Procol Harum

A Salty Dog/Home

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This is a reissue of Procol Harum's third and fourth albums released in 1969 and 1970. While there was outside and perhaps internal pressure to equal the success of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," this band was not deterred from creating wonderfully creative music that sometimes matched the grandeur of its 1967 smash but just didn't translate into a "hit." A Salty Dog is possibly their finest album as it combines Gary Brooker's majestic and haunting musical themes with Keith Reid's sound poetry and needed bursts from Robin Trower's electric guitar. The chilling title song is every bit the musical statement that "Whiter Shade" was, as was Matthew Fisher's "Wreck of the Hesperus," although Fisher's lead vocal on that song lacks the soulful authority of Brooker. A well-rounded album in every imaginable way (classical, folk, blues, and rock), A Salty Dog was followed by the less artistic Home. That album opened with Trower's unrelenting "Whisky Train," a blues-rock number that perhaps indicated where his heart was during the recording sessions. His guitar work just didn't seem to have the flair and accent as heard on A Salty Dog. The macabre "Dead Man's Dream" is classic Brooker-Reid as it conveys a distinct picture and mood, albeit an unpleasant one. The prevailing theme on Home is one of despair and bitterness, and it resonates to the point of preventing these songs from blossoming. The epic "Whaling Stories" has plenty of build-up but an inadequate denouement. Home is a decent album, but it pales in comparison with A Salty Dog. The seven pages of liner notes offer invaluable insight and historical perspective to these two albums.

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