1 - Whiskey Johnny - (2.15)
An ancient song used to cheer on sailors during long hauling jobs, Whisky Johnny may have started life as a street ballad before it took to the high seas to extol the virtues and lament the consequences of drinking Whisky.
2 - The Light from the Lighthouse - (4.02)
This brilliant song by Bob Zentz is based on a traditional gospel blues song. It celebrates the importance of the lighthouse guiding ships to a safe harbour. The sun has even been known to come out if you sing it loud enough.
3 - Noah's Ark - (2.27)
Collected in 1914 by Cecil Sharp from the famous Captain Hole of Watchet, Somerset. A jolly shanty with some useful plumbing advice.
4 - Shenandoah - (3.21)
First learned and sung in a gay choir in Manchester. A folkier version was later found in the 1931 New Fellowship Songbook and this is the version that we sing. It's a big chorus and a joy to sing.
5 - Ben Backstay - (2.55)
This comical tale of how a despotic bo'sun met his comeuppance through a double whack of grog and a shark off the starboard bow. The singer is careful to point out that Our Captain is a jolly dog.
6 - One More Day - (2.22)
Found in Stan Hugill's bible of shanties whilst in the Yorkshire Dales, miles away from any ocean. We tried the tune on a 1970s Yamaha organ while rain lashed the windows. It all felt very piratey. We like how every couplet rhymes until you get to 'anchor'.
7 - Hog-eye Man - (2.34)
Hugil says this song originated on the railroad, making its way to sea via those who worked on the barges (some known as Hog-eyes). Ours takes favourite parts from a number of different versions. The best bit is the chuff chuff chuff.
8 - Waiting for the Day - (2.40)
A traditional capstan shanty, this version is from the singing of "Skipper" Bob Roberts. It tells the story of adventures encountered on a ship sailing up the East Anglian coast to Hull to collect a cargo of coal.
9 - Sugar in the Hold - (3.44)
As is common in folk music, this version is a mixture of words and tunes from different sources. A song ostensibly about loading cargo on a Mississippi steamboat. Its meaning is open to interpretation!
10 - Bound Down Trinidad - (2.22)
First heard in the centre of Halifax (West Yorkshire not Nova Scotia), sung by the legendary John Bromley. We were drawn to it by its almost spontaneous rhythm. The song is thought to be based on the docks of Trinidad.
11 - Bully in the Alley - (2.49)
Another traditional shanty with many potential meanings. The one we like best is Hank Cramer's, the "Bully" was the sailor that drank too much rum, and would have to be stashed "in the alley"…Something that surely still happens today! .
12 - The Farewell Shanty - (2.58)
There are many versions of the song's history but we know one solid fact: we often sing it as a final song and it's not an easy one to stop singing. Thanks go to Mervyn Vincent and Alan Molyneux for finding it and to all those who sang it into shape along the way.
Recorded by Phil Bulleyment at Edwin Street Studio, Bury, 25th & 26th November 2017.
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