Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
An essential book by a real shantyman
on 8 September 2010
This is the definitive book of Sea Shanties and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this area. It containing a vast collection of tunes, including different variations and sets of lyrics that were used. Most importantly you get a real sense that the author has lived and worked on board a ship, many of the shanties are those that Stan Hugill learnt directly from sailors and sang himself while at sea. There is usually at least a paragraph of background on each shanty, and the book also contains many fine illustrations by the author showing scenes aboard ship.
If I have one small regret it is that Stan felt unable to publish the full uncensored lyrics to some of the 'racier' shanties, and instead on several occasions omitted or 'disguised' verses, usually to remove the most overtly sexual parts. To be fair, this probably reflects the fact that the book was originally published in the earlier 60s rather than any failing of the author, and Stan is at least open about the places where he has made alterations giving anyone really interested the opportunity to use their imagination to restore the shanty to its original bawdy state!
Overall the best book that is ever likely to be written on the subject, and a fascinating read for anyone interested in folk music or maritime history.