David Drake is an enormously talented artist and internet competent, social enterprise entrepreneur. He is committed to helping grass roots artists win grants that often go to institutionalized art because the creative artists do not have the information or the grant writing resources needed. David Drake is a creative heavy lifter of Milwaukee’s renewal.

Visit Organic Arts at http://www.organicarts.info

For David’s calendar and programs visit http://www.davidhbdrake.com

Review: “Rogue’s Gallery”

of “Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs,and Chanties”

Ahoy mates! Don’t be dropping any of your hard earned booty on the Johnny Depp produced 2-CD set “Rogue’s Gallery” of “Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs,and Chanties” music.

In 20-plus years of being a real sailor singing shanties on real ships I have never been sea-sick until I listened to this piece of bilge.

With the minor exception of Richard Thompson and a few others on Disc 2, none of these people have a clue what the music is about.

With all the smoke and fury of bad singing by ragged voices and a lot of electronic junk straining like sheets in a hurricane, there is not a proper malmorocker in the bunch. (look it up).

In the first place, most sea music is done acapella aboard ship. It’s very hard to play an electric guitar muchless anything else when hauling on a halyard.

Second, the music serves the work- it is sung to the rhythm that a shipboard task requires to coordinate the crew. Just try marching ‘round a capstan to these beats.

Then there’s the the language-
one song extols ‘Help me Bob, It’s a Bully in the Alley” as if there’s some nasty guy is coming down the street.

No. The real song says “Help me Bob, I’m Bully in the Alley” - it means knee-walking drunk. A singer should at least should do the homework to know what he’s singing about given the amount on money he will make on it.

Finally, with Johnny Depp’s name on it (I admit I have no idea on his level of artistic involvement) I suspect many parents will buy it for their pirate-crazed kids.

Bad idea.

In all my years of singing sea songs, I have never heard the word “fucking” sung in a song sung by a real sailor aboard ship (in this case repeatedly).

The guys were Victorians after all. Much was implied- little said graphically. I also wouldn’t want to explain to a kid what is meant by the whore that says “Mine’s so big, the fleet sails in…” I have heard that song (it’s real) but I still don’t recommend it for kids.

Basically this is a lot of well known sea songs that are much better done by the real practitioners. Picture Barry Manalow doing Gansta Rap and you get the idea how inappropriate (and ridiculous to a real sailor) this approach is.

I’m still trying to figure out where the marooned guy on the cover plugged his amp and midi in….

David HB Drake is a Milwaukee-based folksinger who often serves as historian/shantyman aboard the schooner “Denis Sullivan” when not touring the Midwest doing music. David is Director of Organic Arts Ltd., a Milwaukee-based non-profit organization bringing grass roots arts by free range performers to the Community.

Last edited by Olde. Based on work by dhbd and godsil.  Page last modified on December 18, 2006

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