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Procol Harum - A Salty Dog CD (album) cover


Procol Harum


Crossover Prog

3.58 | 235 ratings

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3 stars This was never a particularly interesting album in my opinion, neither when it was released nor later on when there was a bit of revival for the band due to the reemergence of "Conquistador" on their album with the London Symphony. That song, both on the symphony album and the original version, combined with “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, pretty much sums up this band’s career as far as I’m concerned. There were a few other mildly bright moments, like the title track of this album for example, but not many.

These guys suffered the fate of having a monstrously successful song right off their first album in “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, and frankly never were able to achieve that level of perfection again, particularly not on this album.

The cover is clever and pretty well-known, but I wonder how many people besides the hard-core Harum faithful have ever really listened to this record. This band was always a confusing mix of blues guitar and classical keyboards, combined with Gary Brooker’s corner-tavern vocals that alternate from white blues to Randy Newman. Decent enough urban blue-collar music I suppose, but this is not the album that helped to build progressive music. That was done with the debut, and each subsequent studio work from the band after 1967 seemed to struggle to recreate that magic.

High points include of course the title track – in those days as often today the most well- constructed tune was served up as the opener in an attempt to put the best face on the record. In this case that’s done without much reliance on Trower’s guitars though, this being mostly a keyboards and vocals composition. The other standout tracks are “Wreck of the Hesperus” with that persistent piano drone and some early heavy-guitar rock; the calypso (or maybe just upbeat raga) of “Boredom”; and the often-covered “Devil Came from Kansas” that sounds an awful lot like a Roy Wood-era ELO (or maybe even the Move) song.

Otherwise this is a recognizable piece of music history that probably has special meaning to guys in their late fifties for whom this brings back memories; otherwise, I think it is a decent record at best, certainly note essential. Three stars.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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