Friday, November 18, 2011

Procol Harum: A Salty Dog

Recorded live in concert in Edmonton, Alberta on November 18, 1971, our Friday Flipside of Procol Harum’s “A Salty Dog” was the “B” side of their hit single “Conquistador.” Released in 1972 from the LP “Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra,” the studio version of “A Salty Dog” was the title cut of Procol Harum’s third album that was released three years earlier in 1969. As Gary Brooker recounts during his introduction of the song, it was the first song they had recorded with an orchestra.

In this live recording, the band was accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Of the six band members that are credited on this recording, only three had been with the group from the beginning. They included lead vocalist/pianist Gary Brooker, drummer B.J. Wilson, and lyricist Keith Reid. Organist Chris Copping joined the band when Matthew Fisher left the band. He was a member of the prequel to Procol Harum – The Paramounts, which contained Procol Members Brooker, Wilson, Copping, and former guitarist Robin Trower.

Largely influential on the album’s success, the “A” side “Conquistador” charted at #16 on the American charts. “Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra” was Procol Harum’s most successful album and was the only one to be certified gold by the RIAA. It also peaked at #5 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart. Live or Memorex, “A Salty Dog” is one my favorite recordings by the band.


'All hands on deck, we've run afloat!' I heard the captain cry
'Explore the ship, replace the cook: let no one leave alive!'
Across the straits, around the Horn: how far can sailors fly?
A twisted path, our tortured course, and no one left alive

We sailed for parts unknown to man, where ships come home to die
No lofty peak, nor fortress bold, could match our captain's eye
Upon the seventh seasick day we made our port of call
A sand so white, and sea so blue, no mortal place at all

We fired the gun, and burnt the mast, and rowed from ship to shore
The captain cried, we sailors wept: our tears were tears of joy
Now many moons and many Junes have passed since we made land
A salty dog, this seaman's log: your witness my own hand

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