Song of the Week – Whiskey Train, Procol Harum

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

I first became aware of Procol Harum (like most everyone) when their 1967 evergreen hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was #1 almost everywhere in the world, except in the US where it only reached a respectable #5.  I didn’t buy the album but was interested enough in their sound that I began to follow later releases.

Their third album, A Salty Dog (1969), was and is still a favorite of mine.  Not just a favorite Procol Harum album, but a favorite album more generally.  (Two songs from that album made the SotW in November 2011.)

So I naturally picked up their 4th album, Home (1970), when it came out.  But I didn’t like Home and ended up trading it at a used record store when I was in college.  Perhaps I thirsted for the contributions of keyboardist Matthew Fisher, who had departed the band before Home was completed – though I don’t remember being focused on that at the time.  It just had a different feel that wasn’t what I was expecting or looking for.

I eventually picked up a new copy that today has a happy “home” in my record collection.  Having reconsidered, it’s a pretty good disc.  The lead track is “Whiskey Train.”

“Whiskey Train” was written by Robin Trower and Keith Reid.  This signals one of the changes from previous albums – that Trower’s guitar is taking a more prominent role in the band’s sound.  And “Whiskey Train” is the perfect example.

It has a killer, bluesy riff and a healthy dose of cowbell.  It is easy to understand how it would inspire covers by artists such as Leslie West, Blackfoot, and David Gogo.

The album cover seems cheesy at first until you realize it is a parody of the popular British board game called Snakes and Ladders.

Enjoy… until next week.

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