A Salty Dog – Procol Harum (1969)

“… A Salty Dog came highly recommended. The famed rock critic Robert Christgau, who served his seven years beneath the mast as our pegboy, gave it a rare A+, and even our finicky parrot, who liked nothing but techno, kept his mouth shut when it was playing. And why not? If the title cut isn’t the best sailor’s tune this side of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’ what is? True, A Salty Dog doesn’t have ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ on it, a fact that irked us because although we had the single, our 45 rpm adapter got blown overboard during a typhoon. … As for Procol Harum, they’ve gone down in history as a proto-prog band, a fact that horrifies me because I despise progressive rock the way Blackbeard despised whiny plank-walkers. No, to me they’re just a rock band that happened to borrow occasionally from the classics without sounding beholden to them, a trick they pulled off better than any other prog band in history. Gary Brooker handled the bulk of the lead vocals, although guitar savant Robin Trower and keyboardist Matthew Fisher also took their turns. The rhythm section was composed of Dave Knights (who like Fisher would leave shortly after the completion of the album) on bass and B.J. Wilson on percussion. Oh, and the band had its own Bernie Taupin in the form of Keith Reid, who wrote the band’s lyrics. The title track is sublime, a sailor’s dream come true; ‘All hands on deck’ sings Brooker to open, before talking business (‘Replace the cook/Let no one leave alive’) while the band plays an elegiac tune that never fails to bring a tear to my tar’s eye. Fisher plays some great piano, the band proves they know exactly how to use a string section to maximum effect, and the song’s crescendo is unforgettable. … ‘Too Much Between Us’ is a song about having ‘too much sea between us,’ and is a bit too sweet for my pirate’s ear (I lost the other one in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait), but nice anyway. ‘The Devil Came From Kansas’ should come as no surprise to anyone who’s actually been to Kansas, and boasts a big bad beat, two monster solos by Trower, and certainly has nothing to do with the sea, unless my knowledge of geography is even worse than I thought. …”
Graded on a Curve: Procol Harum, A Salty Dog
W – A Salty Dog
Discogs (Video)
amazon: A Salty Dog
YouTube: A Salty Dog (Live), The Devil Came From Kansas
YouTube: A Salty Dog 1 / 10

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