This is the remastered version of the ‘Broken Barricades’ album (remastering by Paschal Byrne) and includes the original album plus a bunch of bonus tracks on CD1 and lives shows from New York & Stockholm on the other 2 CDs. As usual with Esoteric the packaging is excellent and a 28 page booklet.

When this album was released – in 1971 – progressive rock as it was then known was at a peak and many of the bands making a name for themselves had been massively influenced by Procol Harum.
Unfortunately, Harum themselves were not earning quite the same levels of success of some of those acolytes but this album still made the top 50 in the UK, the US and Germany as well as top 10 in Denmark.

‘Broken Barricades’ was the fifth album from the band and the last (for about twenty years) to feature Robin Trower on guitar. It also featured less of the Hammond organ that had been core to their sound in the beginning, taking on a more rocky feel but still touching on the classical elements that had made the band in the beginning.

Trower’s ‘Song For A Dreamer’ – written for Jimi Hendrix – is one of the strongest numbers on the album. It has a hazy and dreamlike feel to much of the opening passages, drifting into full on psychedelia and giving listeners a taste of the music he would be producing on his solo material.

‘Playmate Of The Mouth’ has the feel of Procul Harum at their best; piano led and with Brooker’s vocals set against blousy horns and pin-sharp guitar solo. Chris Copping’s bass playing is fluid and rich and B.J. Wilson seems to play three different rhythms at once on drums. It’s long been a favourite of mine and the remastering really does the song justice in bringing all of the instruments out into the open in a way that the original didn’t quite achieve.

The original album sounds better than I have ever heard it before and the additional live material shows a band at their best onstage. All told, an excellent package for the Harum lovers out there.