Dr. Jonathan Lighter of Mudcat
reviews Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 3 by Collected from John ShortAll 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!