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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bargain For The Broad Minded
I'm a bit of an old folkie but knew that this album was not a straightforward cd of english folk songs. The list of artists featured is very broad - some of them from a folk background, some from the mainstream of pop and rock and some pretty obscure to an English listener.

There are 43 tracks on 2 cd's and I'd probably give 5 stars to at least half of them...
Published on 31 Aug 2006 by McGrooger

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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting idea slightly undermined?
When I heard about the release of this album I was extremely excited, as for years I have been hunting down various old and new recordings of sea chanteys. I'm not a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as whilst they are a lot of fun and great entertainment for the average person, they are completely fantastical, and anyone who knows much of the history of...
Published on 22 Aug 2006 by N. Ball


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bargain For The Broad Minded, 31 Aug 2006
By 
This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
I'm a bit of an old folkie but knew that this album was not a straightforward cd of english folk songs. The list of artists featured is very broad - some of them from a folk background, some from the mainstream of pop and rock and some pretty obscure to an English listener.

There are 43 tracks on 2 cd's and I'd probably give 5 stars to at least half of them. You can always skip any you don't like or don't want your granny to listen to - some like Loudun Wainwright's version of The Good Ship Venus are truly filthy.

Among my favourite tracks are Nick Cave's outrageous version of Fire Down Below, a hilarious version of a song, Bully in The Alley by some group called Three Pruned Men and Van Dyke Parks version of The Greenland Whale Fishery, a song I've been singing for about 30 odd years. Hal Willner the weird and wonderful producer has come up with an even weirder and wonderfuller bunch of artists some of whom in turn have come up with truly original versions of the sea songs featured.

I wavered a bit about buying this album but am really glad I did - I'll just need to be careful who's in the car with me when I've got it blasting out!
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117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heresy from a "purist", 9 Oct 2006
By 
This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
As a founder member of one the Westcountry's best known shanty crews, Hanging Johnny", who have been singing "authentic" versions of these wonderful sailor's songs for some 15 years, with numerous recordings and appearances throughout Europe to our name, I suppose I could be labelled a "purist" and, having read some of the reviews for this collection, particularly on Amazon.com, might be expected to write a review full of bile and venom, bemoaning the apalling treatment given to such revered and delicate jewels as these 43 songs. However, with one or two notable exceptions, I have to say that I have rarely enjoyed a collection more! Yes there are a couple of dreadful renditions, but the vast majority of tracks are stunning interpretations of songs, all too frequently preserved in aspic and given the "precious" treatment. The opening track "South Australia" is a tour de force where spirit and sheer inventiveness rule and set the tone for the rest of the album. How grand to hear "Good Ship Venus" in all her unexpurgated glory, sung so well by Loudon WainwrightIII with such excellent backing. I am an old-school shantyman, but I take my hat off to these guys; forget purism, forget cardboard cut-out pirates; get this album because of its integrity, and because it has the guts to dare to be different in a bland and boring world -pure entertainment- Stan Hugill would have loved it.

Simon Isserlis -Hanging Johnny
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting idea slightly undermined?, 22 Aug 2006
By 
N. Ball "Nick" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
When I heard about the release of this album I was extremely excited, as for years I have been hunting down various old and new recordings of sea chanteys. I'm not a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as whilst they are a lot of fun and great entertainment for the average person, they are completely fantastical, and anyone who knows much of the history of the real pirates will be aware that there are so many absolutely fantastic and true pirate stories out there. Still, director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp obviously care a great deal about the subject and with some help from some world-class artists have produced this album.

Whether or not you'll like this music depends largely on what you're looking for in it. The songs fall into two loose categories - 1)dedicated folk singers singing fairly faithful versions of the sea chanteys; and 2) rock/pop artists reinterpreting the material in a loose punkish style. The first category of songs I found to be absolutely what I was expecting from the album, and have found some incredibly moving moments among them - the opening tune 'Cape Cod Girls', for example, followed by 'My Son John'and 'Haul Away Joe'. The folk singers seem to be able to deliver an authentic feel to the material which takes you to another place altogether.

The rock singers, on the other hand, should certainly be applauded on trying to make something new of the traditional songs. Alas, it doesn't always really come off. Some work better than others (Andrea Corr's performance is a nice surprise) but some really feel leaden compared to the subtleties of the folkier side of the album, all clunking drums and distorted guitars where they really don't fit. Bono's redition of 'A Dying Sailor To His Shipmates' (a heart-stoppingly beautiful song in the hands and vocal cords of Paul Clayton) is never-ending and cannot fail to grate, and Nick Cave's blackish snarling feels rather like he's trying to compensate authenticity with attitude - it doesn't work. I suppose this is all simply an attempt to attract more interest in the album by having the big names. They don't completely wreck it, and I'm happy that people may hopefully discover the other songs on the album having been initially interested only by the more well-known artists.

Ultimately, I've derived a lot of pleasure from this album, given judicious use of the skip button. There's a huge amount here to enjoy, whatever your taste, so get stuck in and have fun. Yo ho ho.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of great songs, a few awful songs., 9 Sep 2006
By 
P. Moan - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
I bought this CD because I am just starting to get really interested in sea chanteys. Folk has been my favorite genre of music for a long while now, along with celtic punk. I live off bands such as the Pogues, the Tossers, Blood or Whiskey, the Dubliners etc etc. When I got this album I was really excited to hear some people interpretations of these Chanteys. I have to say that there are some blinding songs on here. Songs such as Baltimore's Whores, Sally Brown, Lowlands Away, Greenland Whale Fisheries are all brilliant songs. I am also very impressed by the ability of the rock singers such as Bono to get the idea across of the Chantey's. I am glad they had Sting do Blood Red Roses, as he has a large interest in this kind of music, and pulls it off really well.

On the other hand - some of the songs on this album are absolutely awful. Everyone knows "What shall we do with the drunken sailor" and I have heard some brilliant versions of this song done. They have all had a mix of high energy and aggression, which is the way I see this song being played. Then I hear the version on this album and it has to be the weakest version of the song I have EVER heard. There is no energy in it, in fact it is quite an energy sapping song. I have to say that just this one song on its own stops the album getting 5 stars. There are a few other songs of similar quality, but overall there are more good songs than there are band in this collection of 43.

Definately worth a buy if you are interested in folk/chanteys. There are some great songs by some great musicians. Just remember to skip What shall we do with the drunken sailor!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Treasure it, 3 Aug 2006
By 
J. W. Bassett (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
While working on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp became fascinated with the lore and fable of pirates and sailors and decided, along with Anti and Epitaph boss Brett Gurewitz, to create a compilation of songs paying tribute to life on the high seas. Needing a captain for their vessel, the trio enlisted legendary producer Hal Willner, who - just as he did on the fantastic Disney compilation Stay Awake - began matching up maverick musicians with extraordinary songs.

The artists clearly savour the opportunity to play pirate and each give it their own stamp. So, we have Bill Frisell's languid, haunting take on Spanish Ladies and Sting's hoary growl on traditional worksong Blood Red Roses, while Nick Cave snarls his way through Pinery Boy and Fire Down Below.

Never one to shy away from a chance to tackle traditional material, Richard Thompson clearly relishes Mingulay Boat Song, while his son, Teddy Thompson, performs Sally Brown. The family theme continues as Rufus Wainwright and his mother, Kate McGarrigle, play Lowlands Away. Rufus' dad, Loudon Wainwright III, also turns up to play the disgustingly funny Good Ship Venus and Turkish Revelry.

Other highlights include Gavin Friday from The Virgin Prunes' rambunctious take on Baltimore Whores and Antony's (of Antony & The Johnsons) astonishing vocal talents sitting alongside Bryan Ferry's monaural drawl on Lowlands Low. Jarvis Cocker's 7-minute A Drop Of Nelson's Blood is staggering, while the lilting hum of Bono's A Dying Sailor To His Shipmates is perhaps the track most likely to instigate a bout of seasickness.

Rogue's Gallery offers a look at the hardships, the horrors, the lusts, the lurid depths and the beauty that led men down to the sea for hundreds of years. In piratical terms, think of it as a treasure chest overflowing with gems.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 27 May 2007
This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
I thought this was great. I found it extremely interesting to listen to songs I have never heard, some of which that were 400 years old and sounded as fresh as some punk songs today. There were a few I could have done without the modern versions, but still fun to hear. I think at its best are the acoustic versions, and might have benefited from a bit more angst in the songs that seemed to be the "hoisting" etc songs, but still great additions to a music collection for land lubers. I think Grey Funnel Line is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in recent years, and Cape Cod Girls seems to capture the spirit of the entire album in the first few seconds..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once you press play you can't help but enjoy, 31 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
I loved this cd. Whilst not quite what I was expecting ( I expected more traditional sea shanties etc) and its all the better for it. My eight year old son did ask me turn it off due to the language which for Pirate ballads is only to be expected. What ever your taste in music I think you could find something on here to enjoy. I didn't take it out of the CD player for two weeks and its been replaced by its follow up Son of Rogues Gallery. Buy it, Put it on with friends around and enjoy( a drink or two may help also)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars concept stuff -when it's good it's quality - not authentic, 12 July 2009
By 
Mr. I. Meek "Bigsta" (The Highlands) - See all my reviews
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I love it. It's not all of a standard, difficult to digest in parts for sure.

Never heard any real shanties apart from stuff modern folk guys chose.

The more trad stuff is ALMOST what you'd expect, ALMOST - but it's people like Loudon WIII and Nick Cave playing at being pirates I enjoy most. There's some really out there takes on what being a pirate means on here. When it works it's delightful. Fun. Unlike anything else you'll ever here (though think there's rumours of a second). Skip what you don't.

Get yourself a bottle of good jamaican rum and enjoy singin gruff! (although be warned of classically-trained-singer-next-door-neighbour singing "what shall we do with the drunken sailors" the next morning when you awake with a head like a voodoo shrunken head! - sorry neighbour!)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's great to have Hal Willner back after so long ...., 1 Sep 2006
By 
Mr. G. Hassan "The Bungo Boy" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
Hal Willner is undoubtably one of the great, creative geniuses of the American music scene. His trail of alternative, leftfield tribute albums from 1981 created an incredible soundscape - while introducing a new generation to the wonders of Nino Rota, Monk, Kurt Weill, Disney, Mingus and more.

The above five albums were works of joy, invention and an elaborate, private imagined world - where leftfield stars reinterprated long-lost classics, and mainsteam stars such as Sting and Lou Reed - found a different side to their muse.

After the above salvo Willner seems to have lost his touch; the Mingus album was an absolute wonder, creating a whole host of haunting sounds and aura. There then followed albums about Harold Arlen, Edgar Allan Poe, and Kurt Weill (again), none of which showed sureness of touch.

And then silence for ten years til now and this impressive piece of work - a burst of energy and force involving 43 songs and many, more artists - given the amount of collaborations.

It is great to have Willner back, and if not quite on form - compared to his earlier peak - well, just to have him back. This is an imaginative, stimulating journey thru the world of sea chantey songs and the world of sailing, fighting and piracy. Many of these songs deserve a wider audience, and Willner and his team have come up trumps here. And there are many classic performances by the artists: I for one am not familiar with the song 'Boney was a Warrior', which literally recounts Napoleon's military adventures in swash-buckling style.

Ultimately though this is a curate's egg. It is just too-long, too-over ambitious - as if Willner is trying to make uo for his ten year's absence. And it just covers too many styles: from sensitive, literal folk readings, to alt rock, to the celebrity culture renditions of people like the ghastly Bono - whose entry here must rank as the worst thing in his career (poss. beating his 'duet' with Sinatra, 'I've Got You Under My Skin')

A fascinating album Hal, and a great idea, but next time dont leave it so long, and maybe exercise a bit more editing and selectivity in your address book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too shabby, 1 Nov 2007
By 
This review is from: Rogue's Gallery:Pirate Ballads (Audio CD)
I can understand some folk purists wanting to hate this before they've even heard it, and it could have ended up as a complete dogs breakfast. Yes if they'd given the whole undertaking to Bellowhead it might have been a classic, but on the whole it's not turned out too bad, and there's something to be said for the eclectic nature of the thing.

I'll have nothing said against Baby Gramps, he's a fine guitarist and that's no affectation, he really does sound like Popeye's drunken brother. Surprisingly of the "Big Names" Sting makes the best fist of his effort. I say surprising because he strikes me as the most unlikeable of people. Unsurprisingly Bono misses the point completely, and confirms that he is now completely and utterly up himself.

The most authentic voice however comes from the incomparable Richard Thompson, but there are quite a few enjoyable tracks on here, CD1 needing a lot less skipping than CD2.
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