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Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys

3.3 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 22, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

While working on the two "Pirates Of The Caribbean" films, Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski became fascinated with the lore and fable of the pirates and sailors who ran the high seas. Enter legendary producer Hal Wilner, who brings his knack for matching maverick musicians with extraordinary material. Artists on this double disc set include Bono, Sting, Nick Cave, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, and many more. "Rogue's Gallery" offers a look at the hardships, the horrors, the lusts and lurid depths, and the crystal beauty that led men to the sea in ships for hundreds of years.

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Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski hatched the idea for Rogue's Gallery while filming "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"--that idea being to cast genteel rock superstars like Bono, Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, Andre Corr, and Sting to reinterpret gritty seafaring standards for an exhaustive 43-track double-disc set produced by Hal Wilner. Throw in a bunch of credible folk stars (Loudon Wainwright III, Richard Thompson), their offspring (Rufus, Teddy) and a string of other curious characters (Jarvis Cocker, Antony) and what results is one of the strangest compilations in recent memory, if not exactly the most historically authentic or, well, digestible. Nick Cave embraces the role just a little too hard on "Fire Down Below," while Ferry can't help but sound like he's singing for the cast of "The Love Boat," but cut through the chaff and there is some real bootie here: Bono's "Dying Sailor to His Shipmates," Jolie Holland's "The Grey Funnel Line" and "Boney" by a mysterious tramp called Jack Sh**, which must be some kind of anagram for Johnny Depp. --Aidin Vaziri
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 22, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Anti
  • ASIN: B000GGSMD0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,749 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Quirino on November 11, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I was lucky enough to hear this release before I actually bought it and I'm glad I did. Reviews posted here had led me to expect something very lo-fi and unexceptional. Instead, I heard the past echo firmly and enticingly in these songs. Anyone afraid that the recording quality on these performances "blows" should closet their fears immediately. No such problems exist and all is sonically fine (those readers who reported of poor recording quality should have their equipment checked). Anyone also worried that these interpretations aren't special or exciting should grab those misgivings and hang 'em from the yard-arm (Richard Thompson's contribution is as fine as anything he's ever done and certainly deserved being heard thanks to excellent guitar playing). People, let's remember one thing about these ditties: they're NOT Top 40 songs! They're sea chanteys, ballads of longing, or songs designed to take the drudgery out of work tasks. Frankly, not every experiment works. But it succeeds far more often than it fails (which it only does on rare occasion). I especially enjoyed Loudon Wainwright's two songs (though keep the kids away from his Disc 2 contribution as it's very, very filthy!). And listening to the stuff whilst driving home after a hard day in the "salt mines" certainly will put both a smile and a tear on your face. I especially recommend Rogue's Gallery if you're a fan of British folk-rock of the sixites/seventies variety (it would've been really cool to include Fairport Convention's "I'm Already There", a recent sea song the guys recorded celebrating Franklin's ill-fated Arctic sea trip or even the classic "A Sailor's Life"). In short, a special set worth savoring. But definitely not for everyone.
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Format: Audio CD
As someone who has long been interested in folk music, maritime history, and piracy, I was intrigued by this attempt to compile an accessible collection of traditional sea songs, pitched at today's listeners.

'Rogue's Gallery' is certainly a very mixed bag, both in terms of the material selected, and the way in which it is performed. Some of the songs (for example 'Fathom the Bowl') are not especially nautical in flavour, although given the subject matter (in this case, the joys of convivial drinking) they would surely have been sung by seafarers down the centuries. Many of the commentators below have picked up on the fact that most of the treatments fail to reflect the usual requirements of the genre, and are inferior to more 'traditional' interpretations. To my mind, such criticisms miss the point behind this venture. The object was to assemble a motley crew of performers, some of them famous, others less so, and allow them to give their own spin on a batch of hallowed sea songs.

Not surprisingly, the results are variable. To be sure, some the songs are terrible: ironically, shanties that were intended to ease the labours of shipboard life here become very hard work indeed. However, there are many other tracks where the performers come up with original interpretations which not only add something new, but also (and this is surely the real point) stay true to the spirit of the originals.

Of the 'celebrity' contributors, I'd single out Bryan Ferry for his atmospheric renditions of 'The Cruel Ship's Captain', and 'Lowlands Low'. Of the rest, Baby Cramps turns in two excellent tracks ('Cape Cod Girls', and 'Old Man of the Sea'), while Gavin Friday's 'Baltimore Whores' and Joseph Arthur's 'Coast of High Barbary' both convey an authentic sense of menace.
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Format: Audio CD
I agree with many reviews that the eclectic nature of this album has some songs that you will love and others that you will hate. As a Hal Willner production, the many unique artists are free to interpret the shanty songs in a personal and often modern way. My favorite music seems to lie within the spectrum of Americana, folk, country, pop, chill techno, pyscadelic, and alternative rock so this fits right in.

I admit that the songs jump around a bit more than I'd like. Hence, I prefer Willner's second project The Son of Rogue's Gallery for maintaining a more consistent sound that makes it more of an album than a mixed-tape. Tom Wait's rendition of Shenandoah is a standout but all songs are great! With that said, there are still some great songs on this CD from some less-known but still great artists. There's Van Dyke Parks who is always been a quirky guy fascinated with the wide world of music; Akron/Family and John C. Reilly!

Sea Shanties are a really fun genre to get into. I recommend those diehards out there to get the book What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor? Unexpurgated Sea Chanties and for strictly traditional music renditions, you should check out: 1) Classic Maritime From Smithsonian Folkways 2) Blow Ye Winds in the Morning 3) Blow Boys Blow. Enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
There seem to be three types of reviewer making comments on this album. Fans of the film "Pirates of the Caribbean" aren't going to enjoy this much but then it's not really aimed at the Disney audience. Traditional fans of sea chanteys and folk music should be cautious. I can understand a lot of the bad reviews from you guys, especially when there seem to be so many similar, more traditional disks available out there that are most definately not acknowledged in the sleeve notes of Rogue's Gallery, though please give it a chance... you might find out that there's more to music than old beardy guys with one finger in their ear. However, Jo Public Music Lover (like me) should find a lot of great stuff here and because I'm Scottish I don't mind the swearing! (not that there's really as much bad language on this CD as a lot of other reviewers seem to think there is).
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