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4.6 out of 5 stars27
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CDChange
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2012
I bought the CD after seeing the show, and haven't stopped listening to it since. It is haunting, beautiful, and - more so than the previous 'Diversions' albums - very much in the Unthanks' tradition. They didn't release it until today because they wanted people to see the show with Richard Fenwick's accompanying film before hearing the songs. I was lucky enough to see the show, and it is true, the combination of film and songs is unsurpassable, But if the songs are all you have, they are well worth having in their own right.

The film charts the boom and decline of British shipbuilding, focusing on the Tyne, and the songs that accompany it are a combination of contemporaneous songs (including Elvis Costello's 'Shipbuilding') and a number from Jez Lowe, whom I hadn't heard of before but will be investigating on the strength of this, in particular the sinisterly jolly 'Monkey Dung Man' which charts the malign and lingering effects of the use of asbestos (and like so many blighted lives, ends all too soon).

Rudyard Kipling's poem 'Big Steamers' is transformed by an ethereal tune and Niopha Keegan's air of fierce naivete from a tritely jingoistic poem into a song that raises the hairs on your neck. The one slightly awkward note is struck by Adrian McNally's foray into Steve Reich-style minimalism with 'The Romantic Tees' (which interestingly, most of the sleeve notes are devoted to - it doesn't warrant it). The only other nit I would pick is that while the show opened with an upbeat, optimistic 'Taking on Men', on the CD we only get the sad reprise from the end, which seems a pity.

Those however are only the most minor details - this is an Unthanks album up there with their best - and that's very good indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2013
I was waiting for something special from the "Unthanks" and I think this is it. I was not engaged by their previous diversions offering, covers of Robert Wyatt etc. It was in the category of that you might have had to be there to appreciate the banter and pace of the music, which as a recording was just so far set back as to be in me Aunt Fanny's parlour plucking a hooky-mat. But this is impressive. It captures the sound of industry in the river side communities (Tyne and Tees). The standout by far is "The Romantic Tees" an oxymoron turned into a love poem and a track that borrows heavily and rightly from the soundtrack of a film about the Tyne "Launch". A gem of a wee film by the way. I only have it on crap VHS but it still hits the memory recall like a sledgehammer. "Shipbuilding", the most well known song on this is different from Mr Costello/Wyatt versions people may be familiar with. It fits like a mitten! "Song from the Shipyards" is a great homage to a lost era. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2012
Just love folk songs as they tell a story. this is my first one of the shipyards and it's great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2013
I came to this album through a recommendation from a friend, I don't own Diversions Vol 1 or 2.

If I had heard this last year it would have been one of my three favourite albums of the year.

The harmonies are beautiful and the invocation of the working class North East in the lyrics is beautiful.

I love their version of Shipbuilding although I still have to say the Elvis Costello version with Chet Baker on trumpet is the best.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2012
However, a great song for a journey or some quiet reflection in the vein of King Creosote and John Hopkins's Diamond Mine.
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on 31 March 2013
I wasn't going to review this one as i couldn't do better than Sarah288's excellent review, but seeing a fellow reviewer do a surprisingly unkind character (musical) assassination on Adrian McNally i felt the need to defend him.
I don't know Adrian or have any connection with him, so this isn't personal, but although his piano playing on the album might be classed as simple/sparse it really suits the songs and is (to my ears) delightful.
Also, although i prefer the Robert Wyatt version of "Shipbuilding" Adrian's singing on the track is very good and combined with The Unthanks on the chorus makes the song very listenable.
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on 5 November 2015
I think it's fair to say that I didn't really fully understand folk music until the Unthanks.
Folk music really didn't have any true connection to my life until this journey back to the black and white version of the world of my childhood, and now I get it. That's what folk music is - remembering who you are and where you came from, and remembering it with love, and keeping it in your heart.
I've been surprised at the impact this music has made on me.
This one particular album sums it all up and stands out, make all the right connections. It always brings joy to my heart, tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.
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on 30 December 2013
The Unthanks were playing, I think, on Clive Anderson's Radio 4 Extra show about a year ago to promote this record (I'd just been given a digital radio as a present…), and they came across really well so I decided to buy it.

It's a very personal album with a firm sense of time and place, but I found it entirely easy to relate to. Their cover of Shipbuilding feels slightly out-of-place among the other compositions (not that it's badly-done… I'm just not sure it belongs on this album), which are immediately charming, and gain power and poignancy on subsequent listens.

A good album, from a good band.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
Once more , a delicate gem by the Unthanks. Evocative, elegant, impeccable. "The romantic tees" theme is masterful in its appearing simplicity. Buy it!
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on 8 December 2012
The title of this album really tells you want it is. All the songs are ballads or folk tunes remembering, or lamenting the loss of the shipyards. In many ways it could describe much of Britain's industry.

The Unthanks have great voices and some beautiful piano accompaniments are behind them in this album.

A whole album on one topic might be a bit much for some but then it's a concept album.
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