procol harum

procol harum

PROCOL HARUM

BROKEN BARRICADES EXPANDED & REMASTERED

Esoteric Recordings

3CD box set

Available now

Next in line from the Procol Harum catalogue, the dare we say ‘classic’ album with a mass of live bonuses from the period.

Originally released in 1971 Broken Barricades was Procol’s fifth album yet significant as the last one to feature Robin Trower on guitar and ultimately served as a fitting tribute to his contribution with a wider than ever before palette of songs.

Of the re-issued sets so far down the lines, this one is a belter, the period live extras adding a wealth of material via a whopping 36 bonus tracks (32 apparently unreleased although the bootleggers and the deep fans will argue a case).

First up is the original eight-track album, which having been what many have been used to for years, now simply serves as the appetiser. Simple Sister sets the tone with a hard rock edge and Gary Brooker’s vocal as close as you can get to Steve Winwood without entering into the copycat territory. The Tower factor sees his guitar fizzing with particular electricity on Memorial Drive and while some may still struggle to get used to the drum break and dubbed applause on Power Failure, the synths on Luskus Delph and Broken Barricades are perhaps more typical and familiar Procol. Song For A Dreamer stands as perhaps Trower’s parting shot in its Hendrix tribute-ness and also in how far it is from stereotypical Procol Harum whilst Poor Mohammed’s slide shifts Procol towards Southern rock, particularly the case with Trower on vocals, and there’s more than a hint of a similar vibe in Aerosmith’s Uncle Salty that appeared some years later.

Having negotiated the familiar album sequence, we run straight into nine add-ons for our first bonus, mainly in the form of early versions and alternative mixes but you also get the chance to play karaoke with backing tracks for Poor Mohammed and Song For A Dreamer. There’s also a chance to hear Power Failure sans applause, but having got used to it (yet wondering why) it seems strange without! Be careful what you wish for.

A complete live concert for New York’s WPLJ FM from April 1971 showcases half the album along with a smattering of Procol picks from the catalogue. No Whiter Shade Of Pale although the stately chapel organ ‘sound’ is still there on Shine On Brightly, but A Salty Dog is in there which doesn’t (yet) seem overplayed, plus a healthy selection from 1970’s Home album. It even extends to ‘live’ applause on Power Failure. After the solemnity of A Salty Dog, Trower cuts loose on Whisky Train having already given his blues chops an airing.

The entire BBC Sounds Of The Seventies (and there’s an opportunity for digging in the archives for a comprehensive BBC collection) set from October 1971. Quite rightly, the four tracks highlight the new album and the faithful get the reward of a nice version of Quite Rightly So from the Shine On Brightly album although the pick of the extras for many will be the previously unreleased (unless you’ve already bagged a less official pre FM master…) Swedish Radio concert in Stockholm from the same month that pulls in a broad spectrum of tracks.

It includes In The Wee Small Hours Of Experience and a wandering and dramatic Repent Walpurgis not featured in the original broadcast. The overblown and extended ending of the latter a sign of the times and met with an unrestrained release of applause. Gary Brooker coming across more Alan Price than Winwood and the generally polished Procol sound showing a few rougher live edges and all the better for it. Some impressive guitar from Dave Ball, Trower’s replacement and keen to earn his stripes, lets loose on Still There’ll Be More and on an outstanding outro to Quite Rightly So. The climax comes aptly in the twelve minutes packed into the In Held ‘Twas In I ‘medley’ where they play the final three parts, In The Autumn Of My Madness/Look Into Your Soul/Grand Finale. Classic and great to see some care is taken in the Procol Harum cupboards getting a thorough sweep and enhancing the catalogue in a sweet package.

Watch the band performing the title track of the album live in 1971 here:

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All words by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He can be found on Facebook and is currently revamping his website…

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