Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 3

by John Short

Price: £9.99
WGS388CD

This is the third and final CD which records the repertoire of John Short – a.k.a. Yankee Jack – of Watchet, Somerset in England’s West Country, who, in 1914, gave the folk-song collector Cecil Sharp nearly sixty shanties, several in early rare versions. John spent over fifty years working in sailing boats, much of his younger days in deep-water ships, sailing all around the world as a shantyman. He was born in 1839, went to sea with his father when he was nine, went deep sea at eighteen, married and retired from the deep water trade in his mid-thirties, and died at the age of ninety-four, in 1933.



Sharp said of him: “He has the folk-singer’s tenacious memory and… very great musical ability. His voice is rich, resonant and powerful, yet so flexible that he can execute trills, turns and graces with a delicacy and finish that would excite the envy of many a professional artist. Mr. Short has spent more than fifty years in sailing-ships and throughout the greater part of his career was a recognised chanteyman, i.e. the solo-singer who led the chanteys. It would be difficult, I imagine, to find a more experienced exponent of the art of chantey-singing, and I account myself peculiarly fortunate in having made his acquaintance in the course of my investigations and won his generous assistance.”

The principles which guided the recordings were:

A. All John Short’s text and tunes, should be included. For many shanties, he gave Sharp only a verse or so, and so texts have been expanded from a variety of other collected sources.

B. We would not attempt ‘authentic’ renditions – we were in a recording studio, not working a ship. Having made that decision, it allowed for much more variation in treatment; sometimes letting the songs’ roots show; sometimes just enjoying the improvisation Short himself might have employed; sometimes letting the instruments add variety to the totality of the project - but not, we hope, straying too far from the fact that these were work songs.

C. We would allow the lead singer, whoever it was for each track, to create a rendition that they felt comfortable with. Subsequent choruses would utilize selected members of the crew who were on watch at an appropriate time.

The titles of the shanties are given as they were recorded in Cecil Sharp’s field note books. Evidently, John Short did not always give a title – several are better known by the title in brackets. Fuller and more detailed information on each shanty – Short’s specific verses, chorus and musician names per track, version comparisons, how the recordings were arrived at, etc. - can be found on the internet at www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm.

1 Rosabella - Sam Lee 
A John Short original – not published by any of the collectors! Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Lighter for helping us towards this new set of words. I wonder how fast these will spread! See the website for details. 

2 Dead Horse (Poor Old Man) - Keith Kendrick 
This shanty is usually associated with the Dead Horse ceremony, but Short’s text moves rapidly into general ‘female encounter’ verses. Perhaps his version is earlier than the ‘dedicated’ set of words. 

3 Heave Away, My Johnny (We’re All Bound To Go) - Barbara Brown 
A widespread and popular capstan shanty where, with the tune and structure fairly consistent, different texts were used over time. Short sang Banks of the Sweet Dundee. However, the full text of the song would take longer than the longest of tasks – except, perhaps warping along a very long dockside! 

4 Bully In The Alley - Tom Brown 
A rare shanty, although most modern singers seem to know the version that Stan Hugill ‘picked up in the West Indies’. Short’s version has an unusual structure which perhaps betrays its origins as a cotton-screwing chant – Sharp was unsure himself and marks all the stresses in the melody and lead/chorus parts as instructed by Short. Hugill thinks that Short’s version has degenerated – we think it is simply an early form. 

5 Liza Lee (Yankee John Stormalong) - Jim Mageean 
This shanty is sometimes titled Yankee John, Stormalong to distinguish it from Stormalong John and Mister Stormalong. Short used a text which may have an origin in the minstrel song Liza Lee. The entire text is straight from Short - as given to Sharp and Terry. 

6 Hog-eyed Man - Jackie Oates 
Widespread and popular, this is one of the shanties where authors seem to be obsessed about obscenity. Short’s text, however, shows no signs of tampering and we rather like him getting his own nickname into it! 

7 Old Stormey (Mister Stormalong) - Barbara Brown 
The verses provided by Short (and found in many other versions) are the familiar ones concerning Stormy’s death and burial which, nowadays, are most commonly used for General Taylor. This is probably the grandest of the Stormalong shanties. 

8 The Bull John Run (Eliza Lee) - Sam Lee 
Sharp noted this down as 'Bull John' - a mis-hearing and misunderstanding of 'Bulgine'. Short’s text bears only slight relation to the supposed minstrel ‘original’ De History Ob De World, and so additional ‘floating’ verses have been borrowed, but avoiding the excess courting verses of the minstrel song. 

9 Billy Riley - Jeff Warner 
All versions seem fairly consistent and what words there are in Short’s text fit the usual pattern – although neither Sharp nor Terry had heard it other than from Short. It is a shanty that seems to have passed out of common usage relatively early in the evolution of shanties despite its incisive rhythm for hauling to. 

10 Handy My Girls (So Handy) - Keith Kendrick 
A widespread and widely published shanty - with no particular words, and no story lines peculiar to it alone. Our text includes all the verses he sang to Sharp and to Terry – and only two of them were sung to both collectors! 

11 Blow Away The Morning Dew - Jim Mageean 
Short gave one verse to Sharp, but to Terry he gave an additional three verses. The text used here is all from Short via Terry with the addition of the ‘new-mown hay’ verse which also comes straight from The Baffled Knight. 

12 Rando (Reuben Ranzo) - Barbara Brown 
All the collectors give this as a sail-setting halyard shanty. Short sang ‘Rando’ instead of ‘Ranzo’ consistently for both this shanty and The Bully Boat (Ranzo Ray). Barbara has reverted to ‘Ranzo’ for this one. Perhaps it comes down to whether Short had his teeth in or not! (but see the notes to The Bully Boat) 

13 Paddy Works On The Railway - Keith Kendrick 
One of the two shanties (see following track) which seem to relate to the American shore songs Pat Do This, Paddy Works on the Erie, Mick Upon on the Railroad, Song of the Pinewoods and The American Railway. All the verses here are from Short. 

14 He Back, She Back (Old Moke Picking on the Banjo) - Jeff Warner 
The second of the two shanties (see previous track) which are related to the complex of texts, locations, tunes and floating verses cited above and which it is impossible to tease out and give sequence to. Short’s first line is an absolute delight – and a statement about accuracy. See the website for more detailed information. 

15 Round the Corner Sally - Jim Mageean 
Neither Sharp nor Terry had this shanty from any source other than John Short. Stan Hugill credits his published version to 'Harding the Barbadian barbarian'. Nowadays it is widely known from Stan’s version. 

16 Do Let Me Go (Yeller Gals)- Jackie Oates 
Well known in present times with the text that Short used for Round the Corner Sally (previous track). Although Short started with a standard 'merchant’s daughter' verse, his text rapidly becomes the folk song Blow the Candle Out. The broadside text is however edited – the full text could over-fill even the longest of capstan tasks! 

17 Haul Away Joe - Sam Lee 
A shanty that crops up widely and consistently. This version comes from a transitionary period when use was changing from short-haul to (particularly on English ships) more general longer hauling work where the extemporized verses could be endless. 

18 Lowlands (Dollar and a half a day) - Jeff Warner 
Some authors think this shanty was the precursor of the ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ versions - others think the transition was the other way round. In this form, it is purely Negro in origin - from the cotton ports of the South. 

19 Homeward Bound (Goodbye, Fare You Well) - Roger Watson 
Known by sailors the world over, this shanty – full of sentiment and anticipation - was de rigueur when bringing up the anchor to start the voyage home. 

20 Crossing The Bar (Tennyson/Arbo) - Jeff Warner 
This is not, of course, a shanty - nor was it sung by John Short. It is a poem, written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and it was read as part of John Short’s funeral service - it seems entirely appropriate given what we know of the man and his attitudes. Having used it in presentations about John Short, we just couldn't resist including it. This setting is by Rani Arbo of Connecticut. 
Rosabella - Sam Lee
A John Short original – not published by any of the collectors! Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Lighter for helping us towards this new set of words. I wonder how fast these will spread! See the website for details.
Dead Horse (Poor Old Man) - Keith Kendrick
This shanty is usually associated with the Dead Horse ceremony
Sample not available
Heave Away
Sample not available
Bully In The Alley - Tom Brown
A rare shanty
Sample not available
Liza Lee (Yankee John Stormalong) - Jim Mageean
This shanty is sometimes titled Yankee John
Hog-eyed Man - Jackie Oates
Widespread and popular
Sample not available
Old Stormey (Mister Stormalong) - Barbara Brown
The verses provided by Short (and found in many other versions) are the familiar ones concerning Stormy’s death and burial which
Sample not available
The Bull John Run (Eliza Lee) - Sam Lee
Sharp noted this down as 'Bull John' - a mis-hearing and misunderstanding of 'Bulgine'. Short’s text bears only slight relation to the supposed minstrel ‘original’ De History Ob De World
Sample not available
Billy Riley - Jeff Warner
All versions seem fairly consistent and what words there are in Short’s text fit the usual pattern – although neither Sharp nor Terry had heard it other than from Short. It is a shanty that seems to have passed out of common usage relatively early in the evolution of shanties despite its incisive rhythm for hauling to.
Sample not available
Handy My Girls (So Handy) - Keith Kendrick
A widespread and widely published shanty - with no particular words
Blow Away The Morning Dew - Jim Mageean
Short gave one verse to Sharp
Sample not available
Rando (Reuben Ranzo) - Barbara Brown
All the collectors give this as a sail-setting halyard shanty. Short sang ‘Rando’ instead of ‘Ranzo’ consistently for both this shanty and The Bully Boat (Ranzo Ray). Barbara has reverted to ‘Ranzo’ for this one. Perhaps it comes down to whether Short had his teeth in or not! (but see the notes to The Bully Boat)
Sample not available
Paddy Works On The Railway - Keith Kendrick
One of the two shanties (see following track) which seem to relate to the American shore songs Pat Do This
Sample not available
He Back She Back
Round the Corner Sally - Jim Mageean
Neither Sharp nor Terry had this shanty from any source other than John Short. Stan Hugill credits his published version to 'Harding the Barbadian barbarian'. Nowadays it is widely known from Stan’s version.
Sample not available
Do Let Me Go (Yeller Gals)- Jackie Oates
Well known in present times with the text that Short used for Round the Corner Sally (previous track). Although Short started with a standard 'merchant’s daughter' verse
Haul Away Joe - Sam Lee
A shanty that crops up widely and consistently. This version comes from a transitionary period when use was changing from short-haul to (particularly on English ships) more general longer hauling work where the extemporized verses could be endless.
Sample not available
Lowlands (Dollar and a half a day) - Jeff Warner
Some authors think this shanty was the precursor of the ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ versions - others think the transition was the other way round. In this form
Sample not available
Homeward Bound (Goodbye
Sample not available
Crossing The Bar (Tennyson/Arbo) - Jeff Warner
This is not
Sample not available

Pete Fyfe

PETE FYFE

So here I am, sitting in Fyfe Mansions (OK, my flat in Croydon) with a strong South-Westerly lashing against my window panes eating a Tuna sandwich (I know I shouldn't but it's the only fish I like) and even David Dimbleby going on about a �stormy outlook ahead�. How suitable then to be writing a review of this, the third and final in the series of Wild Goose Recordings �Short Sharp Shanties�.

All hail the foresight of Doug Bailey in enlisting a cosmopolitan crew including Keith Kendrick, Tom & Barbara Brown, Jim Mageean, Jeff Warner, Sam Lee, Roger Watson and Jackie Oates for, as Bailey explains in his sleeve notes this not a vanity project and by adding musical accompaniment including contributions from that well-known salty dog Brian Willoughby on guitar it opens the interpretations for a free flowing, spirited performance that will suit the general public and not just the die-hard acapella traditionalist.

It must have been an interesting process choosing who sings what but at the end of the day all of the songs including popular standards �Dead Horse�, �Do Let Me Go�, �The Bull John Run� (at least under their modern-day titles) are given a sprucing up and, as I've mentioned before become somewhat more consumer friendly. Over the past two or three years I must admit to having been very seriously seduced by the call of the sea and this set of three albums (there are 20 tracks here) are all worth purchasing by any self-respecting Shanty singer and those that just wish they were.

Mudcat

Dr. Jonathan Lighter

All three CDs are beautifully done. Every performance is a delight.

After Stan Hugill, John Short undoubtedly influenced the shanty revival more than any other source singer - and since he was never recorded, few people realize it!

His repertoire of some 60 shanties, all learned between 1848 and 1880, significantly fits right in with Alden's estimate in the 1880s that a good shantyman knew roughly that many.

Short told both Cecil Sharp and Richard Runciman Terry that the shanties usually had only two or three regulation verses, after which you began to invent or mix and match. That squares perfectly with the usually brief performances that James M. Carpenter recorded from Short's contemporaries in the late '20s. The CD singers (male and female) have fleshed out Short's verses with some from Hugill and elsewhere. In some cases they came up with a few their own, but hardly anyone will be able to tell these from the real McCoy. That shows how well they've mastered their material.

Rather than strive for an authentic shipboard sound, the performances are in the middle-of-the-road revival style. The all-acoustic instrumental backups seem just right. (Think Lloyd and MacColl's "Blow Boys Blow" and "A Sailor's Garland.")

A major contribution to the core of must-have revival albums. Tom Brown and his crew deserve our gratitude. Great work all around!

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

This CD is the last one of the 3 volume series from a joint project by S & A Projects and Wild Goose Records. They feature the repertoire of John Short ('Yankee Jack') of Watchet, Somerset which comprised of nearly 60 shanties collected by Cecil Sharp in 1914.

Including the 'bonus track' there are 20 songs on this album ably performed again by the resident 'crew' who are Jim Mageean, Keith Kendrick, Jackie Oates, Roger Watson, Sam Lee, Brian Willoughby, Jeff Warner, Doug Bailey and Tom and Barbara Brown. The opening track is misleading because it begins with some natty guitar work, from Brian Willough, that doesn't sound like an accompaniment to a shanty at all! However, Sam Lee then vocalises with a very unusual and interesting version of 'Rosabella'.

This opening song leads the way to the other original versions of many well known shanties including 'Dead Horse (Poor Old Man)' bellowed out appropriately by Keith Kendrick, 'Heave Away, My Johnny (We're All Bound To Go)' liltingly sung by Barbara Brown followed by a version of my least favourite shanty 'Bully in the Alley' but even so very well rendered by Tom Brown. Jim Mageean is up next with 'Liza Lee (Yankee John Stormalong)' then comes Jackie Oates with 'Hog-eyed Man' which, considering her lighter voice, she sings with some gusto. Later on in the album Jackie sings 'Do Let Me Go', a version of 'Yeller Gals' which, I have to say, doesn't really work. I always feel that this shanty needs to be belted out and the quieter arrangement together with her lovely but sweeter voice doesn't do it for me.



Jeff Warner, as in the previous albums, brings a nice American dimension to the album especially with 'He Back, She Back (Old Moke Picking On A Banjo)' where he also demonstrates his excellent banjo playing. His accapella version of 'Lowlands (Dollar and a Half a Day)' is also a very interesting alternative to the better known version. Jeff also brings the album to a close with 'Crossing the Bar' but not until Roger Watson has had his say with another unusual version this time of 'Homeward Bound (Goodbye, Fare You Well)'.

This last point really sums up the whole purpose of the project which is to bring hitherto unknown versions of many of our best known shanties and sea songs to a wider public. In that respect the project has been a resounding success and I'm sure that every enthusiast of shanties and sea songs will eventually obtain the complete set of these inspirational albums.

As I have mentioned in my review of volume 1 in a previous issue of FolkNW full details of the songs, the artistes and more information on John Short can be found at www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm . Also, Short Sharp Shanties with most of the 'crew' will be on tour in October this year so look out for it.

Folk Monthly

Bob Bignell

Let me say from the outset that I did not think I would like this CD. I have nothing against shanties or sea songs, in fact they were part of my initial introduction to live folk music, but I prefer mine to be in a live singing environment, led by an accomplished shanty master (if that's what they're called, although their title doesn't really matter) among a group of like minded souls, preferably in licensed premises and accompanied by a foaming pint or three  that's not too much to ask, is it? Sessions in the Falcon in Bromyard with Johnny Collins and Jim Mageean back in the 70s are part of my fondest memories in a life full of fond memories but on a CD performed in a recording studio environment... well it don't seem right, do it?

I was, however, pleasantly surprised and I am sure you will be too. So surprised in fact that I have a hankering to go out and buy the previous two volumes, especially after spending time reading both the excellent sleeve notes and the accompanying website www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm The project, organised by Tom and Barbara Brown, seeks to bring together the singing of Yankee Jack, John Short of Watchet in Somerset as collected by Cecil Sharp. The project organisers, acknowledging that the songs are not being performed in their natural environment, have allowed a certain amount of improvisation and, where only a couple of verses of a song were included in Sharp's notes, have used other versions of the same song to �pad out� the Short/Sharp version.

They have also permitted instruments to be used by the performers but not, as in other recordings I have heard of shanties and sea songs, (Bellowhead's version of New York Girls comes to mind) allowed the instruments to take anything away from the fact that these were work songs. I am sure some of my shanty aficionado friends are going to tell me that New York Girls is not a work song but, hey, I use it mainly to make a point. So ...lighten up!

Speaking of performers, there are some fine examples on the CD ....the aforementioned Tom and Barbara Brown and Jim Mageean as well as Jeff Warner, Keith Kendrick, Jackie Oates, Roger Watson, Sam Lee, Brian Willoughby and Doug Bailey. I don't feel the need to review individual tracks here, save to say that the songs are all well known and their performance, by accomplished artists, is exceptional.

In all, an excellent album to which, as I say, I shall be adding the two previous volumes and I thoroughly recommend that you do the same. I might also fork out for the forthcoming book and try to take in the short live tour which I understand will be coming up in October of this year.

Shire Folk

Tony ONeill

John Short of Watchet was born in 1839 and spent some fifty years at sea, first with his father aged nine, going deep sea at

eighteen and after getting married in his thirties retiring to the coastal trade. He died at 92, in 1933.

This is the third CD of three that Tom and Barbara Brown (aka: S&A Projects) have produced in a multi faceted project to bring John Short into the daylight of public attention, incorporating the nearly sixty shanties of 'Yankee Jack' as noted down by Cecil Sharp in 1914. Tom and Barbara are keen to point out that these are not 'authentic' renditions (ie: for working a ship) and that they have allowed the lead singer (some not known for their shanty singing) of each track to adapt the song to their own style, with subject  sensitive and appropriate musical backing in some cases. This allows for a more relaxed production made more approachable for non shanty afficionados. I particularly liked the 'swing' interpretation by Sam Lee of 'Rosabella' which nicely introduces the listener to a more open way of hearing shanties.

There are 20 tracks with 19 shanties, both familiar and rare, some with variations of the more widely known tunes, and a bonus track 'Crossing the Bar', which was the only non shanty collected by Cecil Sharp. This was said to be John Short's favourite folk song, and again is just a little different from the more widely known version, but none the worse for that.

The presentation is up to Doug Bailey's usual good standard, and includes a booklet with photographs of the performers (and John Short) and explanatory notes for each of the tracks.

Mardles

Mary Humphreys

This is tha last of a series of recordings masterminded by Tom & Barbara Brown. All sixty of the songs communicated to Cecil Sharp in 1914 by the Watchet shantyman John Short ( a.k.a. Yankee Jack) have been recorded by a crew of performers of the highest order including Sam Lee, Jackie Oates, Jim Mageen, Jeff Warner, Keith Kendrick, Roger Watson and of course Tom and Barbara Brown.  It is only by looking at the extremely useful supplementary notes published on Tom & Barbara's website - essential viewing to get the full information about this project -  that we discover the amazingly inventive guitarist used on some of the tracks is none other than Brian Willoughby of the Strawbs . He gets no credits on the sleeve notes - what an omission!

First impressions from the album cover and its tracklist are that we have here a superb resource for any respectable shanty group. However the treatment of the songs by the individual performers is anything but uniform. An interesting inclusion to the crew is Sam Lee, not hitherto known for his shanty singing . He "swings" his songs - particularly the Rosabella where he is joined by Brian Willoughby on guitar - one of the most delightful accompaniments on the whole CD.  I am not so sure about Sam's rendition of  Bull John Run, which departs rather distantly from the tune in a rather jazzy interpretation. Fortunately the chorus keeps it from departing the genre completely. Haul Away Joe is reassuringly much more what we expect from a shanty but Sam's light, almost crooning vocal style  doesn't convince as much as that of the others who appear on the album.

Jim Mageen,Keith Kendrick and Tom Brown all well-known as shanty singers have the open-throated style to which we have become accustomed in festivals and folk clubs. The squeezeboxes (played superbly by Keith and by Roger Watson) are sensitively and economically used. I particularly loved Keith's Anglo concertina accompaniment to Paddy Works On The Railway which has the lightest of touches on the octave mandola by Tom Brown and Jackie Oates' lovely fiddle variations.

Jeff Warner, who sings several American shanties deserves special mention.  Billy Riley is both short and sharp and a superb example of shanty singing as it might have been done on board ship. It builds up from free rhythm to a good hauling beat.  His sparkling banjo playing on his shanty He Back, She Back is spellbinding. The CD is worth buying just for this track.

It is always interesting to hear women singing shanties, as it is most unlikely they were ever sung on board by females ( unless they sneaked on board dressed as boys?) . Barbara Brown makes light of this incongruity and gives a superb rendition of the shanties she is allocated. One could believe the tracks she gives us were sung by a rather youthful sailor whose voice hadn't quite broken. Not so Jackie Oates whose rather lighter timbre of voice could never be mistaken for that of a boy. Her rendition of the verses of Hog-eye Man sounds refreshingly innocent ( inspite of the text) and is a superb contrast with the racucous chorus which is more reminiscent of the usual shanty crew rendition. It was a new experience to hear her singing to Jeff Warner's banjo picking. It is like a sorbet course after a heavy main course - beautifully light and leaving one ready for more shanties. That is good programming!

The last shanty track on this CD is so poignant - Roger Watson performing Homeward Bound, with the refrain Goodbye Fare You Well. It is probably the last recording he made before his enforced retirement for health reasons. It is a fitting finish to an astoundingly productive and inventive life involved in all things folk.

There is a bonus track - a song of John Short's sung by Jeff Warner Crossing the Bar. Beautiful.

It was good to hear the whole CD and I would recommend the album to all shanty singers not just for the repertoire but for some of the best renditions I have heard. Good old WildGoose Studios - where else could this project have been so well recorded?

The Living Tradition

Clare Button

Back in 1914, a man named Cecil Sharp met a man named John Short, and the world of shanties became a hell of a lot richer. Short's nickname was Yankee Jack, he had sailed around the world as a shantyman, and Sharp collected nearly sixty shanties from him, many in rare versions. This is the third and last volume in this (brilliantly titled) collection, which sees a hearty crop of fine traditional singers putting their own slants on Short's repertoire.

There is a fine mix of voices and styles: no nonsense, straight down the line treatments from stalwart shanty singer from the North East of England, Jim Mageean, and raucous voiced Derbyshire gem Keith Kendrick; American flavours from renowned US singer Jeff Warner; and fabulously off kilter interpretations from polymath extraordinaire Sam Lee. It's also good to see female singers being represented in the typically male shanty domain. Barbara Brown's darkly powerful voice is perfectly suited to grime and brine, while Jackie Oates adds a charming, if incongruous, prettiness to lines like �Mary Ann and Sarah Jane / is the two biggest whores on Whitemoor Lane� (Hog Eye Man). Lesser known shanties like Billy Reilly and Blow Away The Morning Dew haul away alongside their more popular counterparts, such as Homeward Bound and the Bull John Run (although you'll never have heard it done like Sam Lee!).

Yet behind the rambunctious choruses chimes a poignant note: the recordings are dedicated to renowned shantyman Johnny Collins, who died in 2009 and �who was to have been part of this project�. And a mighty fine contribution he'd have made too   but I think he'd be pretty chuffed with what his singing cohorts have done here. Don't just get this CD, get all three!

EDS

Jacqueline Patten

This is the third and final CD of a project inspired by the collection of shanties noted by Cecil Sharp in 1914 from John Short, also known as Yankee Jack, a sailor and shanty man from Watchet, Somerset. Together the three CDs comprise nearly sixty shanties.

Although recorded in a studio as opposed to a more authentic setting, the atmosphere and feel of shanty singing in situ is skilfully evoked by the performers.

If the project had only made John Short's songs more readily available it would have been worthwhile, but it has done much more than that: it has brought to life what has lain mostly dormant on dry paper for a century.  Every performer is worth their salt and each rendition is one that would, no doubt, have delighted Yankee Jack, whose voice was described as being rich, resonant and powerful with a delicate execution of 'trills, turns and graces'.

There are versions of well-known shanties as well as some that are hardly known. What might not be expected is the variety, with gently lilting tracks like the opening one, 'Rosabella' sung by Sam Lee, rousing ones such as 'Bully in the Alley' led by Tom Brown, and those with a bouncy feel like 'Blow Away The Morning Dew' sung by Jim Mageean. With Barbara Brown and Jackie Oates among the 'crew' of shanty singers, female voices give another welcome dimension.

The 'various artists' are Jim Mageean, Jeff Warner, Keith Kendrick, Jackie Oates, Roger Watson, Sam Lee, Brian Willoughby, Tom and Barbara Brown and Doug Bailey. As well as their fine solo voices, they provide excellent chorus singing and harmony, while their instrumental skills are used to great effect. At a time of increasing interest in shanty singing this project is both timely and excellent.  

Congratulations are due to all involved.

Whats Afoot

Carol Henderson Begg

I would encourage you to listen to this, the final volume of this 3 album project based on the shanties remembered by John Short, also known as Yankee Jack. John hailed from Watchet on the North Somerset Coast. He was born in 1839 and first went to sea with his father when he was nine years old, his sailing career spanning over fifty years. He sailed all round the world as a shanty man, in his younger days working on deep water ships. He died in 1933 at the grand old age of 92. In 1914 John was visited by Cecil Sharp and gave him nearly sixty shanties, several in early rare versions, of which these are the final twenty.

Shanties tend to be repetitive out of necessity as they were working songs, but there is enough variety here to keep the listener interested and the imagination alive. Rosabella makes for a good introduction, the lead singers set their own interpretations, and the chorus singers introduce some fine harmonies when appropriate. No self respecting sailing ship would have entertained a woman shanty singer on board, but the renditions by Barbara Brown and Jackie Oates add to the enjoyment of this project, and I love the idea of Jackie being chosen to sing Hog eyed Man. Musically of course, Shanties, by their very nature, were normally unaccompanied work songs so the instrumentation in these recordings needed to add variety for the listener but not detract from this fact. I enjoyed hearing the concertina, violin, banjo or guitar adding feeling to the song, enhancing but not overwhelming the words.

The final song, Crossing the Bar, is not a shanty, but a favourite folk song of John Short, who used to sing it on board ship. It adds a different dimension to the collection and is a fitting finale to this final volume, that definitely grows on you'.

Folk London

Ivan North

This is the last of three CDs which recorded the repertoire of John Short (Yankee Jack) of Watchet, Somerset, who gave Cecil Sharp nearly sixty shanties. He was born 1839, went to sea with his father when he was nine, went deep sea at eighteen, married and retired from the deep water trade in his mid thirties. He died in 1933. Artists on this CD are Sam Lee, Keith Kendrick, Barbara Brown, Tom Brown, Jim Mageean, Jackie Oates, Jeff Warner, and Roger Watson.

There are twenty tracks and there were certain principles which guided the recordings. All John Short's text and tunes have been included in the recordings. Fragments have been expanded from collected sources. Improvisation and instruments have been allowed and the lead singer was allowed discretion in the rendition. Shanties are normally performed unaccompanied with a lead singer and strong, (male) chorus. Although many of the tracks are in this format, some are recorded as songs with instrumental accompaniment and others have a female lead. The end result is that it leads to variety of presentation. Most of the shanties are well known, but there are also several unusual versions.

Sam Lee treats Rosabella as a song and provides guitar backing. Keith Kendrick gets to bellow out Dead Horse with male chorus, but gives Paddy on the Railway in six eight time, jogging along with concertina and fiddle accompaniment. Tom Brown has only one shanty   a `standard' version of Bully in the Alley. Barbara Brown does Old Stormey and Ranzo in the same way. She is more adventurous with Heave Away, My Johnny using this as a chorus to the song The Banks of the Sweet Dundee with concertina and mandolin accompaniment. Jackie Oates gives us The Hogs Eye Man with male chorus and sings Yeller Girls breathily, with banjo accompaniment. Jeff Warner's Lowlands Away is an unusual version, unaccompanied. Roger Watson gives a lively version of Homeward Bound together with chorus and lead melodeon.

This way of presentation gives more variety and leads to a more entertaining CD, but presumably would not suit the purist. I have not seen the two other CDs in the trilogy so do not know their contents, but this CD stands by itself.

Taplas

Roy Harris

HOW'S this for a cast? Jim Mageean, Jeff Warner, Keith Kendrick, Jackie Oates, Roger Watson, Sam Lee, Brian Willoughby, Tom Brown, Barbara Brown, Doug Bailey. A lively crew, who make the most of the opportunities given them on this album subtitled Sea Songs of a Watchet Sailor.

John Short (1839 1933) a sailor for over 50 years gave Cecil Sharp close to 60 shanties in 1914.Tom and Barbara Brown became interested and realised the songs were well worth bringing back to life. Wild Goose Records boss Doug Bailey agreed and a series of albums was launched, of which this is the last. Short's versions date from a long way back, so while the title may seem familiar, the tunes and some of the words are significantly different to their namesakes.

I can't recommend this too highly. The producers have given the singers free rein to make their own arrangements. The results are surprising and pleasing in equal measure throughout.

Bright Young Folk

Mark Dishman

The third and final volume of Short Sharp Shanties � songs Cecil Sharp collected from Somerset singer John Short � rounds off the series nicely.

Shanties by their nature are a little repetitive, so the compilation's variety of arrangements is welcome.  Rosabella is a lovely introduction: Sam Lee's rendition is lit up by some bright harmonies and lively acoustic guitar.

It's easy to imagine some of the songs being sung as ropes are hauled about by sinewy sailors.  Keith Kendrick � who has a little of Mike Waterson about him � puts in some lusty performances.  Jim McGeean [sic] has a pleasingly accented delivery, too: his rendition of Liza Lee is infectiously catchy, delivered with a bouncy concertina accompaniment.

But it's far from a blokey ensemble.  Barbara Brown sings with authority and Jackie Oates is luminescent as usual.  She puts her all into a lusty performance of Hoy-eyed Man.  It's still rather a surprise to hear her accusing �Mary-Anne and Sarah-Jane� of being �the two biggest whores in White Moor Lane�, though her delivery is rather sweeter on Do Let Me Go.

There's a nice mixture of familiar and less well-known songs.  Lee's rendition of The Bull John Run is unexpectedly jazzy and it's unusual to hear a shanty version of Bully in the Alley, thought the latter is a little wearing � the listener might be glad of a captain's instruction to help pass the time.

But such a comprehensive series is bound to have a few peaks and trough, and there are plenty more gems to discover: some nifty banjo on Jeff Warner's He Go, She Go, Lee's sturdy delivery of some salty content on Haul Away Joe, and a suitably mournful Lowlands.  It's an enjoyable, varied listen, great source material, and a fitting conclusion to an impressive tribute to Short � and Sharp.

Fatea

David Kidman

This is the final excellent instalment of the ambitious three-disc project recording the repertoire of John Short of Watchet, who in 1914 gave Cecil Sharp nearly 60 shanties.  Employing the same team as the previous two discs in the series, volume 3 is characterised by both the consistently gutsy, brilliantly spirited singing (from Jim Mageean, Keith Kendrick, Tom & Barbara Brown, Jeff Warner, Jackie Oates, Sam Lee and Roger Watson) and the intriguing version of often very familiar shanties, many of these being early and pre-Hugill variants.

This disc's renditions of such shantyman's staples as Bully In The Alley and Lowlands are nothing short (no pun intended) of revelatory, and the sense of discovery and commitment in these vital performances is palpable.  An entirely justified modicum of crisply-recorded instrumentation is utilised on a number of tracks, including two of the three Sam Lee-led contributions (a delightfully Caribbean Rosabella and a jauntily syncopated Bull John Run), Jeff Warner's He Back, She Back (Old Moke) and Jim Mageean's Blow Away The Morning Dew; the remainder of the selections are done acappella, and with tremendous gusto and sense of enjoyment.  I swear I've never heard these folks sing better � just feel the power and conviction of Barbara Brown's Old Stormey, Jeff Warner's Billy Riley, Keith Kendrick's Dead Horse (to pick just three highlights).  And those who might consider the dulcet tones of Jackie Oates less than appropriate for shanties should take a listen to her startlingly charismatic rendition of Hog-eyed Man!

The disc also appends a bonus track, Crossing the Bar (the only non-shanty that Sharp collected from Short); it's sung here by Jeff Warner, who presumably had no choice but to adopt Rani Arbo's wonderful setting (which, of course, wouldn't have been around when Short �often used to sing it on board ship�).  My comment about the illogical fadeout of a couple of tracks applies to this volume, otherwise I've no quibbles whatsoever with this CD.

Together the three discs form arguably the most important shanty-related releases of the past few years, and one with a good appeal to with shanty specialists too.  And yes, once you've heard just on of the three discs you'll definitely want to collect the entire set!

Tykes News

Jim Lawton

This is the last volume in Tom & Barbara Brown's project to bring the entire shanty repertoire of John Short of Watchet, as collected by Cecil Sharp in 1914, to the public. Once again we have a wonderful selection of shanties, combining the authenticity of Short's source material, fleshed out where necessary, with the freshness of arrangement and delivery created by some of the most solid and competent singers you could wish to find .

The titles on this CD seem to fall a little more into familiar territory than perhaps those on the previous albums did, but you shouldn't draw any conclusions from this. Each track has novel features which in some cases almost create a new song, as in "Bully In The Alley", and in others because the lead singer's voice (Jackie Oates on "Hog eyed Man") or the backing harmonies ("Old Stormey") create new and irresistible "hooks". My experience of this CD has been, first to stumble slightly as expected familiarities of rhythm, tempo or narrative aren't fulfilled, and then to appreciate what has been done, and finally to feel the onset of new addictions.

So this is not only a special treat for anyone with an interest in shanties and sea songs but, because of the variety of brilliant singing and arrangements, both robust and sensitive   and sometimes at the same time, this should appeal to everyone who enjoys the human voice raised in song.

So congratulations to Tom and Barbara Brown for bringing the project to a successful conclusion, and to the other artists   Jim Mageean, Jeff Warner, Keith Kendrick, Jackie Oates, Roger Watson, Sam Lee, Brian Willoughby and Doug Bailey for creating something outstanding.

For more information on the project, the songs, and the artists, go to .