Procol Harum – “Broken Barricades” (Island / Chrysalis UK LP ILPS 9158)
This is the first British record that I have added to “My Ultimate Collection”. Both this one and the next record that go into “My Ultimate Collection” are British records from 1971.
I have 4 proper variants of this album (British LP, US LP with both die-cut and non-die-cut covers; Japanese paper sleeve CD), and some singles that correspond to this album. It’s the 5th Procol Harum studio LP. It’s the final PH LP to feature guitarist Robin Trower. It’s easily my favorite 70’s Procol Harum album. It’s not a long album, and I don’t even think the Japanese CD of it has any “bonus tracks”.
I was 12 years old when this album came out in early 1971. I waited and got a British import LP of it as quickly as possible, being that it was at least $1 more than a US copy.
It’s one of those records where I think, at some point, every song on it has been a favorite song of mine for a week or three. I recently heard it (the title track, “Broken Barricades”) playing in a shoe store (doubtlessly on some satellite station), and it took me a few hours to back down to Earth. I told Dorothy: “There isn’t a radio station in L.A. that would play this at all – much less during the day!”
It’s classic British rock music – the equal to the best works of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. I cannot recommend this album – or the band Procol Harum – highly enough. No self-respecting anglophile should be without this album.
How did I get so lucky? This album never had any aspect of ‘overkill’ work against it. No “hit singles”. I never heard it ‘over-talked’ – I don’t remember any reviews for it – I wouldn’t have cared to read about anybody ‘not liking’ this album, anyway! I was and am 100% this album’s target market. English language rock music, perfectly executed. All Hail Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Robin Trower, Chris Copping, and B.J. Wilson (R.I.P.)!
The decades came and went – and this album remained pleasant and essential for me. I have not lived without it for nearly 40 years, and I look forward to the next 40 years with it. This might not be my absolute favorite British LP ever, but…it must be damned close…
Procol Harum has always been a special band for me. Probably my strongest memory of 1968 is that of their debut album. Probably the first record I ever discussed with my older brother was “A Salty Dog” – no, he didn’t know what the lyrics were about, either! As of this writing, I have never seen Procol Harum play live in concert, except on my TV.
Rest in Peace, B.J. Wilson! (Now go and listen to “Power Failure”, folks!)