Esoteric Recordings has just continued its series of expanded Procol Harum reissues with A Salty Dog and Home, the band's third and fourth albums as originally released in 1969 and 1970, respectively, on the Regal Zonophone label. As with Esoteric's reissues of Procol Harum and Shine On Brightly, both titles are available in single- and multiple-disc configurations with bonus tracks culled from past reissues plus previously unreleased material.
After initial sessions held in Los Angeles which yielded album track "Pilgrims Progress," B-side "Long Gone Geek" and the abandoned instrumental "Stoke Poges," Procol Harum returned to the U.K. to record the album eventually titled A Salty Dog. Organist Matthew Fisher was given the reins to produce at Abbey Road, with Ken Scott engineering. Though the album took in influences from blues to R&B, its progressive heart beat most vividly on vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Gary Brooker's opening title track, the group's first to employ an orchestral backing. Brooker scored both "A Salty Dog" and "All This and More," while Fisher provided the arrangement for "Wreck of the Hesperus." The songs were all band efforts, too, with songwriting contributions from Brooker and his usual wordsmith Keith Reid as well as Fisher and lead guitarist Robin Trower. Fisher sang lead on "Boredom," "Wreck," and "Pilgrims," while even Trower took the microphone for "Crucifiction Lane." Ken Scott oversaw the expanded sonic palette for the album with its diverse instrumentation including bells and marimba.
Esoteric's deluxe 2-CD reissue adds twelve bonus tracks including a quartet of live tracks from April 1969 and the first take of "The Milk of Human Kindness" backing track, all of which have been released previously. Five BBC performances from Top Gear and Symonds on Sunday make their commercial debuts. The 20-page booklet included in the deluxe edition has copious liner notes from Henry Scott-Irvine and numerous illustrations; the digipak also boasts a foldout poster with the cover artwork and lyrics. Ben Wiseman has remastered.
Released in June 1969, A Salty Dog (a No. 32 album in its U.S. issue) turned out to be the final Procol Harum album for both Matthew Fisher and bassist Dave Knights. Fisher, working with Ken Scott at Trident Studios, began production on the album that became Home before departing the band. Remaining members Brooker, Trower and drummer B.J. Wilson brought in bassist/organist Chris Copping from their old band The Paramounts, and reconvened to begin recording anew at Abbey Road. With Copping on board, the four-piece Procol hoped to bring a stronger R&B influence into the band. To produce, friend of the group (and Hollies producer) Ron Richards suggested engineer-turned-producer Chris Thomas who at the time was working with George Martin. Re-recording the tracks first laid down with Fisher and then turning to new material, the group recorded at Abbey Road in spring 1970. Brooker and Reid composed the lion's share of the songs, including the progressive opus "Whaling Stories," with Trower and Reid sharing a couple of co-writing credits on the nine-song LP. When Home was released in June 1970, it reached No. 34 in the United States and No. 49 in the U.K. - surprisingly, Procol's highest-charting U.K. album to that point.
To the original album, Esoteric's deluxe reissue adds a second disc with eleven bonus cuts including demos, backing tracks and alternative mixes by Chris Thomas as well as George Martin himself. Two previously unreleased BBC Radio One live tracks from The David Symonds Show round out the second disc. Home also features a 20-page color booklet with notes by Henry Scott-Irvine and a foldout poster in its digipak; Ben Wiseman has again remastered all tracks.
Both A Salty Dog and Home are available now in the U.K. from Esoteric Recordings at the links below! Amazon U.S. will have these titles in stock on August 14!
Procol Harum, A Salty Dog: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric, 2015) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Single-CD Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD 1 (originally released as Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1009, 1969)
- A SALTY DOG
- THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS
- TOO MUCH BETWEEN US
- THE DEVIL CAME FROM KANSAS
- JUICY JOHN PINK
- WRECK OF THE HESPERUS
- ALL THIS AND MORE
- CRUCIFICTION LANE
- PILGRIMS PROGRESS
- SKIP SOFTLY MY MOONBEAMS (BBC Radio One - Top Gear session of October 6, 1968) (previously unreleased)
- WISH ME WELL (BBC Radio One - Top Gear session of October 6, 1968) (previously unreleased)
- LONG GONE GEEK (BBC Radio One - Top Gear session of October 6, 1968) (previously unreleased)
- GOIN' DOWN SLOW (Live in the USA - April 1969)
- JUICY JOHN PINK (Live in the USA - April 1969)
- CRUCIFICTION LANE (Live in the USA - April 1969)
- SKIP SOFTLY MY MOONBEAMS / ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA (Live in the USA - April 1969)
- THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS (BBC Radio One - Symonds on Sunday, May 20, 1969) (previously unreleased)
- JUICY JOHN PINK (previously unreleased)
- A SALTY DOG (Mono Single Mix) (Regal Zonophone RZ 3019-A, 1969)
- LONG GONE GEEK (Regal Zonophone RZ 3019-B, 1969)
- THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS (Take 1, Raw Backing Track)
All tracks from Disc 1 plus Disc 2, Track 11 on single-disc edition.
Procol Harum, Home: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric, 2015) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Single-CD Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD 1 (originally released as Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1014, 1970)
- WHISKY TRAIN
- THE DEAD MAN'S DREAM
- STILL THERE'LL BE MORE
- NOTHING THAT I DIDN'T KNOW
- ABOUT TO DIE
- BARNYARD STORY
- PIGGY PIG PIG
- WHALING STORIES
- YOUR OWN CHOICE
- YOUR OWN CHOICE (DEMO 1969) (previously unreleased; recorded Autumn 1969 at Trident Studios)
- BARNYARD STORY (TAKE 4)
- THE DEAD MAN'S DREAM (TAKE 7)
- STILL THERE'LL BE MORE (TAKE 3 - BACKING TRACK)
- WHALING STORIES (INITIAL BACKING TRACK)
- ABOUT TO DIE (GEORGE MARTIN MIX) (previously unreleased; mixed March 12, 1970 at Abbey Road)
- YOUR OWN CHOICE (EXTENDED REMIX)
- PIGGY PIG PIG (CHRIS THOMAS REMIX) (previously unreleased; mixed March 22, 1970 at Abbey Road)
- WHISKY TRAIN (US RADIO SINGLE EDIT) (A&M single 1218, 1970)
- YOUR OWN CHOICE (BBC Radio One session of May 12, 1970) (previously unreleased)
- ABOUT TO DIE (BBC Radio One session of May 12, 1970) (previously unreleased)
All tracks from Disc 1, plus Disc 2, Track 9 on single-disc edition.
Don C says
Looking forward to these, hope they give the same treatment to Grand Hotel and Exotic Birds and Fruit! Thanks for the rundown, Joe!!
Phil Cohen says
Not likely, Don. Esoteric's series only covers the group's first four albums; the ones owned by "Bucks Music",AKA "Cube Records" & "Fly Records". The albums from "Broken Barricades" onwards are owned by Gary Brooker & Keith Reid via their "Strongman Productions", and are still under license to the "Salvo" label.
Major Tom says
Has there been any news about if these will be reissued to vinyl at all?
John Ryan Horse says
I rather liked the Westside remasters from 15 years ago. Could someone compare the more recent reissues sound- and content-wise? (However do not like Repertoire's mastering so much of the later issues.)
Jim Hagen says
Received my copy of the 2 CD Esoteric Version yesterday which had been reissued on 8/15/2015. The packaging is way beyond my expectations in terms of presentation and goodies (copious booklet/Poster) although the materials used might be a little fragile. I'm concerned about the music because I detected sibilance and harshness and I didn't get through more then a few songs upon my first listens. I ran the title track through Cubase and the waveforms look decent and there is no clipping on that track but I am concerned that they may have pressed too hard to get detail and thus sacrificed warmth or that they used a "master" with significant generational loss or a combination of the two. I am trying to find other reviews that include information about the audio quality and not just the selections for the bonus tracks and the history (which is appreciated but my first concern is audio quality).
Jim Hagen says
I should also mention in regards to my comments about possible sibilance and harshness that I suffer from hypersensitive hearing and constant migraine and other headache types to the point where I get headaches from certain recordings - which is part of why I try to only listen to CD quality or above CD quality. I am hoping to find a version of this that is more listenable for me since it is one of my favorite albums.
Jim Hagen says
One last thing... Listening to it again... Think it is not a bad a problem but it is less about sibilance and more that it is a hot mix... I would personally prefer softer edges on the details. Would be interested what other listeners think.
Jim Hagen says
Not a hot mix but a hot master...