Procol Harum • A Salty Dog
Salvo reissue No 3, reviewed by Richard Solly
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Another day another Procol release. What a year this is!
Living in Australia in the late 60s and early 70s I'd missed out on a lot of
Procol. Up until 1971 I only recall ever hearing AWSoP. In 1971/2 there
was a surge of interest in Procol. They had just switched labels with Broken
Barricades being advertised and talk of up-and-coming live concerts with
orchestras. Cube records retaliated with their 'Toofa' series. Procol's albums 1
and 2, and also 3 and 4, were reissued as double albums. I had four albums to
sift through from scratch ... and have never recovered.
lot of column inches appeared in Sounds,
NME and Melody Maker
(note* I still have the cuttings! But as they were sellotaped into
scrapbooks and would be difficult to read if scanned). The critics didn't know
what to make of the A Salty Dog LP. Ranging from 'masterpiece' , 'finest
hour' to 'patchy'. I listened avidly. The prominence of three
singers/songwriters gave fuel to the claim of inconsistency. But this is unfair.
The first thing I noticed about the 40th anniversary version was that the
annoying sticker which had threatened to be stuck virtually in the middle of the
cover wasn't there.
The recording itself is truly memorable. The original of A Salty Dog (the
song) is more atmospheric than any subsequent version. You can feel the spray on
your face. The digital remasters here are top quality. Taken as a whole a
wonderful sea voyage. The sea theme keeps popping up, especially in the stormy
turmoil of the Wagnerian Wreck of the Hesperus. This album is more
consistent than some critics give credit for. Such brilliant songs as The
Milk of Human Kindness, All This and More and Pilgrims Progress
lovingly restored. Long Gone Geek is there too, tidied up but regrettably
mono: always loved this song.
The buried treasure on this re-issue is the collection of sea shanties performed
live in 1969. Breathtaking. Robin Trower's blistering work left me wishing I'd
seen them live during that period. Trower is the only major Procol I haven't
seen live. The quality of the recordings is astounding. Very loud, very
distinct. The blues weaves itself in and out of Procol songs ...especially here.
They have fun on Goin Down Sloooowww. Even Picasso had his blues period.
Let's hope there are some more live outings in the vaults. These ones are
We finish our voyage (mind the step madam) with the raw track of Milk of
Human Kindness. Another one to add to the 'Gary-oke' collection. Crystal
clear and loud. I'm glad PH aren't resorting to inferior 'alternate takes',
'false starts' etc.
The liner notes mention the 'scrapping' of some songs during initial recording.
There is bootleg version of Stoke Poges in circulartion: shame a cleaner
studio version hasn't surfaced yet.
This is a truly majestic album, diverse but certainly not inconsistent and an
excellent remaster. You'll still be getting the salt and sand out of your system
for many months ... but will you want to?!
Avast behind Captain Claptrap: I see Home approaching!