A Salty Dog

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A Salty Dog
Studio album by Procol Harum
Released June 1969
Recorded March 1969
Genre Progressive rock
Length 40:18
Label Regal Zonophone, A&M
Producer Matthew Fisher
Procol Harum chronology
Shine On Brightly
(1968)
A Salty Dog
(1969)
Home
(1970)

A Salty Dog is the third studio album by English progressive rock band Procol Harum, released in 1969 by record labels Regal Zonophone and A&M.

Content[edit]

A Salty Dog has an ostensibly nautical theme, as indicated by its cover (a pastiche of the famous Player's Navy Cut cigarette pack), interspersed with straight rock, blues and pop items, A Salty Dog showed a slight change of direction from its predecessors, being thematically less obscure. The title track itself was the first Procol track to use an orchestra, as would be referred to in the live album performance some three years later.

The album was the first record produced by Matthew Fisher, who quit the band soon after its release. This was also the last Procol Harum album to feature bass guitarist Dave Knights.

Background and recording[edit]

A Salty Dog was recorded in March 1969. The musical tensions between the group and Robin Trower were beginning to show in this album, and although his guitar sound remains integral to most of the tracks, "Crucifiction Lane" (featuring a rare Trower vocal), in retrospect, shows that Trower was already moving in a different direction from the rest of the band. Still, this album is much more musically varied than the two previous albums, with three Fisher vocals and one by Trower.

Reportedly, when Gary Brooker first played "A Salty Dog" at the piano for B.J. Wilson, a sunbeam illumined Wilson's face and he told Brooker he thought it was the most beautiful song he had ever heard.[1]

Release[edit]

A Salty Dog was released in June 1969 by record labels Regal Zonophone and A&M. The title track, backed with "Long Gone Geek", reached number 44 in the UK Singles Chart in 1969 and the album itself number 27 in the Albums Chart.[2]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau A+[4]
Rolling Stone mixed[5]

John Mendelson, writing for Rolling Stone, called it "a confusing album. At its best it represents the group's greatest success to date with the brand of rock for which the group is known; at its worst it is both surprisingly mediocre and trivial."[5] Robert Christgau, on the other hand, gave it a rare 'A+' grade.[4]

In his retrospective review, Bruce Eder of AllMusic wrote, "This album, the group's third, was where they showed just how far their talents extended across the musical landscape, from blues to R&B to classical rock. In contrast to their hastily recorded debut, or its successor, done to stretch their performance and composition range", calling the title track "one of the finest songs ever to come from Procol Harum and one of the best pieces of progressive rock ever heard".[3]

Cover versions[edit]

The title track was covered by Transatlantic and was featured on the two-disc Special Edition of The Whirlwind. It is sung by drummer Mike Portnoy. Styx covered the song on their cover album Big Bang Theory (2005) with Lawrence Gowan on lead vocals.

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "A Salty Dog"   Gary Brooker, Keith Reid 4:41
2. "The Milk of Human Kindness"   Brooker, Reid 3:47
3. "Too Much Between Us"   Brooker, Robin Trower, Reid 3:45
4. "The Devil Came from Kansas"   Brooker, Reid 4:38
5. "Boredom"   Matthew Fisher, Brooker, Reid 4:34
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Juicy John Pink"   Trower, Reid 2:08
2. "Wreck of the Hesperus"   Fisher, Reid 3:49
3. "All This and More"   Brooker, Reid 3:52
4. "Crucifiction Lane"   Trower, Reid 5:03
5. "Pilgrim's Progress"   Fisher, Reid 4:32

Personnel[edit]

  • Gary Brooker – lead vocals on tracks 1–4, 6 and 8, piano, celeste, three-stringed guitar, bells, harmonica, recorder, wood, orchestral arrangements on tracks 1 and 8
  • Robin Trower – lead guitar, lead vocals on track 9, acoustic guitar, sleigh tambourine
  • Dave Knights – bass guitar
  • B.J. Wilson – drums, conga drums, tabla
  • Matthew Fisher – organ, lead vocals on tracks 5, 7 and 10, marimba, acoustic guitar, piano, recorder, rhythm guitar, orchestral arrangements on track 7, production
  • Kellogs – bosun's whistle, refreshments
  • Keith Reid – lyrics
Technical
  • Ken Scott – engineering on tracks 1–5 and 8–10
  • Ian Stuart – engineering on track 6
  • Henry Lewy – engineering on track 7

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allison, Charlie (2001). "Jim Gilchrist Feels the Tug of Strangely Unattainable Shores". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  2. ^ UK Chart Stats
  3. ^ a b Eder, Bruce (2011). "A Salty Dog – Procol Harum | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Procol". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Mendelson, John (31 May 1969). "[A Salty Dog review]". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  6. ^ This was listed as an album main track on the re-release despite not having appeared on the original album
  7. ^ A story of a soldier who was hanged for shooting a senior officer; provenance of this story is unknown Procol Harum site

External links[edit]