Tom and Barbara Brown’s new album Beyond the Quay is
made up of sea songs
Tom and Barbara Brown are old friends, and I’m very pleased that they should should put out a CD of sea-songs. Songs connected with the sea have been out of fashion around the folk scene’s clubs and festivals for far too long in this country.
Interestingly, even though I’ve recently heard the claim that sea shanties are the new Rock’n’Roll, there are none here. Instead, this CD is full of songs about ships, ports, sailors, and of course heroes and villains. Most are traditional and most belong to the West Country.
Tom and Barbara’s performances are marked by some very effective harmony singing, of which there are two excellent examples here: Young Susan and a version of The Death of Nelson to a tune learned by the couple from traditional source singer George Dunn of Staffordshire, with additional verses from the broadside ballad.
Another aspect of this disk that I particularly like is that it includes a very nice but less well known version of one of my favourites, The Bold Princess Royal. Tom’s version from Bristol is much harder to sing than the one I know from Sam Larner – so much so that he gets extra points from me for making an excellent job of it. I gather it came originally from a singer called Albert Lightfoot.
In the interests of historical veracity I should explain that Tom’s version has the same problem as Larner’s – he has the British ship being chased to windward, which seems unlikely as the Moorish pirates’ xebecs were far better to windward than the British boats during the era being described.
Copies of Beyond the Quay are available direct from Doug Bailey at WildGoose Studios and from folk music CD stockists generally. While you’re over at Doug’s emporium, do take a look at some of the other recordings he has on offer including Keith Kendrick’s recent CD Songs from the Derbyshire Coast.
Further information about Tom and Barbara Brown and a programme of their performances and general doings is available from their website http://www.umbermusic.co.uk .
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