[Quick author’s note: I AM NOT DEAD. I have, however, recently evolved into a new era of my quarter-life stage. Now that I have access to a computer again and a new place of dwelling (at least temperarily) I am ready to become a part of society once more by contributing to this magnificent site.]

Why is she pairing a prog rock album from an all Brit band with a Michigan IPA, you ask?

Who the hell knows, or cares. All I know is the mix is a perfect one – trust me.

Perhaps it is because I have been avoiding my reality so much as of late, but escaping into worlds my soul longs to encompass is where I have been finding my interests lying. For instance, I have had Bell’s Two Hearted Ale in mind to pair an album with for three months now, first with Sleater-Kinney’s One Beat followed by Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. Yet now that I am finally composing this pairing, neither of those felt appropriate.

Or it could be that I discovered a new beach in Virginia that I fell in love with, Cape Charles, and my ocean-drenched mind has yet to leave me. Whatever the reason I chose Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog to pair with a crisp, classic American Imperial Pale Ale just feels damn right. So let’s just go with the flow of things, shall we?

[Album cover is a representation of the popular Player’s Navy Cut cigarette pack]

Released in June of 1969 at the height of tensions between Procol Harum’s lead guitarist Robin Trower and fellow band members, A Salty Dog gave Procol Harum a famed, respected name in rock, notably becoming founders of prog rock. After the album’s release, producer and member Matthew Fisher quit the band as did bassist David Knights. Robin Trower also later went on to record his own music due to his changing guitar styling, evident in “Crucifiction Lane”.

(Should be noted too that ALL lyrics from Procol Harum are written by Keith Reid. I mean every song in their discography. Way to go, Keith, you are my hero.)

Procol Harum A Salt Dog Review

NEXT YEAR Procol Harum’s Salty Dog WILL BE CELEBRATING ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY, OMG.

Because of the nautical theme in Salty Dog and it being August and hot and all, I knew a refreshing and light beer needed to marry this record. The only real similarity of themes revolve bodies of water. The album tells of a long, weathered sea voyage whereas Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan.

(Photo
courtesy of Bell’s Brewery)

Beer facts:

7.00% ABV. Brewed with 100% Centennial hops. Enough numbers to make you happy? Cool.

DIVING IN, FOLKS. LET’S GO.

Side A:

Gazing into my snifter glass at the summer honey colored IPA, I place the needle upon the black vinyl and turn my speakers up to annoy-the-suburban-neighbors level of loud. I am the youngest on my street, folks.

Sounds of sea gulls and sea waves crashing guide the helm of opening self-titled track “A Salty Dog” before the song builds into a song so beautiful it could make even the hardiest seamen weep salty tears. Fun fact: It is said when B.J. Wilson first heard the track played by Gary Brooker on piano, a sunbeam fell upon Wilson’s face and he told Brooker it was the most beautiful song he had ever heard.

” A sand so white, and sea so blue, no mortal place at all…” Yes, take me there Two Hearted Ale, please.

Robin Trower’s guitar on “The Milk Of Human Kindness” is forefront and killer! How is this glass already getting low on beer? If you ever wanted to eat a grapefruit off a pine needled forest floor, no need – Two Hearted Ale has got your odd craving covered.

 

“Too Much Between Us” makes your relationship problems extraneous in comparison to being on this ship away from your lover for ‘however many Junes’ lie between you.

The dramatic tone bellowing from “Devil Came From Kansas” is slightly humorous, reminiscent of Neil Young’s “Every Man Needs A Maid”, though not quite as intense as the latter!

We end this side with the fun “Boredom,” a song so riddled in bright sounds it would make all aboard the ship dance with glee following a hard day at sea.

consumes last few sips of the first beer

Side B:

Per usual, one drink down by this point. Excuse me whilst I pour another.

Damn that harmonica is coming in strong on “Juicy John Pink”!

 

Gary Brooker belting out the lyrics in blues fashion as the album flows into the piano driven beauty that is “Wreck of the Hesperus”…. Normally I tend to feel mixed emotions toward albums with multiple band vocalists fronting separate tracks, but on A Salty Dog the three singers I imagine to be singing these songs on their oceanic odyssey much like the ultimate trio of Quint, Hooper and Brody. All different vibes, expressing separate sentiments.

Show me the way to go home, Procol Harum, on land or sea or foam.

I imagine the head on this Two Hearted Ale to be sea foam melding into the nautical world A Salty Dog is creating.

The orchestral arrangement found within Salty Dog‘s “All This And More” is one of the highlights on the whole record. A song about clinging to a stagnant memory of the loved one you left behind as you pine for them. ‘In darkness through my being here, away from you… the bright light of your star confronts me, shining through…’ BEAUTIFUL.

Trower sings lead vocals on the following track “Crucifiction Lane” as he again shows us why he is a seriously underrated guitarist.

Now, normally I would end this by expressing some closing statement that brings along the album and beer pairing together swimmingly (okay enough water-related word play I know) yet just as the album portrays life to be a journey not as simply defined, I decided to leave you instead with the lyrics to the closing track “Pilgrim’s Progress”:

“I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
In trying to find the words which might begin it
I found these were the thoughts I brought along
At first I took my weight to be an anchor
And gathered up my fears to guide me round
But then I clearly saw my own delusion
And found my struggles further bogged me down
In starting out I thought to go exploring
And set my foot upon the nearest road
In vain I looked to find the promised turning
But only saw how far I was from home
In searching I forsook the paths of learning
And sought instead to find some pirate’s gold
In fighting I did hurt those dearest to me
And still no hidden truths could I unfold
I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been writ by one before me
We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on
Oh, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on”

Avid reader. Mushroom hunter. Gamer. Vinyl spinner. BA in Religious Studies.