Jacqueline Patten of EDS
reviews Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 3 by Collected from John ShortThis 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.