Look Out!

by White Star Lineup

On the night of April 14th 1912, Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. She sank in the early hours of April 15th, claiming more than 1500 lives; among the dead were over 500 crew whose home was Southampton.

Look Out! is the story of Titanic and Southampton, from her anticipated arrival in the town, through the despair of the tragedy, and the consequences for those left behind.

Central to the story are the crew, particularly Fred Fleet, one of the look-outs on that fateful night. He was the first to see the iceberg, and lived with the memories and repercussions for the rest of his life.

 



Disc 1
1. The Night The Ship Went Down (Hooper)
2. So Many Tears (Henry)
3. The Workhouse Instead (Hooper)
4. Jobs For The Boys (Henry)
5. When Jack Comes Back (Henry)
6. Northam's List pt1 (Wake)
7. Cast Off The Lines (Wake)
8. Just A Girl (Hooper)
9. 21 Knots (Henry)
10. Whiskers Round The Light (Henry)
11. The Band Played On (Wake)
12. Pull Away Girls (Henry)
Disc 2
13. Northam's List pt2 (Wake)
14. Never Seen The Like Of It Before (Hooper)
15. White Star (Wake)
16. The Lady On The Bicycle (Wake/Couling)
17. Southampton Lullaby (Hooper)
18. Say The Word (Henry)
19. Eva's Song (Hooper)
20. Master At Arms (Hooper)
21. An Ordinary Bloke (Wake)
22. Tears Of The Angel (Henry)
23. April In Southampton (Hooper)

Who could tell that the newspaper seller in the centre of Southampton in the 60s had such a prominent role in a pivotal tale in the history of the city? The Night The Ship Went Down

Throughout the centuries, countless ships have left Southampton to all parts of the world, whether for peaceful purposes or in times of war. So Many Tears

At the start of the 20th Century times were hard for the seafaring community of the town. Coal strikes were threatening their livelihood on the ships and options were limited. The Workhouse Instead

The imminent arrival of RMS Titanic signalled hope, the prospect of jobs for years to
come, Jobs For The Boys, and a brighter future for the wives and families left behind. When Jack Comes Back, Northam’s List pt1

At noon on Wednesday April 10th, Titanic pulled away from berth 44, taking with her the hopes and dreams of some 2208 souls. Cast Off The Lines, Just A Girl

After stopping off at Cherbourg and Queenstown, Titanic set course across the North Atlantic, covering 480 miles on her first full day. 21 Knots

For the crew on board on the night of Sunday 14th April 1912, this was apparently going to be just another cold night at sea. Whiskers Round The Light

At 1140 on the evening of Sunday April 14th, tragedy struck, and two and a half hours later she sank, taking 1500 passengers and crew with her. The Band Played On

Tragically only a relative few found places in the lifeboats, and they could only sit, watch and listen. Many of the women helped row the boats to safety. Pull Away Girls

The news of the tragedy slowly filtered through to the streets of Southampton where most of the crew came from. Northam’s List pt2

In rapidly-convened enquiries, the full story of that fateful night was heard in the testimonies of survivors, including Fred Fleet, the look-out who raised the alarm. Never Seen The Like Of It Before

After the enquiries, recriminations surfaced from the  surviving crew who felt they had been treated unfairly by the White Star Line. White Star

Relief funds were set up locally and nationally for the grief-stricken families of the crew who were lost. Miss Newman visited these families in the town, distributing money. The Lady On The Bicycle

For the surviving crew and their families who weren’t able to benefit from the Relief Funds, it seemed that they were worse off, with work still being scarce. Southampton Lullaby

Afterwards, Fred Fleet spent many more years working on ships across the Atlantic and down to South Africa. Say The Word

When Fred eventually gave up the sea for a land-based job, it enabled him to spend more time with Eva - his wife of many years. Eva’s Song

Employed as Shore Master at Arms for Union Castle, Fred Fleet could look back on his life and the years since the disaster. Master At Arms

In the spring of 1912, Fred Fleet had been at the centre of the Titanic tragedy. Fifty years later, the people who buy the Echo from him in Pound Tree Road are oblivious to his past. An Ordinary Bloke

Echoes of the past are not easily erased, and the various memorial around the city, particularly the Engineers Monument presided over by an angel, ensure that the past is never far away. Tears Of The Angel

For Southampton, the story of Titanic is not just about the loss of a ship. It tells of over 500 of her townsfolk, cruelly taken from her, and of the heartbreak and hardship endured by those left behind. April In Southampton

 

The Night The Ship Went Down
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So Many Tears
The Workhouse Instead
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Jobs For The Boys
When Jack Comes Back
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Northam's List pt1
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Cast Off The Lines
Just A Girl
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21 Knots
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Whiskers Round The Light
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The Band Played On
Pull Away Girls
Northam's List pt2
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Never Seen The Like Of It Before
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White Star
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The Lady On The Bicycle
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Southampton Lullaby
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Say The Word
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Eva's Song
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Master At Arms
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An Ordinary Bloke
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Tears Of The Angel
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April In Southampton
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EDS

David Warwick

When I first sang in the clubs in the 1960s, a song in my repertoire was simply entitled 'The Titanic'. It was a jolly, rumbustious, tongue-incheek number: 'It was sad when that great ship went down', sung like some music-hall comedy routine, probably quite inappropriate for the huge tragedy which it chronicled. And maybe that was its appeal, counteracting the dark story within.  (On the internet it's described as a 'campfire favourite'!). Later on, there was the fine comic song, masquerading as the plaintive cry of a polar bear: 'Do you have any news of the iceberg? My mother was on it you see.' I fully expected both to be on this double CD. Neither is.  That's not to say that there isn't a good deal of fine singing and playing on this offering. It's a compilation of songs and tunes (self-penned by the triumvirate of Jeff Henry, Brian Hooper and Barry Wake), which are usually played live, when 'The White Star Line-Up' perform their stage show Look Out!

The clever punning title comes from the story of Fred Fleet, a Southampton mariner, the lookout on the Titanic who was the first to spot the iceberg which sank the 'unsinkable' craft. The second of the CDs deals mainly with his story and the aftermath (he survived).

From the first CD I liked '21 Knots', in the style of a modern shanty, sung a cappella by the male voices; 'Pull Away Girls', a plaintive melody handled skilfully by the three female voices (and with sensitive piano accompaniment by the fourth woman of the group, Vicky Couling). But most of the good work comes from the second CD: 'The Lady on the Bicycle', a compelling tale performed as well as any song I've ever heard; the haunting 'Southampton Lullaby'; 'Say The Word', sung in the manner of a revivalist meeting; and the spirited 'An Ordinary Bloke'.  A result of a great deal of research by its three aforementioned shakers and movers, it borders on the 'wasn't it terrible!' school of documentary writing. But the classy singing (particularly the women) drags it up from that potentially melodramatic level.  The stage show will be touring during the year. Sadly, its narrator Martin Lee, an integral member of the ensemble, passed away in January; doubtless his strong presence will be sadly missed.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

Though the idea of a folk musical based around the story of the Titanic and its connection to Southampton is quite inspirational. I had reservations that there would be sufficient inspiration to sustain the theme over a double album. On first hearing, I was still left with the same impression, as some of the songs seemed to be recycling similar content. However, on repeated playings, the album grows on one's consciousness and one can begin to appreciate the individual parts as well as the whole.

Like the series of `folk operas' from the pen of Mick Ryan and others, this album would be best appreciated in context, i.e. after having seen the whole production live, with the narration to link the songs together. Nevertheless, there is much to be enjoyed amongst the songs composed by Barry Wake, Jeff Henry and Brian Hooper, all members of the 10 strong White Star Line Up, There's good instrumental backing on the tracks, with fiddle, guitar, bass, banjo, whistle & percussion, used sympathetically to accompany the songs. No song has stood out above the rest as my particular favourite, but all are easy listening, and contribute well to the story.

Taplas

Roy Harris

THE WRECK of the Titanic, probably the most famous shipwreck ever, occurred 100 years ago this April. Many of the crew came from Southampton and these CDs put together by White Star Line Up, a group of singers and instrumentalists from the Hampshire area tell the story in song. That it's powerful and poignant, is a tribute to the writers, Jeff Henry, Brian Hooper and Barry Wake, who have researched far and wide to give historical accuracy.

Opening with The Night the Ship Went Down, with its mention of Fred Fleet, a Southampton newspaper seller in the 1960s, who was the crew member who raised the alarm, being first to see the fateful iceberg. Different songs bring facets of the story to life   the town's joy at the jobs the new ship brought and the deep sadness as the news of her fate came through, both expressed in Northam's List Parts 1 &2 The programme ends with Tears of the Angel and April in Southampton both showing that the past is just a memory away. This heart felt production deserves to be widely heard.

Mardles

Mary Humphreys

This is a set of two CDs of 23 newly composed songs written by Jeff Henry, Brian Hooper and Barry Wake for a stage production of Southampton's Titanic story in song. The cast is a Hampshire based group of singers and musicians including multi instrumentalist and vocalist Pete Harris. The songs recreate the story of the sinking of the Titanic on April 14th 1912 and the aftermath for the town's industry and workers.

As you would expect from the subject matter it is not the jolliest of shows but there are some good chorus numbers. Jobs for the Boys could be sung as a standalone number and I especially liked the banjo accompaniment here. There is a particularly good modern shanty 21 Knots sung by the men of the cast.

The first CD deals with the story of the arrival of the Titanic in Southampton, the hope for regular employment that seemed to be associated with it and the tragedy of the maiden voyage. The second CD deals with the economic disaster that hit not just the families of the crew who were lost but of those crew members who survived. Many of the songs are written from the point of view of Fred Fleet the crew member who raised the alarm, survived the disaster and who continued working on ships for many years afterwards. There is an excellent chorus song Say the Word which could escape from the show into independent life in the folk clubs.

As you would expect with WildGoose recordings the production values are first�rate. The only niggle I have is that we don't get told who are the individual singers/musicians on each track, but with only a single fold sleeve insert there was not room for that detail. At �11.99 the 2 CD set is a bargain.

fRoots

David Kidman

White Star Lineup is a group of Hampshire based musicians and singers brought together to tell the story of the night when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Among the dead were over 500 crew whose home was Southampton, and here its county's folk artists commemorate the event's Centenary. This new folk opera relates the events leading up to the tragedy, and then its aftermath, from the viewpoint of the town and the Titanic's crew �including Fred Fleet, the look out who first sighted the iceberg, who lived with the memories and repercussions of the tragedy for the rest of his life.

White Star Lineup has at its nucleus three established and respected local singer songwriters Jeff Henry, Brian Hooper and Barry Wake who share the vocal and guitar leads fairly evenly. The female vocal roles are taken by Ali Campion, Mary Lee and Vicky Couling. The show's instrumental accompaniment falls to the writers themselves, Pete Harris (guitar, banjo, bass, whistle), supplemented where appropriate by violin (Amy Stonehouse) and piano (Vicky Couling).

The songs together form a narrative that after introductory reflections (The Night The Ship Went Down, So Many Tears) paints a lively picture of 1912 Southampton, examines the aspirations of its inhabitants for a brighter future (Jobs For The Boys), then celebrates the arrival in dock of RMS Titanic and its subsequent departure (Cast Off The Lines). The liner's encouraging progress (21 Knots) is followed by tragedy (The Band Played On). The bravery of the women survivors is depicted in Pull Away Girls, following which the remainder of Look Out! deals with the aftermath: the ensuing enquiry (Never Seen The Like Of It Before, White Star), then the plight of the surviving crew and the families of those lost at sea (Southampton Lullaby). The ensuing sequence of songs recounts the personal experiences of Fred Fleet through the post disaster years, after which we're offered two contrasted perspectives for remembrance the official memorial (Tears Of The Angel) and the chokingly simple response of the townspeople themselves (April In Southampton) which are left to resonate in our minds.

Mick Ryan's own folk operas have clearly provided the template for Look Out!, the best of whose songs (Southampton Lullaby, Say The Word, April In Southampton, Just A Girl and Northam's List) all prove both memorable and succinct. The accompanying booklet is supplemented by extra notes and the full song lyrics are available at www.titanicsongs.co.uk.