Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys

Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys

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While the marketing insanity for Pirates of the Caribbean II continues to echo in the popular mindset, this whopping yet seemingly near-underground document -- born from the minds of the film's director, Gore Verbinski, his pal Johnny Depp, and Anti-Epitaph label boss (and Verbinski buddy) Brett Gurewitz<

Overview

While the marketing insanity for Pirates of the Caribbean II continues to echo in the popular mindset, this whopping yet seemingly near-underground document -- born from the minds of the film's director, Gore Verbinski, his pal Johnny Depp, and Anti-Epitaph label boss (and Verbinski buddy) Brett Gurewitz -- may end up as a lasting contribution to the populace at large without them even knowing it. Surely it lends its own weighty blend of blood, sweat, and tears to the folkloric literature of sea shanties and pirate songs, though cranks like Alan Lomax and John Jacob Niles are certainly turning over in their graves if they have any extraterrestrial knowledge of its existence. Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, produced by Hal Willner, has gathered up the usual outrageous, inspired, ambitious, sometimes ridiculously grouped musicians to record folksongs of the sea, from the call-and-response grunting and occasionally obscene work songs sung by men from the old seas who worked the riggings in rhythm, to pirates who needed (much as modern-day rappers) to boast of their exploits. Willner gathered together some 75 songs and went to Seattle to hang with Bill Frisell to discuss the project. Frisell gathered the Akron Family, Wayne Horvitz, and Eyvind Kang to be a kind of house band there, and netted a slew of songs from the likes of Robin Holcomb (whose reading of "Dead Horse" is one of the most beautiful and haunting things here); the notorious Baby Gramps (whose version of "Cape Cod Girls" starts everything off with a harrumph), and a slew of others. He later went to Los Angeles, New York, London, Dublin, and god knows where else, finding roots musicians to be an ad hoc house band. In London, Warren Ellis of Dirty Three and Bad Seeds fame and Kate St. John formed a unit with some other folks, and in L.A. it was Jack Shit and friends. But this is the back of the story, actually. The singers include everybody from pop blowhards like Sting and Bono, who do respectable jobs (well, not Bono: he blows it big-time on "A Dying Sailor to His Shipmates" because he can't help himself), to wildmen like David Thomas (of Pere Ubu) and Nick Cave; from modern-day darlings like Lucinda Williams and Rufus Wainwright (who sings with his mom, Kate McGarrigle while his cranky old dad Loudon Wainwright III makes an appearance for two cuts); to strange adventurers like Mark Anthony Thompson, Jarvis Cocker, and Bob Neuwirth; from bona fide rock eccentrics like Antony, Jolie Holland, Bryan Ferry, Van Dyke Parks, Stan Ridgway, and Gavin Friday (in Ireland anyway) to rock legends (Ferry fits here, too) like Lou Reed); to indie rock songwriting iconoclasts Joseph Arthur and Ed Harcourt; bona fide recluses like Mary Margaret O'Hara; true traditionalists like John C. Reilly, Martin Carthy and family (Eliza Carthy on her own, too), and Richard and Teddy Thompson. Oh yeah, and one true counterculture icon: Ralph Steadman! There's a whale load of 43 cuts spread out over two discs in a handsome package. It's bound to lose money unless some uptight Amerikanskis get adventurous real quick and buy it to put on their iPods to play on their sailboats and yachts, or if NPR does a feature on it for the yups (that would make both Ishmael and Captain Ahab proud). There are many standouts here, but those that really shake up the decks are Eliza Carthy's "Rolling Sea," Bryan Ferry's two contributions -- the entirely creepy "The Cruel Ship's Captain," and his duet with Antony "Lowlands Low" -- Nick Cave's "Pinery Boy" and his hilariously evil "Fire Down Below," Gavin Friday's "Baltimore Whores," Richard Thompson's reverential and lonesome "Mingualy Boat Song," Martin Carthy and family's "Hog-Eye Man," O'Hara's stirring "The Cry of Man," Cocker's wondrously cannibalistic "A Drop of Nelson's Blood," and Mark Anthony Thompson's hunted "Haul Away Joe." This doesn't mean there are other things here that will appeal to the masses, or even to the few. Let's face it, Baby Gramps, as great as he is, is only gonna make a few hearts (those that are diseased, most likely, or warped, most surely) flutter. Williams is good, but Parks is better, and Joseph Arthur can be downright scary when he wants to be: remember Tom Waits' contribution to another Willner project, Stay Awake: Interpretations of Vintage Disney Films? There you have it. There is something here for most, and something to piss off everyone else. The real deal is this: by bringing up these old relics -- some of which took considerable research to find -- Willner has done a service to folk culture by presenting it in such an oddball, loose, and fun way to the masses. Perhaps that rarefied world of folk culture fascists (who will remain unnamed here) may take umbrage, but consider those who will actually get turned on by this music and research the old songs themselves. Certainly that may be a choice few; for the rest, there is untold knowledge to be gained for random conversation, filling in the "personal weird stuff" file in their brains, and perhaps, if urbane enough, may spark a discussion for a moment or so until the next really "big" thing distracts them. Any way you hoist it, Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys is a treasure trove of the beautiful, the weird, the arcane, and the dangerous right out there on the record store shelves for anyone with a few dollars to spare to be awed or amused by.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Ben Ratliff
Chanteys are durable songs, and this turns out to be a strong album with heart as well as ideas: the conscious weirdness doesn’t render it inconsequential.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/22/2006
Label:
Anti
UPC:
0045778681723
catalogNumber:
86817

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Cape Cod Girls
  2. Mingualy Boat Song
  3. My Son John
  4. Fire Down Below
  5. Turkish Revelry
  6. Bully in the Alley
  7. The Cruel Ship's Captain
  8. Dead Horse
  9. Spanish Ladies
  10. Coast of High Barbary
  11. Haul Away Joe
  12. Dan Dan
  13. Blood Red Roses
  14. Sally Brown
  15. Lowlands Away
  16. Baltimore Whores
  17. Rolling Sea
  18. The Mermaid
  19. Haul on the Bowline
  20. A Dying Sailor to His Shipmates
  21. Bonnie Portmore
  22. Shenandoah
  23. The Cry of Man

Disc 2

  1. Boney Was a Warrior
  2. Good Ship Venus
  3. Long Time Ago
  4. Pinery Boy
  5. Lowlands Low
  6. One Spring Morning
  7. Hog-Eye Man
  8. The Fiddler
  9. Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold
  10. Fathom the Bowl
  11. What Do We Do with a Drunken Sailor
  12. Farewell Nancy
  13. Hanging Johnny
  14. Old Man of the Sea
  15. Greenland Whale Fisheries
  16. Shallow Brown
  17. The Grey Funnel Line
  18. A Drop of Nelson's Blood
  19. Leave Her Johnny
  20. Little Boy Billee

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Martin Carthy   Group Member
Robin Holcomb   Piano,Vocals
Loudon Wainwright   Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Nick Cave   Vocals
Bryan Ferry   Piano,Vocals
Robyn Hitchcock   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Van Dyke Parks   Piano,Vocals
Lou Reed   Guitar,Vocals
Sting   Vocals
Richard Thompson   Guitar,Vocals
Lucinda Williams   Guitar,Vocals
Rob Wasserman   Bass
Gavin Friday   Vocals,Background Vocals
Bob Neuwirth   Vocals
David Thomas   Vocals
Martyn Barker   Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals
Art Baron   Trombone
Martin Brumbach   Background Vocals
Robbie Casserly   Percussion,Drums
Jarvis Cocker   Guitar,Vocals,Vocoder
David Coulter   Fiddle
Debra Dobkin   Percussion,Background Vocals
Anto Drennan   Guitar
Terry Edwards   Flugelhorn
Warren Ellis   Strings,Violin,Vocals
Davey Faragher   Bass,Background Vocals
Bill Frisell   Guitar
Wayne Horvitz   Keyboards
Neil Larsen   Accordion
Val McCallum   Guitar,Background Vocals
Tony Molloy   Bass
Jenni Muldaur   Vocals,Background Vocals
Andy Newmark   Drums,Vocals,Background Vocals
Ed Pastorini   Harmonium,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Greg Prestopino   Background Vocals
Kate St. John   Accordion,Horn,Oboe,Vocals
Pete Thomas   Drums,Background Vocals
Hal Willner   Background Vocals
Dominic Richards   Bass,Background Vocals
Joe Berardi   Percussion,Drums
Adam Dorn   Background Vocals
Rory McFarlane   Bass,Vocals,Background Vocals
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Eliza Carthy   Violin,Vocals,Group Member
Mary Margaret O'Hara   Vocals
Maurice Seezer   Piano,Accordion
Kate McGarrigle   Guitar,Vocals
Rufus Wainwright   Vocals
Norma Waterson   Group Member
Joseph Arthur   Vocals
Ralph Steadman   Vocals,Background Vocals
Pietra Wexstun   Piano
Doug Pettibone   Guitar,Background Vocals
Vera Beren   Background Vocals
Eyvind Kang   Flute,Violin
Mocean Worker   Percussion
Andrea Corr   Vocals
Peter Stanley   Banjo
Teddy Thompson   Guitar,Vocals
Chocolate Genius   Vocals
Zoë Conway   Strings,Background Vocals
Richard Hawley   Guitar
Jenny Scheinman   Violin
Ed Harcourt   Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
Leo Abrahams   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Richard Greene & Beryl Marriott   Violin
Baby Gramps   Guitar,Vocals
Nicholas Cords   Viola
Rainy Orteca   Guitar,Background Vocals
Keith Moline   Guitar
Ross Orton   Drums
Tim van Eyken   Accordion,Vocals,Background Vocals
Mira Billotte   Vocals
Steve Mackey   Bass
Lee Ann Brown   Background Vocals
Phiiliip Morgan   Banjo,Irish Whistle
John C. Reilly   Vocals
Ricky Jay   Vocals
Arthur Baron   Trombone,Background Vocals,Didjeridu,tin whistle
Johnny Gandelsman   Violin
Eric Jaconbsen   Cello
Seth Olinsky   Guitar,Background Vocals
Miles Seaton   Bass,Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Douglas Shaw   Vocals
Jack Shit   Guitar,Background Vocals
Michael Thompson   Accordion
Tony Torn   Background Vocals
Ryan Vanderhoof   Guitar,Drums,Vocals,Background Vocals
Dave-Id Busaras   Vocals
Jim White   Drums,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Van Dyke Parks   Arranger
Tommy Roe   Engineer
Gavin Friday   Music Direction
Cyril Tawney   Composer
Martin Brumbach   Engineer
Jarvis Cocker   Producer
Warren Ellis   Music Direction
Bill Frisell   Music Direction
John Kilgore   Engineer
David Rideau   Engineer
Kate St. John   Music Direction
Gore Verbinski   Executive Producer
Hal Willner   Producer
Johnny Depp   Executive Producer
Eric Liljestrand   Engineer
Graham Sutton   Producer,Engineer
Howard Pyle   Cover Art
Dave Slevin   Engineer
Ryan Hadlock   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Jenny Scheinman   String Arrangements
Phiiliip Morgan   Annotation
Vanessa Parr   Engineer
Jack Shit   Music Direction

Customer Reviews

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Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
From ballads to bawdy, you will find yourself foot stomping to the music and singing some of the words. I wake up in the morning humming the music. Try it, you'll like it. Some of the past is in all of us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wasn't familiar with authentic sea chanteys before this record came out. The genre always interested me to an extent with the resurge in pirating. This definitely did not disappoint. It is nice to hear something different in an oversaturated music market. The list of performers is also impressive: Lou Reed, Baby Gramps, Sting, Bono, Jolie Holland, etc. You can't go wrong it's simply amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read both preceding reviews and purchased anyway having listened through both disks with my boys (ages 6 and 8) I say both reviews are accurate. The production values are bad in most cases. My younger son described the first track on the second disk as &#8220;ugly and burpish&#8221;, I agree. The version of Deadmans&#8217; Chest is awful. For the most part, they are simple songs, simply done. Despite this, I am pleased with my purchase. We three males are enjoying most of the songs. We all sing out load &#8220;&#8230; Drag your nuts across me guts&#8230;&#8221; &#8211; this from the Whores of Baltimore. I am sure my children do not understand what they are singing about I hope their Mother doesn&#8217;t either. There are a couple of other tunes to be flat out avoided. Track 2 on the first disk is a composite of limericks you do not want grade school children to hear. There is one, early on the second disk with much use of the &#8220;F&#8221; word. Parents should listen fist by themselves or be prepared to fast forward. If you are an adult with out children, buy this disk, forgive the slop and enjoy the fun (Track 2 on the first disk). If you are an adult with young children, buy this disk but be wary, this is not Kid&#8217;z Bop. If you are an adult child with children buy this disk, spin it, enjoy but be prepared for a call from your ex-wife or their teacher.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In today&#8217;s world when you think of pirates you think of Johnny Depp with shiny teeth and Mickey Mouse ears. But the way pirates should be looked at are as vulgar, lonely, pillagers. If you think of pirates in this manner you will enjoy the interpretations of Rogue&#8217;s Gallery brings to their music. An eclectic array of not only artist but also the unique styles they bring to the music. From Sting to Nick Cave, Bono to Jolie Holland the only thing lacking from this cd is a ship to take you away and sail the 7 seas. I highly enjoyed this cd. The interpretations of these songs were unique in a way that only these artists could deliver.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This may be the worse album ever made. Are they kidding with this. There are a 1,000 better sea chantey albums than this. No sailor in his or her right mind would play this. I fast forwarded through more cuts that I listened to. "What do you do with a drunken sailor?" defies explanation. I know what to do with this singer (David Thomas) tell him to shut the hell up.Thank God for Sting. If not for him I would of thrown myself overboard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard an ad for this album on NPR and rushed out that very day to my local BN store. I devoured the liner notes, and was extremely excited. But then I listened to this album. Twice, from beginning to end. My excitement quickly to disappointment. The first time I wanted a feel for the album--both CD's, about 50 songs. It was so bad I ended up fast-forwarding through 90% of the tracks the first time around. I figured I needed some time to digest the music, to fully appreciate the songs, so I started again to see if I could discover the talent and artistry hidden somewhere in the album I somehow missed the first go around. But, alas, I could not. There are a great many problems with this album. I will highlight a few that were most evident. First, as the liner notes boast, the album was produced at the last minute and quite haphazardly. This is extremely evident in the shoddy mixing and overall amateur feel of each song, as well as the construction and order of the album as a whole. There is a jerky start and stop to the rhythm, switching abruptly between sappy ballads, rambling chanteys, and downright dull interpretations. Many tracks rely on ambient musical arrangements that are just awful. Not to mention each performer seems to perform their track their way, without regard to continuity or overall &#8220;listenability&#8221;. Second (this one was most disappointing) these are not period performances. Did they really have ambient electronic synthesizers on the high seas? There is heavy reliance on electric guitar, synthetic harmonies, and just disappointing arrangements in nearly every track. If you are a fan of traditional acoustic Folk, Irish, Appalachian, or any other related genres, take caution with this album&#8212;you will waste a lot of time, and end up disappointed. Thirdly, even a song I knew, &#8220;What do you do with a drunken sailor,&#8221; was so mangled and twisted, I could not recognize what song I was listening to for nearly a minute into the track. What should have been a bawdy, rowdy chantey/drinking song turned into a sappy ambient guitar performance that was simply annoying. This album appears to have no respect for the music, and these interpretations are simply disappointing. Even the hard-core pirate fan will feel the pang of regret after listening to this album. I could write volumes on what is wrong with this album going track by miserable track, but I realize I should not waste any more of my time on it. I suggest you do the same and avoid it. This album is not worth your time or money.