10 career-altering third albums from bands in the 1960s and '70s

Things changed for these groups with their third full-length releases.
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A SALTY DOG, by Procol Harum (1969)

In many ways, Procol Harum never surpassed their very first release – “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” which was released as a non-album single in 1967. That’s unfortunate, because a few years later, on A Salty Dog, they created one of the greatest of all prog-rock albums.

Their blending of Gary Brooker’s classical piano with guitarist Robin Trower’s exceptional blues riffs wasn’t exactly unique, but when they hit on the right mix, they just did it better than most. Matthew Fisher’s organ added a special texture, not unlike the way the Band used Garth Hudson’s organ as its secret weapon.

The first three tracks reveal the remarkable breadth. The opening title track is a classically grand epic. It is followed by “The Milk of Human Kindness,” a first-rate blues rocker. Then the lovely orchestral “Too Much Between Us,” softens the tone.

That sets a pattern throughout the ten-song cycle, shifting back and forth between orchestral and blues numbers, and even throwing in a calypso note on “Boredom,” one of the tracks sung by Fisher. A Salty Dog was a bigger hit in the UK and New Zealand than it was in the States. But over the years, it has been recognized as the most complete articulation of the band’s unique sound.