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Blow Boys Blow

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Blow Boys Blow
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Audio CD, September 3, 1996
$17.00 $7.25
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Editorial Reviews

From the Label

BLOW, BOYS, BLOW is a full and rousing selection from folk heroes Ewan McColl (whose resume included author, playwright, actor, street singer, and laborer) and A.L. Lloyd (who, among other things, sang as the "Shantyman" in the movie version of MOBY DICK). Sung to ease the back-breaking work and fill up the long and lonely nights with rowdy and profane entertainment, the songs are fierce, rough, sublime and full of longing. Detailed liner notes by A.L. Lloyd are included.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 3, 1996)
  • Original Release Date: 1957
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tradition Records
  • ASIN: B0000058QN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,864 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael C. Molloy on December 4, 1999
Format: Audio CD
One of my favorite of MacColl's records. Only the fact that about half the songs are by A.L. Lloyd, who I don't like as much, makes this a four-star review, instead of five. A lot of sea-shanty cds are pretty sappy stuff; they sound like they're some guy's idea of what sea shanties should sound like. This record sounds like someone singing excellent songs. Is this an authentic version of sea shanties? Beats me, since I never was on a 19th-Century sailing ship; but it sure is a good cd.
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Format: MP3 Music
This is, by far, the best collection of seas shanties that I have found. Sea Shanties are a really fun genre to get into! They are classic, old, authentic songs about life of the sea - sometimes humorous, often tragic. What sets this collection apart is the authentic recording value, which is rough around the edges like a true sailor!

Although I stand to prefer combination of traditional voices and instrumentation of this album over that of say, the Smithsonian Folkway's collection, I think that its CD jacket could be better if it provided historical context. If you are interested in the stories that go along with the songs, thankfully there is What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor? Unexpurgated Sea Chanties A great complement to this already substantial body of folk heritage.
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Format: Audio CD
I grew up with the record version of this CD and wore out the grooves. It's gutsy, real and sometimes very odd. No wonder Frank Zappa owned a copy (he lent it to Captain Beefhart who never returned it). This what folk music used to be all about --the thoughts and feelings of working people, rarely pretty but always beautiful.
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Format: Audio CD
I have loved this recording ever since my dad played it for me as a child. Ewan MacColl has an amazing way of drawing you into these classic, old sea songs. His style is spare, like the tough, old sailors he evokes, yet his voice can make you shiver. Both the humorous and the tragic stories of life at sea can be found in these songs, and they stay with you for a long time.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorite albums, ever. It's stood the test of time, rising in my estimation as the years have passed. These are authentic sea chanties, and you can almost feel the lonliness and danger shared by those who put to sea and sang about it. Musically, the ballads are sung solo, with a chorus of several voices, backed by simple instruments. The songs and the delivery by Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd are haunting. My own ecletic musical tastes run from the blues of Lonni Johnson to Janice Joplin, John Coletrane, the New Lost City Ramblers, and Bach. Blow Boys Blow belongs in that company! If you are new to this type music, give it a few listens, and imagine the lives of those who manned whalers and merchant ships in the days before steam power.
--John Blackford
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Format: Audio CD
This compilation of shanties and sailor songs is far superior to any collection I have ever heard. The combination of the traditional voices and instrumentation, coupled with the unvarnished, authentic lyrics makes this recording stand out clearly as the "real deal" and in a different league than the ubiquitous folksy shanty recordings that sound artificial and wimpy. A.L. Lloyd handles most of the lead vocals and really carries the whole show. All of the songs on "Blow Boys Blow," despite their rough authenticity, burn with excellent melodic and rhythmic brio. A must-buy.
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Format: Audio CD
Sea chanties may be the purist and richest form of work song extant today and there are a large number of CDs of performances of this very traditional kind of song. Four of the very best are:

`Blow the Man Down' by eleven different voices, one of which is a group, The Watersons.

`Blow Boys Blow' sung by Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd

`Sailors, Ships, and Chanteys' by Louis Killen

`Blow the Winds in the Morning' choral interpretations directed by John Langstaff

The best thing about this selection is that in spite of the great similarity in the names of the albums, there is practically no overlap in selections. There is some difference in style among the four, as chanteys may be performed with a solo voice, a chorus, or alternating between a solo voice and chorus.

The last of these three styles is probably the most traditional, as it is closest in realization to how chanties were actually used, as a means of coordinating the efforts of a large number of men contributing their muscle power to a single task such as raising an anchor or raising or lowering a large sail boom.

The first of these four CDs is a mix of all styles. The second is primarily solos by the two principle artists. The third is a combination of solos and responsive singing, the chorus being supplied by a group playfully named `The Out-of-Shape Chanteymen' The fourth is largely choral interpretations.

As appropriate to what one would find on a wind powered ship, the instrumental accompanyment is typically no more than a banjo, guitar, mandoline, or concertina.
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