A Salty Dog by Procul Harum 1969 on the Regal Zonophone Label, value £50

When it was first displayed in the window of a record shop, this imposing album cover made you stop in your tracks, it caught your eye, brought a smile to your face and generated interest. It was hand painted by the girlfriend of the mostly invisible member Keith Reid who rarely appeared onstage with the band but remained as a lyricist. It is a humorous pastiche of the picture on the Players Navy Cut cigarette packet of long ago.

The title song A Salty Dog has been covered by many artists such as Billy Joel, Sarah Brightman and Marc Almond. Procul Harum recorded their version with an orchestra, the album has a nautical theme with music composed mainly by lead singer Gary Brooker and lyrics by Keith Reid who had a penchant for writing imaginary seafaring tales and searching for pirate gold. This was the third studio album with the original members of the band, shortly after this, some left to pursue different careers in music.

Although the line up has changed considerably over the years, the band are still performing with founder member Brooker at the helm and Reid still writing the lyrics. They have had more success in North America, Canada and throughout Europe, they often appear at large venues with a full orchestra, sometimes a choir as well, unfortunately, in this country they are often mistakenly referred as a one hit wonder group, probably because radio presenters only ever play A Whiter Shade Of Pale. It was the biggest selling record of 1967 but over the years they have released a dozen or so albums, all to wide acclaim but their music is rarely played in the U.K. A Salty Dog is acknowledged as their best achievement. I strongly recommend turning all the lights out, place your music speakers strategically apart, then sit and listen to the track Wreck Of The Hesperous, you can be forgiven for thinking you can smell the salt in the air and the cry of the seagulls. When the sound of the sailing ship is breaking up seemingly all around, you will be running to turn the lights back on!

Procul Harum are still sailing the seven seas and flying the flag.