Tony ONeill of Shire Folk
reviews Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 3 by Collected from John ShortJohn 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.