Procol Harum

the Pale 

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A Salty Dog ... long-player

A parody, and its parodies

Some music fans outside Europe may not be aware of the original tobacco advertisement that spawned Dickinson's famous parody on the cover of the A Salty Dog album: here it is, below left, and you can click on it for a bigger version if you want to print it off as a health warning of some sort. See also this page, and read Keith Reid's comments on the artwork

Note that the original contains several ships that are not reproduced in the Procol mutation, where the detailed ropes and so on have also been simplified. Procol's excellent 'best of' from 1995, however, reproduces that detail more faithfully, both on the front cover and on the CD itself: see below. It looks as though the graphic artist has gone back to the original advert for reference, although the ambience is considerably more Caribbean in the later illustration (and it lacks that outrageously phallic lighthouse).

Thanks, Larry

Above is another parody, clearly of the
Procol version, not of the Players original. Click here to
 see several other parodies of the Procol sleeve (or of the
original?), involving Croydon's Captain Sensible. 
Mirthlessly this parody commemorates 2001's
destruction of the Twin Towers. The central
figure is transmuted into Osama bin Laden, and the
'Hero' wording is omitted from the headpiece.


The Players' 'Hero' is a blue-eyed straight-backed archetype in his smart suit with his nicely-trimmed 'full set' of whiskers.

On the other hand Procol featured a swarthy, hirsute, dentally-challenged sailor, gurning hideously from the 1969 album.

Not all fans believe that this is a version of Keith Reid himself, executed by Dickinson, to whom he was married. To the right, though, you may see Keith writing 'That's me' as he signs the cover at Bloomsbury in 2005 after his first performance with the band in thirty years.

Above, a full-face image of the same sailor hero, as featured on Reid's Christmas card in the early 1970.

And of course the lifebelt motif with wording, but sans matelot, is often seen on the lapels (or berets) of fans at Procol shows: lamentably, supplies of this excellent little memorabilium have long-since sunk without trace.

Another parody, clearly of Japanese origin, but otherwise obscure in import.

Finally, a full-length version of the original advertisement, right, and a hand-painted
revision with Gary Brooker at its heart.

Ruthie Bosch (herself no mean designer of Procoloid sleeve-art, sends us (January 2015) this Burmese match-book cover from more than a century ago. Nothing to do with the Players' tobacco company, but unwittingly another ancestor for Procol Harum's famous album.

Peter Ashley writes (11 January 2011) in his Unmitigated England blog: Funny how the wheel of life turns. Or the CD on the record player of life. Putting the finishing touches to my cigarette book (blogs passim) I was reminded that Procol Harum made an album in 1969 called A Salty Dog. And that the album sleeve was a primitive pastiche of the original Player's Navy Cut cigarette packet. I'd never heard the album, even though A Whiter Shade of Pale transcends genres and time to still be one of the best pop songs to make the Hit Parade; and I do have an obscure album of theirs called Exotic Birds & Fruit which I bought just for the still life on the cover. So needing a pristine example of A Salty Dog to scan in for the book, I sent off for what I think is a 40th anniversary edition. It arrived yesterday, so I can now tell you that the cover was painted by Dickinson, who, surprisingly, is a lady and married (at least at the time) to the lyricist in the band Keith Reid. I popped it into the player in the car this morning, and have to tell you I had to stop the car in a field gateway and stare out over the wet fields of Leicestershire as the eponymous first track swept over me. I thought it simply brilliant. Which is a good job, after forty two years.

This vibrant and characterful image (the original is painted in acrylic and measures 18” x 24”) was sent to ‘Beyond the Pale’ by Robin Seeger Greene, who first saw Procol live when she was about 15 or 16, at The Felt Forum in New York (‘I think I saw God!’). In the early 70s her musician brother had introduced her to the band: ‘While my young friends were bopping to The Monkees, I was being fed songs like In Held ‘Twas I : quite a difference!'  She also saw Procol on 5 August 1995 at Pompano Amphitheatre in S. Florida, where she now lives. ‘It rained (they were covered) but I sat like a statue in awe. This group, to me, are right up there with The Beatles. Timeless. This particular album, A Salty Dog, has been a staple for all these years. I love so many of their releases but every single song on this masterpiece still moves me. I felt compelled to try and paint something I actually love (this is what you do when Boredom sets in!): I love Procol Harum!’ Thanks, Robin: Shine on Brightly!


A Salty Dog | See also this page, and this 007 page

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