Thursday, December 14, 2006

Justifying My Love, Part 2: Booty Callings

It's probably unfair to include Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys on my Top Ten of '06. For one, it's got 43 songs on it. For two, it's got dozens of people on it, from great to repugnant (Brian Ferry to Sting), all made unfailingly interesting by the fantastical, grim, barnicle-encrusted sea chantey genre. Even Sting is good! I can't stress enough how effing wonderful this album is. As much as I'm suspicious of any record cooked up by a movie actor (Johnny Depp, who sings and collaborates as "Jack Shit"), this was a genius idea on its face. The songs, all real traditional tunes, many from the 17th century, share a similarly circular haul-away-boys song structure and lyrics full of rotting morals, desperation and spiritual sea-sickness, a drunken cast of kings, whores and gamblers -- everything that rock-and-roll aspires to be and usually isn't anymore (hence the Captain Jack Sparrow/Keith Richards nexus). Tom Waits has basically had this netherworld to himself for 30 years and now here's an excuse for David Thomas (Pere Ubu), Van Dyke Parks and Akron/Family to try on his stinking, clanking, fish-filled boots. Just marinate in a few of these and enjoy. (By the way, I got the above image from a website describing some infamous lesbian pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.)

Lowlands Low - Brian Ferry & Antony

Baltimore Whores - Gavin Friday
(Listen closely, this one's really gross.)

The Grey Funnel Line - Jolie Holland (absolutely gorgeous; if only more pirates had had trumpet solos!)

Dan Dan - David Thomas (50 seconds long!)

Sally Brown - Teddy Thompson
(son of Richard)

Bully in the Alley- Three Pruned Men (Some kind of Irish supergroup with the exceptionally-named and appropriate-looking Id Busarus on lead vocal; also, Gavin Friday of the Virgin Prunes)

Blood Red Roses - Sting


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree...