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Procol Harum

Broken Barricades (Expanded and Remastered Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This new edition of Procol Harum's 1971 studio release is a 3-CD set. The first disc includes the main album with some un-released alternate takes as bonus tracks. That album is among the band's best, as far as I'm concerned. It's also the final Procol Harum disc to feature Robin Trower on guitar. After touring the album for a time, Trower left, being replaced by Dave Ball. The second two CDs, made up of live performances, features Ball in the later performances, with Trower playing just on the New York tracks. It should be noted that two of the song included on the third disc (that was recorded for a Swedish radio show) "In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence" and "Repent Walpurgis" were recorded, but not actually broadcast as part of the show. This set includes all three CDs along with a poster and informative booklet in a nice digipack case. 


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD A

            

Simple Sister

This is such a classic tune.  The guitar sound that opens this almost nods to early heavy metal. The track marches out from there into a more standard Procol Harum arrangement. Trower puts in a smoking guitar solo later in the tune. The cut builds out to a powerhouse progressive rock jam as it drives onward. This is one of the band's best loved cuts, and there is a reason for that. It's magic.

Broken Barricades
A mellower number, there is a dream-like element to this cut. It has some really pretty things at play.
Memorial Drive
Now, this one rocks out more. It has a real psychedelic edge, and Trower's presence is obvious. There is a real bluesy element here. While the guitar really shines, overlook the killer piano at your own detriment. There is some really powerful jamming further down this musical road.
Luskus Delph

Piano leads this piece out of the gate. The track begins to evolve from there with a magical kind of mellower progressive rock sound driving it. Strings add to the charm of the cut and there are some interesting twists and turns.

Power Failure
More of a rocker, this has a lot of energy. It also has some great hooks and some hints of blues rock. This is hard-edged and classy. There is a percussive break later in the tune that is extensive and interesting. They eventually make it back to the song proper with the sound of an audience applauding wildly added to the mix.
Song for a Dreamer
Bluesy psychedelia is on the menu as this starts tentatively with spoken vocals. The cut works out to a very Hendrix-like trippy arrangement. Of course, Hendrix is the inspiration for this, so that makes perfect sense. The guitar work on this is so classy, and is really the central selling point for the tune. This is an extended piece with a lot of echoey, dreamy texture.
Playmate of the Mouth
Starting on piano, this works to more of an expected Procol Harum kind of arrangement. Trower's guitar features prominently in this arrangement.
Poor Mohammed
This rocker has a really strong guitar presence. It's still recognizable as classic Procol Harum, but has a lot of bluesy guitar rock in the mix. It's a potent tune and was a great choice to close the album proper.
Bonus Tracks
             
Simple Sister (raw track)

This instrumental take on the opening track of the album is a real powerhouse. The jam just works so well.

Broken Barricades (long fade)
This is an intriguing alternate take on the cut. That closing section definitely goes on a bit too long, though.
Memorial Drive (early mix)
Rocking out really well, I dig this version of the piece quite a bit. The closing bit is almost quintessential Trower.
Memorial Jam
This instrumental take is a real powerhouse blues rocking number. It's another that has all the Trower trademarks built into it.
Luskus Delph (early version)
I almost think that I prefer this to the final version. It has a bit more of a psychedelic edge, and really shows off a lot of magic.
Power Failure (no applause)
This cut is comparable to the other version.
Song for a Dreamer (King Jimi) (backing track)
The guitar really stands out and shows off its Hendrixisms on this alternate version.
Playmate of the Mouth (The Boyard's Ball) (raw track, heavy beats mix)
I like this version of the tune quite a bit. It works well.
Poor Mohammed (backing track)
I dig this blues rocking jam. It's very classy. This arrangement really lets it shine.
CD B

                

Live WPLJ New York City
              
12-4-71
           
Memorial Drive

After a short spoken introduction, they power out into a live rendition of this killer tune. It works really well here.

Still There'll Be More
I dig this rocker quite a bit, too. It's not the proggiest thing here, but does have some elements of progressive rock in it. It also has some smoking hot guitar work.
Nothing That I Didn't Know
A mellower cut, this is dramatic, evocative and very strong. It's a slow moving number that's much proggier in a balladic way.
Simple Sister
Here we get a powerhouse live rendition of the classic tune. This thing is purely on fire.
Luskus Delph
This proggier tune works well in live performance. It does feel just a little lackluster here, though.
Shine on Brightly
This is another Procol Harum classic. They put in an inspired live rendition of it. It's proggy and very cool stuff.
Whaling Stories
There is a lot of jazz built into the jam that makes up the introduction. It's one of the most decidedly prog things here in a lot of ways. As it drops to the verse, the tune is packed full of mellow drama and emotional power. This builds up with style. A jam later in the track features some killer guitar work. This turns into such an amazing piece of music as it continues growing. It really is an epic piece in terms of size, scope and power. It reaches a real peak late in the number. Then the piano and voice take command from there in a mellower, and logical, resolution. The tune gets more rocking again after that verse.
Broken Barricades
This cut is good, but really pales in comparison to the number that preceded it. That said, it would be hard to stand up to that thing, really.
Juicy John Pink
Here we get a pure blues rocker that still has plenty of Procol Harum trademarks in the mix, though.
A Salty Dog
Here we get another classic. This has some powerfully evocative musical passages. The balance between mellower and more powered up, dramatic stuff is great. The tune works very well in this performance.
Whisky Train
Fast-paced blues rock merges with proto-prog very well on this killer tune. This live performance is on fire.
Power Failure
Here we get a live rendition of the song that features the drum showcase.
BBC Radio One
      
'Sounds of the 70s' - 6-10-71
                
Simple Sister

Here we get another killer live performance of the piece. The sound quality on this leaves a bit to be desired. I have to think that perhaps the tapes weren't preserved all that well.

Quite Rightly So

The sound quality seems better on this number. It's a solid, mellower proto-prog piece. An announcer talks quite a bit at the end of this tune, but they fade him out while he's still at it.

Broken Barricades
I really like this version of the title track quite a bit. The recording quality seems to be the better than that on the last couple.
Power Failure
The drum solo section seems shorter on this version than on the other ones we've heard. this is a solid tune. The recording quality is perhaps not at the same level as the last tune, but it is better than the first two from this show.
CD C
           
Live - Soeriges Radio, Stockholm
                      
16-10-71
            
In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence

Keyboards bring this tune into being, but it launches out into a full band treatment from there. This is a decidedly proggy number that works very well in this live performance.

Still There'll Be More
Another strong live performance this one has a ton of classy prog. It's energized and so cool. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing built into this tune. The jam later in the track is on fire.
All This and More
Showing off the balance between the mellower and more rocking, this is really quintessential Procol Harum. It's proggy, dramatic and powerful.
Quite Rightly So
This performance seems particularly inspired. The recording sounds great, too. That  combination makes this one exceptional. I really love the guitar soloing on the jam late in the piece.
Power Failure
The band seem like they were really at the top of their game during this concert because this is possibly the most potent live performance of this song on the set.
Pilgrims Progress
Slower moving and pretty, this is more of a balladic piece. It has a bit of the "A Whiter Shade of Pale" sound to it. The cut seems to end, but then piano joins to move it in a new direction.
Simple Sister
Another live version of this powerhouse rocker, the guitar somehow sounds even meaner in this performance than normal. This is probably my favorite live rendition of this tune on the whole set, too.
Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)
A number that comes in slower and mellower, this reflects the folk prog side of the band. It seems like trademark Procol Harum. While this performance is solid, this is arguably the weak point of this final disc.
A Salty Dog
The introduction on this seems a bit drawn out and tentative, in a good way, allowing the drama to really build. They bring it out into a strong rendition of the tune, really shining.
Repent Walpurgis
I love the organ melodies and sound on this cut. It's a very pretty and proggy number that works particularly well. As the guitar rises up, it drives the piece in classy new directions. Ball puts in some particularly expressive soloing. The introduction sections works through to a climax, and then they take it to an unaccompanied piano movement that has a very classical edge to it. Eventually it builds back out from there. A powerful rocking jam ensues as this instrumental drives onward.
In the Autumn of My Madness / Look to Your Soul / Grand Finale
Piano brings this into being. The vocals come in over the top of that. The rest of the band join after the first line. The cut gets a shot of power and drama as they do. This is a classy prog-based rocker that's quite cool. It's also a great performance. It turns toward the metallic in a break after the four-minute mark. The guitar really screams out at times before they take things into psychedelic weirdness. Eventually piano returns to create the backdrop for the next vocal segment. The band power it up after a time, moving this forward in a trademark Procol Harum fashion. It builds to a peak and then drops back to just piano and voice from there. At over 14 minutes, this is a real powerhouse and they use that space to really stretch out. Of course, this encompasses three pieces, so you would expect an extended length and a lot of variety. The performance makes its way into some classically tinged stuff, and some screaming guitar rises up as that builds outward. It all works forward to a killer ending.
 
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