The shanties in this collection were all recorded by Neil J. Young on one day in 1987. All but Roll Alabama Roll were distributed as a cassette for the last ten years. We have digitally remastered the original recordings to produce this version, trying to retain the flavor and spontaneity of the original. This new edition is in response to many requests for a CD version, and is offered as a memorial to our favorite shanty man, Stan Hugill.
1. Highland Laddie: Stan Hugill says this was popular as a walkaway shanty and capstan shantie in the old Dundee Whalers. American versions mostly refer to the northeastern lumber transport.
2. The Black Ball Line: The Black Ball flag spelled hard work, low pay, and tough captains to sailors. To the merchant it meant speedy deliveries from Liverpool to New York. This from A.L.Lloyd and Ewan MacColl.
3. The Rosabella: Who says sailors don't love their work? This certainly seems to imply that they did. Alan got this one from David Jones.
4. Ranzo Trilogy: Three shanties that mention Rueben Ranzo we enjoy linking together are; Reuben Ranzo - Tailors are the brunt of many folk songs. In this longhaul shanty, Reuben the Tailor becomes the captain of a whaler. Stan Hugill says that this one originated from a Sicilian fishermen's song; The Wild Goose Shanty - Apparently there are numerous obscene verses to this song, but this is the partially cleaned up version we like; and Ranzo Ray - The last of our Ranzo trilogy was put together by Jim Mageen. Most of Jim's verses occur in two Ranzo songs in Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas.
5. Mingulay Boat Song: To return to Mingulay in the Hebrides, you must first sail through the rough waters of the strait called "The Minch". A grand song for wrapping up an evening of singing.
6. Shallow Brown: Dick learned this beautiful shanty of Caribbean origin from a floor singer in Newcastle. Jim Mageen assembled the verses in this order from the writing of Stan Hugill.
7. Roll Alabama Roll: British industrialists, responding to the loss of cheep cotton from America during the civil war, had the Confederate steamship, Alabama, built in 1862. She was clandestinely armed in the Azores and went forth to sink many a merchant ship. Her sinking by the Kearsage was witnessed by hundreds of French and English sightseers off Cherbourg on June 19, 1864.
8. The Frisco Ship: Stan Hugill says this was the most used halyard shanty by 1890. It is known by several names and boasts myriad verses in many languages. We like the verses about San Francisco.
9. One More Day: A capstan shanty that Joanna Colcord says is of Black American origin. Probably passed on to sailors by New Orleans stevedores. Alan first heard Suzanne Friend, a fine singer from San Francisco, sing this version.
10. Mars Forevermore: This shanty was written by A.L. Lloyd. Nelson commanded the Agamemnon in 1793. His flagship, the Victory, was joined by the 64 gun Agamemnon and the 74 gun Mars at the battle of Trafalgar, October 21, 1805.
11. Lowlands: This shanty is said to be derived from an ancient Scottish ballad. American versions deal with the low pay and the hazards of being a black New Orleans stevedore.
12. The Hogeye Man: Dick collected all the San Francisco verses he could find for this capstan shanty. Contrary to popular belief, the Sacramento River flat-bottomed barges were not called hogeyes.
13. Away to Hilo: This tops'l halyard shanty refers in part to the nitrate trade from around the Horn to Ilo on the southern coast of Peru. Johnnie, however has had enough and is going back to sea.
14. Across the Western Ocean: During the potato famine, thousands of Irish attempted to immigrate to America. Many never got any further than Liverpool, where unscrupulous captains would set sail with the Irish people's belongings, leaving the people on shore.
15. Seaman's Hymn: When he couldn't find the perfect song to close the BBC tribute to Nelson, A.L. Lloyd wrote this one. We think it is a good theme to end on.