Friday, October 21, 2005

Strange Events At Sea...

Procol Harum - A Salty Dog

I bought a Procol Harum compilation a few weeks ago when we were away in Shropshire. Without realising it I’d bought a cd of music that totally complemented that lovely county. The place felt like a beautiful hymn. It has the stateliness of A Whiter Shade of Pale. Yes, I like Shropshire.

The band could never escape their first single, which provided them with a template that eventually drove their guitarist Robin Trower away because he grew sick of that organ and that slow tempo. Mind you, none of us can escape it. The song has its own gravitational pull.

Sure, there are the blues inspired things that everyone in the late 60’s were up to, some of which work well, (“Long Gone Geek”), others not so successful. But every era has it’s thing, and in that one it was Electric Blues. A couple of decades on, it was dance remixes.

But the song that haunts me is the title track of their 1969 album. The fact that it was a single blows my mind. Nowadays, such a sound would be put in the employ of a lyric that over dramatises (or lies) about some relationship, or the mutterings of a sensitive soul recently out of university and making the most of it before the deal vanishes and they have to retrain as a social worker. I shouldn’t blame Radiohead for this, but I do. I digress.

This is not what we have come to expect from pop music. We get an unsettling lyric from which we can infer that the Captain is quite mad and the crew are not far behind, all of them following a path from demented melancholy to unhinged euphoria and back again. Verse/Chorus/Verse.

If you want a comparison, go to Scott Walker and “A Farmer In The City” from the album “Tilt”. And that was definitely not a pop album.

So - what’s number one this week? We deserve better.

And if you happen to be passing through Shropshire, call in at Church Stretton and then take the road up to Long Mynd. If it’s a nice day, park up and skip the light fandango, turning cartwheels on the floor.

Visit - Church Stretton
Buy - Classic Tracks and Rarities - An Anthology - Metrdcd502


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