Various Artists

Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys

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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett

Not every song sung at sea is a sea shanty. Shanties are work songs designed to be sung to accompany labor on ships at sea, and they are designed to flow and be sung in the rhythm necessary for the task at hand, a task that may well need timed and unison movement. Sea songs, on the other hand, are songs that chronicle life at sea, and they are generally more narrative and personal, while a pirate song is, well, a song about pirates, or a song sung by pirates. All three of these maritime song styles are represented on this two-disc, 36-track collection, which is an expanded sequel to 2006's Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys, and it's clear that these are songs of utility and personal definition and declaration rather than anything designed to court the pop charts in any fashion. Not that there isn't star power here, because there's plenty of that, but like the first installment, the songs themselves are the true stars. Among the highlights on this fascinating set are Shane McGowan's bleary rendition of "Leaving of Liverpool," Beth Orton's hushed, atmospheric "Bamboo (River Come Down)," a pairing of Tom Waits and Keith Richards on a stirring version of "Shenandoah," and Michael Stipe and Courtney Love's "Rio Grande," along with the only two cuts here that weren't recorded specifically for this project, Frank Zappa's "Wedding Dress/Handsome Cabin Boy" and Marianne Faithfull's "Flandyke Shore," but everything on these two discs fits into the theme and flow.

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