on the cowbell. Heck, if you're into lyrics...just buy it for Ketih Reid.
Report this review (#160064)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars While the dark "Home" was a continuation of their classic style, this one is more guitar-oriented. More of a rocking (and bluesy) affair.

Still, the opener which is one of their hardest number is an excellent song. Trower delivering a great guitar part; he is also superbly backed up by the whole band. "Simple Sister" is amazingly powerful and hypnotic. The kind of track that pushes you to listen to it again as soon as it finishes. THE highlight.

The title track is another classic type of Procol song. A sad mood and a melancholic tone. It could have been featured on "Home". I quote: "Whose husband was the first to fall? Who died the worst death of them all"?

The band has not forgotten their bluesy influenced music either, but frankly "Memorial Drive", "Playmate Of The Mouth" or "Poor Mohammed" don't hold too much of a good song.

This album is rather a deception for me. "Home" showed that "Procol Harum" had pretty well digested Fisher's departure, but they couldn't reach the same quality on this work. The psychedelic "Song For A Dreamer" is original but no more. Another manner for Trower to show his talent.

If you would except the great opener, there is nothing outstanding here. Just an average album. Two stars.

Report this review (#171631)
Posted Monday, May 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Broken Barricades" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK rock act Procol Harum. The album was released through A&M Records in April 1971. "Broken Barricades" was recorded at AIR studios in London and produced by Chris Thomas. This would be guitarist Robin Trower´s last album with Procol Harum before pursuing a solo career.

The original album featured eight tracks while the 2002 CD Re-issue features three bonus tracks (Single edits and mono versions of some of the original songs). All eight tracks are high quality compositions brilliantly showcasing Procol Harum´s by now trademark style. Gary Brooker´s omnipresent piano playing, strong vocals and memorable vocal melodies, Robin Trower´s bluesy guitar delivery, Barrie James Wilson´s strong and busy drumming and Chris Copping´s excellent bass and organ/synth playing (classical inspired). The lineup has not changed since the release of "Home (1970)" but the tracks generally stand out more on "Broken Barricades" compared to the material on "Home (1970)". Strong and memorable pop/rock compositions with just enough innovative ideas to occasionally be tagged semi-progressive.

"Broken Barricades" is a very well written and diverse album. Tracks like the powerful "Simple Sister", the beautiful "Broken Barricades" (which features piano/keyboard work reminiscent of Genesis), the equally beautiful and string laden "Luskus Delph", The powerful "Power Failure" (featureing an almost fusion-like middle drum part), and the psychadelic Song For A Dreamer", represent some of the highlights of the album and at the same time display the diversity of the material. The whole thing is packed in a warm and pleasant sounding production. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#235076)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink

A lot of tosh has been written about this album

Here are a few simple comments

1. 1st PH album with 16 track recording- giving much more space for drums for a start.

2. First use of Moog which Chris Thomas programmed and Gary played

3. The seeds of a parting of the ways

Broken Barricades and Luskus Delph used Moog and hardly any guitar

Playmate of the Mouth features more brass than guitar This was the Gary side of the album.

Poor Mohammed and Song for a Dreamer are pure Trower tracks- he even sings on them. It is a signpost to his solo career. Memorial Drive is also very much Robin's although Gary sings (excellently as always) and plays elec piano overdubbing an acoustic piano solo.

Power Failure joins the two factions together although it is really a vehicle for BJ to solo on drums. The song came from a gig at The Fillmoe East when the power actually did fail (possibly twice) cant remember if BJ did a drum solo at the time.

Simple Sister is the highlight of the album when the two factions really come together. It is Gary's song but Robin plays the riff. There is an historic moment in the solo when Robin's Les Paul solo is eclipsed by his Strat solo- possibly one of his earlier Strat tracks- you can hear the difference between the two guitars- the rich bottom end of the Les Paul gives way to the cutting top range of the Strat.

Then Thomas performs his magic slowing down the tape and creating the effect of a synthesised piano in the middle instrumental section which gradually build with the chords getting thicker and brass and strings joining in until the final climactic verse with the superb string lines at the finish.

It's a mixed bag but quite a defining moment. The material is perhaps stronger (certainly more morbid) on Home but the actual sound of BB is superior.

Report this review (#235616)
Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The momentum of their early smash hit was by now quite worn off, and PROCOL HARUM seems to be playing by the numbers here. Trower may be affecting the group sound to a greater degree but it is less with his distinctive panache and more with disinterested licks. While the subject matter may be less depressing than on "Home", the result is not heartwarming.

"Simple Sister" is saved by a fine extended instrumental section and buildup, but is otherwise a rote heavy tune of its time, as are "Memorial Drive", "Playmate of the Mouth", and "Poor Mohammed", which are bluesy by Procol standards but sub-par. The title cut is pretty if far less developed than similar tunes in the group's heyday. With Trower rising to prominence, Brooker and Copping don't shine as much on keys as one would expect from the group; in fact the only song that was something of a stretch for a member was "Song For A Dreamer", in which the guitarist tries on the type of psychedelic style that reflects an aspect of his soon to be initiated solo career, unfortunately with only mild efficacy.

"Power Failure" is the highlight, as It performs natural selection on "Simple Sister" and adds a nimble solo by B.J Wilson. Still, this isn't nearly enough to clear a murky release and break the 2 star barrier.

Report this review (#248716)
Posted Saturday, November 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#457205)
Posted Sunday, June 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The cover picture on Procol Harum's fifth record "Broken Barricades" indicades that this is a rock band or a hard rock band. So don't be surprised if you have hard to see this as a prog record. I had. Over a white fog we see the faces of the four members: Gary Brooker(vocals, piano), Chris Copping(bass, organ, synthesizers), Robin Trower(guitars) and Barrie James Wilson(drums). The record is quite short but its play time it's full of competent and well pleyed music.

I see this record as an improvement from the last one "Home". The songs are more distinct and straight and the instrumentalists do a god job. Almost nothing though could be considered prog. These eight tracks are good working hard rock songs. Broken barricades doesn't contains especially interesting songs but there are no bad stuff such as on "Home".

"Simpe sister" (7/10), the starter is one of the best. It's a heavy rock song with a great guitar solo and powerful vocals and an orchestra makes the song really mighty in the end. "Power failure" is very rocky and its biggest effort is the progressive drum solo(7/10). "Luskus Delph" has a little of the old Procol Harum feeling known from their first record, a little bit classical(7/10) and "Song for a dreamer" is the album's only experimental song. On this track the band plays with an amazing soundscape(7/10).

Even the rock song "Playmate of the mouth" is worth seven stars but the closer "Poor Mohammed" isn't as interesting(6/10). The title track "Broken Barricades" has nice piano and vocals and it is emotional but doesn't really affect me(6/10). My total statement is that this record is an improvement and the musicianship is better than before. The compositions though isn't interesting enough to get more than three stars.

Report this review (#1089775)
Posted Saturday, December 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I prefer this album much more than their previous album (titled "Home") because the songs are more melodic and Progressive. They even used some orchestral arrangements in some songs ("Simple Sister", "Luskus Delph") and some synthesizer playing ("Broken Barricades"). The best songs in this album in my opinion are: "Simple Sister" (the best of all, with some Heavy Progresive Rock arrangements), "Broken Barricades" (with a very good melody played on the keyboards and very good arrangements in general) and "Luskus Delph", with a very good Classical Music arrangement (and this song also was included in a live recording as a bonus track in one of the re-issues of their "Live" album from 1972, played in a very similar way). "Power Failure" included a very brief good drums and percussion solo by B.J. Wilson which also included a somewhat humorous "fictitious ovation" from an obvious "imaginary in concert audience" at the end of it. "Song for a Dreamer" is a song which was composed by Robin Trower and Keith Reid in memory of Jimi Hendrix, and it is a song with some Indian Music influences (maybe they could have included a sitar and a tabla in this song!). Despite that Trower composed the music of three of the eight songs in this album, and that the band sounded better and more united in music styles in this album, Trower left the band to become a soloist. The band carried on without him replacing him with Dave Ball, and they also added a new bassist (Alan Cartwright) to leave Chris Copping free to concentrate only in playing the organ.
Report this review (#1165529)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Although this has strong production and sounds great with the 2009 remastered Salvo version, the songs are boring to me. Most of the songs repeat the same melody over and over. There's not much change within the songs. Some of the songs sound like they are trying like other bands (Bad Company on Memorial Drive, and Steppenwolf on Playmate of the Mouth). The only high points are the lush Luskus Delph and the rockier Simple Sister.

Of all the Procol albums, this is musically one of the most tedious and bland. Even though it sonically sounds great, the music isn't very inspired or adventurous.

Thankfully, Robin Trower left the group after this one. He had been holding back the group, trying to get the band to go in a bland blues-rock direction. Freed of this, the group soared on the next two albums with orchestra (Live at Edmonton and Grand Hotel).

Report this review (#1558214)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Broken Barricades is the fifth studio album released by Pocol Harum and is one of rock music's greatest "should have beens." As far from the twin keyboard sound of piano and Bach influenced organ that propelled the group to stardom four years earlier, Broken Barricades relies primarily on Gary Brooker's piano, BJ Wilson's drums, Robin Trower's blues based guitar riffs and Chris Copping's Jack Bruce inspired bass playing. Copping plays organ on only two songs and on one it's just on the song's coda (Simple Sister.)

This is most definitely Trower's defining statement in Procol Harum, with the band in a full-on blues rock mode that fits in stylistically with bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and even Black Sabbath at that juncture in time. The music performed on Broken Barricades is on par with some of the best from the afore mentioned, excluding a Stairway To Heaven copy. Perhaps Procol never toured with Spirit like Zeppelin did. But they did tour with the recently departed Jimi Hendrix, whose tone and styled was immediately taken up by Trower after his premature death.

Simple Sister and Memorial Drive are two of the Harum's hardest hitting and riff heavy songs and the title track is an elegant exercise in the magic of overlaying arpeggios (with a bit of Moog synthesizer snuck in.) The manic high speed Power Failure is even broken up by a deft drum and percussion solo by Wilson. Again, the music is balls out hard rock that really works. What doesn't work is Keith Reid's return to obtuse and vague mumbo jumbo lyrics, which truly sinks this mighty ship, as does Brooker's reliance on his voice as an instrument and painfully dispenses with diction while singing one lyric right into the next.

It's understandable that Procol could never write lyrics fit for songs like Whole Lotta Love or Iron Man, but the dark esoteric and death themed existential lyrics, that included rotting corpses alive in coffins, that fueled Procol's last album from 1970, titled Home, would have worked just as well or better with this type of harder material. A great opportunity lost, as even in a 2002 interview, Brooker couldn't tell if the title track was about a failed love affair or a tragic war story. If he didn't know, how was the public supposed to react to this crunching vagueness? Fortunately, Reid's great lyric writing would become more literal and accessible on later Porcol albums like Grand Hotel.

Trower is again in a class of his own with a homage to Hendrix titled Song To A Dreamer and the great bluesy album closer Poor Mohammad. But Trower was bursting at the seems and would go on to great solo success a few months after Broken Barricades was released.

Four stars for the incredible music and playing, particularly by Trower and Wilson, who seemed to be dueling for honors, with two stars for Reid's duff lyrics. That makes an average of three stars. So, three stars renders this album as merely average. What a pity.

Report this review (#1589570)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2016 | Review Permalink

PROCOL HARUM Broken Barricades ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of PROCOL HARUM Broken Barricades

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives