17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2009
I was nine years old in 1969, and wouldn't buy my first album until the age of 11 two years later so never heard this album at the time.
Thanks to infrequent but judicious radio play from the likes of John Peel, Alan Freeman etc. the title track from this album did, over the years infiltrate my sub-conscious to the point where my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the album. I was well into my twenties. The title track is an absolute masterpiece and all else on the album is neccessarily in its shadow. But look and listen closely there are other sparkling gems in that shade.
It seemed timeless and ageless when I first bought it in the eighties and hearing it again remastered and repackaged with interesting extra tracks it still does. All hands on deck! Immerse yourself in its beauty.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2011
This is a great album, made better by the bonus tracks. The production (and orchestration) by Matthew Fisher is flawless. The title track is a haunting and atmospheric song of the sea. The keyboards (both Brooker's piano & Fisher's Hammond) are sublime, Keith Reid's lyrics are simultaneously witty, scholary and raunchy. Robin Trower shows why he was regarded by many as a natural heir to Jimi, and Gary Brooker's vocals make you wonder how the hell he was overlooked while the likes of Rod Stewart were held in such critical awe for so long. The album cover (a brilliant spoof of the old Player's Navy Cut cigarette pack) is one of the most iconic of the sixties. But thats not what this review is about. No, this review is about Barrie Wilson's drumming. The late Barrie (BJ) Wilson was in my opinion the best of the five best drummers of the rock era - you don't want to know the other four (oh okay then, its John Bonham, John Densmore, Topper Headon and Dave Mattacks). Good drummers keep the beat almsost unobtrusively - they drive the rhythm, and that's it, but when BJ plays you find yourself listening to the drums like they were a lead instrument, with no detriment to the rest of the track. His drumming quite literally punctuates Procol's melodic and lyrical masterpieces. Listen for example to "The Milk Of Human Kindness" (and the bonus "raw" track) - I defy you not to anticipate every across the beat hit he makes. Apparently he used to sit side on to the drum-kit, leading one reviewer of a Procol gig to comment that BJ looked like an "octopus in the bath" while drumming - what a great image!
Hail to the drummer; Barrie Wilson - powerhouse behind the kit.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
With a name loosely based around a Burmese Blue Cat – England’s Procol Harum and their droning melodramatic music has always been something of an acquired taste - beloved and derided in equal measure. But there's no doubting that there's properly great tunes on their 3rd album for EMI's Regal Zonophone Records (A&M in the USA). "A Salty Dog" saw the three songwriters in the band all step up with the moody goodies - singer Gary Brooker, keyboard player Matthew Fisher and ace-axeman Robin Trower.
The last time we were here was May 2009 when Salvo of the UK released their "40th Anniversary Edition" CD remaster of "A Salty Dog" on SALVOCD 020 (Barcode 698458812025 will identify that reissue). That remastered single CD reissue came housed in a gatefold hard card sleeve and boasted 6 bonus tracks chosen by Gary Brooker – a non-album B-side "Long Gone Geek", 4 Previously Unreleased live tracks from an American Tour in April 1969 with the LP Line-Up of the band in fine form and finally one "Raw Track, Take 1" of "The Milk Of Human Kindness". This time around we get a 2CD "Deluxe Edition" issued Friday, 31 July 2015 in the UK (August 2015 in the USA) on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22503 (Barcode 5013929460348 identifies the correct issue) which gives us a 2nd CD with 12-tracks – 5 of which are Previously Unreleased. All six of the Salvo bonus tracks return on Disc 2 - along with the 7" Single Mono Mix of "A Salty Dog" and the 5 previously unreleased cuts already mentioned. Here are the ship-shape details for the 2015 Esoteric Recordings 2CD Version...
Disc 1 (40:38 minutes):
1. A Salty Dog
2. The Milk Of Human Kindness
3. Too Much Between Us
4. The Devil Came From Kansas
6. Juicy John Pink [Side 2]
7. Wreck Of The Hesperus
8. All This And More
9. Crucifiction Lane
10. Pilgrim's Progress
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3nd album "A Salty Dog" - released June 1969 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1009 (Stereo) and in the USA on A&M Records SP-4179. It peaked on the UK charts at 27 and 32 in America.
Disc 2 (48:22 minutes):
1. Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)
2. Wish Me Well
3. Long Gone Geek
Tracks 1 to 3 are a "Top Gear" BBC Radio One Session recorded 6 Oct 1968 and are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
4. Goin' Down Slow
5. Juicy John Pink
6. Crucifiction Lane
7. Skip Softly My Moonbeams/Also Sprach Zarathustra
Tracks 4 to 7 recorded live in the USA with the LP line-up in April 1969 and first appeared on the 2009 Salvo CD reissue (previously unreleased at that time)
8. The Milk Of Human Kindness – recorded 20 May 1969 for the "Symonds On Sunday" BBC Radio One Program – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
9. Juicy John Pink – recorded 27 May 1969 for John Peel's "Top Gear" BBC Radio One Show – PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
10. A Salty Dog (Mono Single Mix)
11. Long Gone Geek (Non-Album B-side)
Tracks 10 and 11 are a UK 7" single released May 1969 on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019
12. The Milk Of Human Kindness (Take 1, Raw Backing Track) – recorded at Abbey Road Studios on 31 January 1969. First appeared on the 2009 Salvo CD reissue (previously unreleased at that time).
PROCOL HARUM was:
GARY BROOKER - Lead Vocals, Piano, Celeste Three Stringed Guitar, Harmonica Recorder and Woods
MATTHEW FISHER - Organ, Vocals, Marimba, Acoustic Guitar, Piano Recorder and Rhythm Guitar
ROBIN TROWER - Lead Guitar, Vocal, Acoustic Guitar and Sleigh Tambourine
DAVID KNIGHTS - Bass Guitar
BARRIE WILSON - Drums, Conga Drums and Tabla
KEITH REID - Lyrics on all 10 tracks
Along with Lyricist Keith Reid - Gary Brooker provided "A Salty Dog", "The Milk Of Human Kindness", "The Devil Came From Kansas" and "All This And More" - while Robin Trower penned "Too Much Between Us" and "Juicy John Pink" with Matthew Fisher writing the remaining three - "Boredom" (a co-write with Brooker), "Wreck Of The Hesperus" and the album finisher "Pilgrim's Progress".
It’s housed in a foldout soft card digipak – much the same as the Universal Deluxe Edition sets but without a sticker bandana. They’re nice ‘but’ they also dreadfully flimsy and vulnerable to damage. Having just reviewed the excellent 3CD of “Shine On Brightly” which comes in a gorgeous shiny hard card Box (Clamshell) – it’s disappointing to get the other 2CD sets in these crappy digipaks (“Procol Harum” and “Home” are the same). Mine arrived with its spine already creased and crushed and once out of the shrinkwrap – fans will find it difficult to keep these things from getting all bent out of shape – or torn – or worse. I emphasise that its hardly Esoteric’s fault because this kind of packaging has become the norm now for 2CD DE Versions – I just wish they were ‘all’ the hard card Clamshell I got with the gorgeous “Shine On Brightly” because a row of those suckers would have been an event and genuinely looked tasty on my bulging CD shelves (at least something’s bulging in this house).
The Salvo issue had a lovely 20-page booklet – so does Esoteric’s – but we also get a very cool large fold-out poster in the 2nd flap which gives the album artwork on one side with the lyrics to all songs spread out across both sides making them easy to read and enjoy (Reid’s lyrics deserve a pride of place). Rare Euro and Japanese Pictures Sleeves of the "A Salty Dog" single adorn each inner flap with quality black and white publicity photos of the band featuring on the undersides. Beneath the see-through CD trays are the A and B-side of the British 45 on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019. The 20-page booklet is a sophisticated affair - liner notes by HENRY SCOTT-IRVINE that go into each track - there's EMI’s trade advert declaring the arrival of 'a classic album', lots of black and whites of the boys in the studio, a six-pack of superb pictures of the 7" single for "A Salty Dog" from the USA and Europe. There are recent recollections on certain songs by band members Robin Trower and Matthew Fisher along with the original LP Engineer Ken Scott. It's all very tastefully done actually (a bit of care taken)...
I’ve contacted Esoteric Recordings directly about the remasters because there were some tape-crawl/speed issues on the preceding Salvo versions. I’m assured that BEN WISEMAN was given access to the first generation master tapes for his 24-bit Digital Remasters (done at Audio Archiving in the UK) and any transfer issues of old have been resolved this time around. This is not just idle talk on their part – I have the Salvo version (which runs to 67:52 minutes) and you can hear an improvement on "Too Much Between Us" and "Wreck Of The Hesperus" in the rhythm sections – the Gulls and Strings opening to "A Salty Dog" – beautiful Stereo separation and Brooker’s voice clear as a bell. I would say there is also some noticeable hiss that hasn’t been dampened out of the mix - the drums packing wallop and Trower’s guitar real power ("The Devil Came Out Of Kansas" is huge). Beautifully produced by Matthew Fisher and Ken Scott in the first place – this 2015 remaster lets it rip - and even when Trower's guitar gets a bit wild in places (and grungy for that matter) - the stereo imaging isn't too harsh - still reflecting the original Production values.
It opens with the Classical-meets-Rock fusion of "A Salty Dog" and immediately the arrangements and melody sound epic - a single you feel should have done better. I've always felt though that the albums two masterpieces come from Trower and Fisher. Trower gives us the unexpectedly lovely acoustic vibes of "Too Much Between Us" - I can't help thinking it should have been single number two off the album with Fisher's equally pretty "Pilgrim's Progress" on the flip (Fisher does the vocal rather than Brooker). A&M Records put out "The Devil Came from Kansas" b/w "Boredom" in the USA on a 45 (A&M 1111) in July of 1969 - but it failed to chart. The British 45 of "A Salty Dog" b/w "Lone Gone Geek" on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019 managed a respectable placing of 44 in the UK - especially given how awkward the track was to pigeonhole in a Pop context. The sleigh bells of "Boredom" make the tune sound like Quintessence or Dr. Strangely Strange or some such hippy happiness. Side 2's grungy guitar vs. harmonica opener "Juicy John Pink" puts an end to that pronto - sounding like its recorded in a garage to get that gritty sound. The best Audio on the disc goes to "All This And More" where the piano, guitar and Brooker's vocals all sound with new clarity – again suddenly huge in the speakers...
On top of the six bonus tracks that first appeared on the Salvo CD in 2009 - Disc 2 offers fans the 7” single Mono Mix of "A Salty Dog" and five Previously Unreleased BBC Radio 1 'live-in-the-studio' recordings from October 1968 and April/May 1969. "...First number from Procol Harum..." the announcer tells us in his very BBC dulcet tones – the audio is good rather great in my opinion – with the organ almost lost in the mix. There is a lot of hiss on "Wish Me Well" but what it lacks in Audiophile sparkle it more than makes up for in balls - capturing Robin Trower sounding like Paul Kossoff of Free on a good day – what a great funky Rock groove. Next up is the B-side "Long Gone Geek" given a cool live airing – in fact you wonder why it didn't make the album. Louder and wilder is the April 1969 USA stuff (tracks 4 to 7) that Brooker approved for the Salvo reissue – and it’s easy to hear why. Trower and the boys are on fire in the Bluesy "Goin' Down Slow" while the Rock riffage of "Juicy John Pink" makes them sound more like Ten Years After than what we associate with Procol Harum. The "Symonds On Sunday" recording of "The Milk Of Human Kindness" is superb and shows the band back in the album groove. The Bonus Track B-side "Long Gone Geek" is a fabulous addition to any CD - the Procol Harum going all Small Faces with Reid nicking Bob Dylan lyrics.
There are four x 2015 titles in Esoteric's PROCOL HARUM 'Deluxe Edition' CD campaign so far and at this rate – all will be mandatory purchases for lovers of the band. "A Salty Dog: Deluxe Edition" is a superlative reissue and crucially improves on what went before. Well done to all involved...
2015 PROCOL HARUM CD Reissues/Remasters by Esoteric Recordings:
1. Procol Harum – January 1968 UK Debut Album - 2CD Deluxe Edition UK released 17 July 2015 on Esoteric ECLEC 22497 (Barcode 5013929459748)
2. Shine On Brightly – December 1968 2nd Studio Album – 3CD Deluxe Edition UK released 29 June 2015 on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 32500 (Barcode 5013929460041)
3. A Salty Dog – June 1969 3rd Studio Album – 2CD Deluxe Edition UK released 31 July 2015 on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22503 (Barcode 501392946348)
4. Home – June 1970 4th Studio Album – 2CD Deluxe Edition released 31 July 2015 on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22505 (Barcode 5013929460546)
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2009
With the band's first two releases 'in the bag', Salvo let fly this top notch repackaging of PH's much-awaited next move, and don't disappoint. 1969's 'A Salty Dog' (****) is possibly Procul Harum's finest hour: a trove of memorably lush melodies replete with towering orchestration interspersed with a dizzying array of hard rock, charming od-ditties, ball-bustingly dirty blues, even a spot of folk. Genre-hopping generally doesn't work across an album: there's too little time to assert sufficient credibility in any one field and the whole affair too often slips apologetically away. Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher as writers (Fisher also produces the album) are exceptions, coupling astutely commercial yet original composition to exciting and breezily confident performances. This has been reissued before, of course, but never with the definitiveness of Salvo's packages, which brim with new interviews, track annotations and rare pictures that assure them future collectability. Bonus tracks x six include hardrocking studio take 'Long Gone Geek' plus US-recorded live material that reinstates rightly high regard for the band on the performance circuit. But it's the grand sweep of 'A Salty Dog's' titular opener and the equally powerful 'Wreck Of The Hesperus' that set the band apart. All hands on deck, indeed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2009
40 years later, I still would place this album in my top ten of all time. Such a rich and varied album. Every song so distinct, yet it fits and flows gorgeously, and rocks, too: dirty, bluesy and funny.
Since so many have gone on and on about the fantastic opening title track, let's consider the second and the third. The Milk of Human Kindness begins with each instrument introduced solo -- piano, organ, guitar, until the star of the song, BJ Wilson's genius stop-&-start drumming, takes over and rides over and under Trower's psych-tone & textured guitar and lets Brooker's pounded-note piano surface occasionally to great effect. Great, great number.
Then Too Much Between Us switches the feeling so tenderly, with a vocal that's hard to believe is the same Gary B as the two songs before it. And that's the same guitarist? It is absolute gossamer. What is the instrument chiming like bells -- piano, vibes? Who cares? A third great number in a row.
And each to follow changes tone, style, thought so challengingly, rewardingly, originally and intelligently: the Caribbean bounce of Boredom, the gritty Juicy John Pink, the majestic Wreck of the Hesperus, the astonishing Trower vocal on Crucifiction Lane, the lovely closing of the circle on Pilgrim's Progress, Matthew Fisher's last hurrah in PH, as vocalist and organist, before handing the outro to Brooker's piano, Wilson's drumming, the flight of the vocals, the chiming of the bell and your own handclaps.
Since the following albums never really came close to this kind of sustained majesty again, much of the credit must go to organist Matthew Fisher who produced it, and then departed, as well as Brooker, whose unique vocals have always the marquee sound of Procol Harum, but who never sounded better than this, and Keith Reid's lyrics, bringing, as always, his completely unique approach to rock thought, but never as universal as on this album.
With Fisher's departure, the beginning of the long, slow, but slight, end commences. There were still years of grandeur to follow, but this was their peak. This album's ten tracks come together as a beautifully concise dose of greatness. You can and should find out for yourself. If you're at all interested in the possibilities of rock fulfilled, you'd be foolish not to.
The added tracks and terrific sound make this a worthwhile purchase for those who already know and love the work (especially the lyric-less version of Milk of Human Kindness), but the original album has never sounded less than revelatory to me these past decades. Now it just sounds better than ever.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2009
I remember listening endlessly to this LP as a teenager. It had just come out and I was living in a scruffy bed-sit. I always thought it was unbelievably good. I recently purchased it on Amazon with tremendous trepidation. Time isn't always kind and some things from the sixties haven't aged well. Procol Harum certainly don't fall into that category. This sounds even better now than it did at the time, no doubt modern sound equipment plays a part but a tiny part. The real quality is in the song writing, musicianship, vocal virtuosity and imagination. A lot of modern day groups should listen to this and if it doesn't make them give up it might just inspire them to greater things. No doubt PH wouldn't win X Factor but who will remember any of the winners of that show in 40 months time never mind 40 years. Although they didn't have the amount of success some other sixties bands did, they deserve much more recognition than they get. Buy this album now. You won't regret it.
PS. Usual brilliant service from Amazon.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"A Salty Dog" original release date May 1969.
This is music for headphones and a certain state of mind.
And if you think that is pretentious, just listen to the album, then decide.
A Salty Dog.
The Wreck of the Hesperus.
If on liking this album I would recommend their eponymous first album and "Procol Harum Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra", which in my opinion includes the best live track ever, "Conquistador".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2010
I recommend anyone with an interest in fine music to explore this album. The title track is one of the best pieces of popular music ever recorded and the bonus live tracks reveal a "very together" band really cooking.
For a band generally remembered for 2 or 3 songs at most I have always thought it a shame that they never really received the accolades they deserved but having seen the recent concert in Denmark and the live DVD at Union Chapel I think more people appreciate the music of Procol Harum than I realised. Check out these other albums to hear the variety of performances Procol Harum were able to deliverHome (40th Anniversary Series)Grand Hotel (40th Anniversary Series)Exotic Birds & Fruit (40th Anniversary Series)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2014
Procol Harum's 3rd studio album is a heady mix of progressive rock, hard rock and blues; the ever-reliable writing team of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid provide many classic moments here - the gorgeous 'Salty Dog' kicks things off majestically with the superb 'The Milk of Human Kindness' and superior ballad 'All This And More' also standing out in my opinion. Matthew Fisher gets more opportunities to display his writing talents particularly on 'Wreck Of The Hesperus' ~ a track that showcases Robin Trower's excellent guitar work; for me, this should definitely have been included on the 'Secrets Of The Hive' compilation album. Elsewhere, Fisher's lovely 'churchy' organ sounds bring back memories of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', especially on the closing track 'Pilgrim's Progress'. 'Crucifiction Lane' allows Trower to shine again in broody style and 'Too Much Between Us' is a lovely slower song with sweet harmonies. Overall, this is a classic LP which fans of eclectic rock music should find fascinating to listen to.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2009
Brooker and Co had tried for album success but it was evading them because the listening public wanted the follow up to their debut single to be....well, exactly the same as their debut single. And they wanted their albums to be just the same. Which they weren't so people quickly lost interest. Dishing out music that seemed like hastily recorded B-sides didn't go down well with art-music fans that wanted More Of The Same.
Rule of Three - the third album is always the best (check it out for yourself with any band you like). A Salty Dog is far more than a collection of songs, it's a themed concept and nothing is allowed onto the album that doesn't add its own little bit. Nothing here was ever going to cut it as a hit single, the Radio One Playlist Policy saw to that. But an album is a very different animal to a single and for an album to work as an album, and not just a collection of potential hit singles, it needs consistency, substance, pathos, and most importantly of all a beginning, a middle and an end. This album has everything. Each track contributes without detracting from the others.
This is a remarkable remaster, bringing out details you never thought were there. They've resisted the temptation to turn it into a remix/remaster circus aimed at today's drum and bass amplified hungry audience and kept it as true to the original as possible. Everything is just that little bit clearer. Now you can appreciate Keith Reid's whimsical lyrics flung at you by Brooker's cracking vocal line in crystal clarity. Open a few windows before you play as the title track might cause fragile objects to shatter.
I've always thought of this album as something special to myself, as no one else has ever heard of it. But I expect with this magical rebirth all that will change.....