FolkWords Reviews

‘Danger’ from Swinging The Lead - originals steering comfortably alongside tradition

(July 14, 2015)

Built on the Clyde in 1869, ‘Cutty Sark’ is one of the last and fastest tea clippers before sails gave way to steam, and now she lives in dry dock at Greenwich, spending her days as a living maritime museum. However, ‘Cutty danger - swinging the lead 001Sark’ also has a resident band, they are Swinging the Lead, not only resident shanty singers on ‘Cutty Sark’ but also the Thames Sailing Barge 'Edith May' and regular performers at Harwich and Deal Maritime Festivals.

And for your delight they have released their second album ‘Danger’, which for a band that effuses anything but danger is an interesting title, perhaps ‘Friendly Pint in a Comfortable Pub’ might be more apposite. However, gentle ridicule aside it’s a fine, highly listenable collection of seafaring songs.

The band is Dave Webb, Pete Brooker, Joe Whittaker, Colin Turner and Stephen Skey linked by a common appetite for all things maritime - music, historic ships and sailing. The result is shanties mixed with folk and a fair degree of eclecticism - exactly what the quartermaster called for, with originals steering comfortably alongside tradition. Rather than more obvious unaccompanied shanty vocies, Swinging The Lead add guitars, violin, harmonica, mandolin, mandola and bass into the mix and what you get is precisely what it is – a bunch of old (ish) guys having a riot. Their scope covers tradition with ‘Long Time Ago’, ‘Old Maui’ and ‘Paddy Lay Back’, rearranged versions such as ‘Haul Away Joe’ and ‘Haal ‘em Maar Mee’ and originals with Brooker’s ‘The New World Calls’ and Webb’s ‘Woolwich Ferry’ and ‘Pop Pirates’ plus covers of songs from notable exponents of the maritime song.

‘Danger’ from Swinging the Lead is released on Talking Elephant.

Review: Charlie Elland

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