Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Folk, Celtic, British Folk, International, Traditional Folk, Folksongs, Irish Folk, Sea Shanties, Traditional Scottish Folk
With ice caps melting and folkloric Mumford pop on the rise, volume two of this maritime music project – produced partly by pirate-booster Johnny Depp and fantasy-band builder Hal Willner – is even more timely than the first. The mood varies wildly: Beth Orton incants lonely blues ("River Come Down"), Iggy Pop fends off butt bandits ("Asshole Rules the Navy"), Frank Zappa gets jazzy (a late-Sixties "Handsome Cabin Boy"). Michael Stipe sounds great with pal Courtney Love on "Rio Grande," and Tom Waits wrings boozy pathos from "Shenandoah," which features Keith Richards on guitar.
Not every song sung at sea is a sea shanty. Shanties are work songs designed to be sung to accompany labor on ships at sea, and they are designed to flow and be sung in the rhythm necessary for the task at hand, a task that may well need timed and unison movement. Sea songs, on the other hand, are songs that chronicle life at sea, and they are generally more narrative and personal, while a pirate song is, well, a song about pirates, or a song sung by pirates.
Seven years ago, maverick producer Hal Willner recorded the gloriously free-wheeling Rogues Gallery; now, at last, comes the follow-up. It includes a raucous, stomping Leaving of Liverpool from Shane MacGowan, and an extraordinary treatment of Shenandoah featuring growled vocals from Tom Waits, with backing vocals and twanging guitar from Keith Richards. Then there's a sturdy ballad from Patti Smith and Johnny Depp, a previously unheard Frank Zappa instrumental from the 1960s, decidedly dodgy vocals from Iggy Pop and a powerful treatment of Brecht/Weill's Pirate Jenny from Brooklyn singer Shilpa Ray, backed by Nick Cave.
You might remember Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys, that 2006 anthology of bawdy and bloody tunes compiled by Hal Wilner at Johnny Depp’s request while the actor starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man‘s Chest. Well this double-CD,Son of Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys, is the sequel. It’s not as raunchy as the first, or as bloody in its details, but it still has many ribald and gory moments.
Hearing the first Rogues Gallery six years ago was like discovering a portal into a new world, as the likes of Richard Thompson, Bryan Ferry and Nick Cave raised more pirate ghosts than Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl. Whether fittingly raucous or hauntingly restrained, almost everything within was a beguiling listen. This follow-up once again digs for treasure, but comes up with as much fool’s gold as it does dubloons.
Pirates are about as cool as Dappy these days. Two too many Pirates Of The Caribbean films, the global idiot convention of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, the declining fortunes of the Bounty bar: they’ve long since been meme-d into Davy Jones’ locker. So can Johnny Depp, already part of the pirate problem, become part of the solution?Designed to make 50-year-olds wet themselves, the dazzling list of names ‘executive producer’ Depp and real producer Hal Willner have recruited here include Nick Cave, Keith Richards, Courtney Love, Michael Stipe, Tom Waits, Shane MacGowan, Iggy Pop and Beth Orton.
Those familiar with the first Rogue’s Gallery issued back in 2006 might approach news of a follow-up collection, Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys, with a mixture of delight and apprehension. This curious enterprise, the brainchild of Pirates of the Caribbean team — specifically, Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski, and producer Hal Willner — brings the light of day to largely traditional songs of the sea that otherwise might have remained in Davy Jones’ locker. The performers lend a whole new meaning to that familiar title, Various Artists, as the project employs a truly disparate array of talent from the high profile to downright obscure, to provide their personal takes on these songs.
A refreshingly varied voyage, with Tom Waits, Beth Orton and Patti Smith amongst the crew. Patrick Humphries 2013 Avast and haul along the bowline, let loose the topsail and tighten the topgallants… It’s Vol. 2 of one of the oddest collections you’re ever likely to lend your landlubber ears to. In the past, coordinator Hal Willner has supervised tribute albums to Kurt Weill, Leonard Cohen and Walt Disney, but this time he’s back on board with Johnny Depp for another star-studded voyage.
Leave it to producer Hal Willner to lend the term "alternative music" some significance again. As the title implies, Son of Rogues Gallery follows the 2006 Wilner production spearheaded by actor Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, an outgrowth of their work on the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Yes, the 36 mostly traditional tunes on two discs turn on pirates and the sea, but while the songs are folk based, renderings range from spoken word to rock, performed by an incomparable cast of characters including Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Dr.
It’s an interesting conceit: How do you breathe new life into a tradition as old as pirate ballads, sea songs, and chanteys? Producer Hal Willner first explored that realm on 2006’s “Rogue’s Gallery.” For that album’s unnecessary follow-up, Willner enlisted another all-star cast that includes Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Dr. John, and Iggy Pop. You’ve got contributors who look like pirates (Richards and Johnny Depp, who executive-produced the two-disc collection with Gore Verbinksi) and at least two who sing like one (Marianne Faithfull and the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan).