A Salty Dog - Polydor 1969
Robin Trower debuts as leadsinger on his own "Crucifiction Lane" and he wrote "Juicy John Pink" - both songs show the roots of Procol Harum as a tight r&b band. Trower also co-wrote the acoustic "Too Much Between Us" with Brooker - beautifully sung by Brooker, by the way.
Matthew Fisher produced the album, and arranged the orchestra for three of the songs - most note-worthy the title track, which is one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded. Compared to Brooker's Fisher's voice may appear somewhat thin, but he sings his two songs "Wreck of the Hesperus" and "Pilgrim's Progress" beautifully, and both songs fit in nicely on the album. "Pilgrim's Progress" bears big resemblance to the classic "A Whiter Shade of Pale". The charming "Boredom" with its Carribean rhythms is a Brooker/Fisher collaboration, adding to the great variety in styles which characterize the album.
Apart from the unique "A Salty Dog", the album features another Brooker classic "All This and More" - classic Procol Harum sound. Inspiration from the Band's recently released "Music From Big Pink", shines through on "The Milk of Human Kindness". The Band was a big inspiration for Procol Harum. "The Devil Came From Kansas" is one of the few tracks I often consider skipping over - too heavy and noisy; seems somewhat out of place on the album. Much better is the B-side "Long Gone Geek"; another heavy thing, which sounds inspired by The Small Faces or Humble Pie.
Among the bonus-track there are 4 rare live-tracks from a 1969 April tour in the States. Great to hear the original band live - again their r&b roots shine through.
With this album you could say that the band scored a natural hat trick; having their debut and "Shine on Brightly" in mind.