|Procol are expansive: Nick Logan in New
Musical Express, 5 July 1969
The most exciting facet of this tremendous album is not so much that it contains the Procols' best recorded works to date, but that their potential is still nowhere near being fully spent.
If this is an example of what their experiments can lead them to, long may they continue to push out past the accepted frontiers of pop.
It would be hard to pick a stand-out but the title-track, also their current single, must rank as their most potently commercial offering since Whiter Shade of Pale. The poetic quality of Keith Reid's lyrics delivered by Gary Brooker against music that rises and crashes like the waves adds up to a positively stunning track.
Brooker takes five other writing credits; Milk of Human Kindness is a personal favourite, mainly for its gorgeous razzy guitar. Too much Between Us, which he co-wrote with Robin Trower, is wispy and dreamy ... (this is where our scan ends) ... with shades of Incredible String Band in the harmonies. The Devil Came from Kansas has a distinct country feel with Barrie Wilson's powerful drumming behind a piano running rife. All This and More is nearer the old Procols.
Boredom, by Brooker and Matthew Fisher, has the latter featured strongly on marimba with a pretty calypso lilt making it one of the most appealing songs.
Fisher on his own has two entries, stand out being Wreck of the Hesperus with a complex arrangement for piano and strings that spins like whirlpools of water and has a charm and prettiness little found in today's pop.
The album also marks the emergence of Trower as a writing force. His two songs include Juicy John Pink, a strident rock blues with shades of John Lee Hooker. Other titles: Crucifiction Lane, Pilgrim's Progress
Disc, July 1969
Ever since A Whiter Shade of Pale (probably one of the best singles ever made) Procol Harum have been steadily gaining devotees all around the world. With A Salty Dog they return on probably the most satisfying album they've made yet. It's above all heavy – the word could have been invented with Procol in mind – and still with those rolling, soaring Gary Brooker / Keith Reid songs, with those strange lyrics which taken cold are meaningless but taken in the context of the songs still convey a whole world of atmosphere and feeling. The title track is perfection, and the others don't fall far short.
A beautifully produced LP indeed – the Procol Harum sound – and they do seem to have a distinct sound – is subtle, as their recent chart failures have shown, but their musical quality is steadily improving. This LP is consistently good with well arranged and tasteful backings. Vocals are well up to standard and Keith Reid's lyrics are always interesting, though occasionally predictable. Maybe not a big hit, but an enjoyable LP.
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