Sea Songs & Shanties

From the last days of sail with Bob Roberts—last of the sailing barge skippers, Cadgwith Cornish Fishermen’s Group, Harry Cox, Ron & Bob Copper and other singers and seafaring folk. 26 songs with full texts. Historic recordings made between 1950-60 by Peter Kennedy.
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"Pretty damned terrific throughout ... comprehensive notes, lyrics & photos ... confirm the excellent value of this set" Folk Roots "A stunning collection" Musical Traditions

A sea shanty is a type of work song that was once commonly sung, led by the .Shantyman., to accompany labour on board large merchant sailing vessels. The term is sometimes expanded to include a wider range of repertoire and characteristics, or to refer to a maritime work song in general. Shanties were often influenced by songs of African Americans, such as those sung whilst manually loading vessels with cotton in ports of the southern United States, and the repertoire borrowed from the contemporary popular music enjoyed by sailors, including minstrel music, popular marches and land-based folk songs, which were adapted to suit musical forms matching the various labour tasks required to operate a sailing ship, especially coordinated group efforts such as weighing anchor and setting sail. This historic recording made in the 1950s features a wonderful selection of sea songs and shanties recorded on tape at various locations by the famous folk song collector and performer Peter Bellemay. His aim was to capture a dying breed of performers before this old traditional style of folk song faded away or was lost (a genuine concern at the time). This compilation of those classic recordings was released by Saydisc records in 1994 and there is a raw but magical edge to both the recordings and the performances. Among the songs featured are the rousing Stormy weather boys, the classic Maggie May, the well known What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor, the irresistible Johnny Todd, and a song called Can’t you dance the Polka? which is also known by its American version, New York Girls. The artists include Bob Roberts, who was experienced in sea life and song from working on barges. Other performers include Cadgwith Fishermen.s Chorus from Cornwall, Bob & Ron Cooper, Harry Cox, Sarah Makem, Fishermen.s Group, Clifford Jenkins, Bill Barber, Bob & Ron Copper, and Tom Brown.

John Pitt,

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