A Salty Dog

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A Salty Dog
Procol Harum-A Salty Dog (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 1969
RecordedMarch 1969
GenreProgressive rock
LabelRegal Zonophone, A&M
ProducerMatthew Fisher
Procol Harum chronology
Shine On Brightly
A Salty Dog

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.


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 released 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]


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]


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".[3] Robert Christgau was more enthusiastic in The Village Voice, giving it an "A+",[4] although he later said the printed grade was "a mistake" and should have probably been a "B+".[5]

In a 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".[6]

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. Sarah Brightman covered the song too on her album Dive in the year 1993.

Track listing[edit]

Side A
1."A Salty Dog"Gary Brooker, Keith Reid4:41
2."The Milk of Human Kindness"Brooker, Reid3:47
3."Too Much Between Us"Brooker, Robin Trower, Reid3:45
4."The Devil Came from Kansas"Brooker, Reid4:38
5."Boredom"Matthew Fisher, Brooker, Reid4:34
Side B
1."Juicy John Pink"Robin Trower, Reid2:08
2."Wreck of the Hesperus"Fisher, Reid3:49
3."All This and More"Brooker, Reid3:52
4."Crucifiction Lane"Robin Trower, Reid5:03
5."Pilgrim's Progress"Fisher, Reid4:32


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


  1. ^ Allison, Charlie (2001). "Jim Gilchrist Feels the Tug of Strangely Unattainable Shores". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  2. ^ UK Chart Stats
  3. ^ Mendelson, John (31 May 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (34): 37. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 10, 1969). "Consumer Guide (1)". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Anon. (April 25, 2002). "Nitpicking Issues With the Lists". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Eder, Bruce (2011). "A Salty Dog – Procol Harum | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  7. ^ This was listed as an album main track on the re-release despite not having appeared on the original album
  8. ^ 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]