Captain Bogg and Salty
Captain Bogg & Salty’s first album, Bedtime Stories for Pirates, is without a doubt one of the finest pirate albums ever made. It’s silly enough to entertain the young, yet clever enough for the old. But what I like best about it is that you don’t need to listen to the lyrics to know that the songs are a) piratey and b) funny. It spews pirates and laughs from its very core, and thus induces me now and then to dance about the living room whilst flailing my cutlass in meriment (a practice for which my son has scolded me.)
However, Captain Bogg & Salty’s second release, Pegleg Tango, doesn’t so much feature pirates pretending at being children’s entertainers (as in the first album), but rather pirates putting on a variety show as they perform a wider range of music styles, including Latin/Cuban dance, children’s sing-along, sea-shanties, and even 50’s rock. Unlike the first album the pirates do an effective job of blending into these new genres, unfortunately losing much of their own distinctive character in the process. While the lyrics remain very piratey, the music is often anything but.
Pegleg Tango begins with “Age of Buccaneers,” a cute spoken bit that reintroduces the titular characters Captain Angus Bogg and Salty. This piece is immediately followed by “Weigh Anchor,” which features lively banjos and Bogg’s scratchy Scottish accent as the Pollywog sets off. It’s a fun song, but is somewhat too polished to feel like a song by pirates, instead sounding like the introduction of a musical about pirates.
Next is “I’m a Pirate,” which is the first song of several on the album to carry a definite 50’s style. As much about surfing as pirating, this song conjures images of an Elvis beach party (think beehive hairdos, hula-hoops, and cat-eye glasses.)
“Pieces of 8ight,” is a refreshing dose of classic Bogg & Salty, with Captain Bogg at his very piratey-est as he sings of all the wonderful pirate things you can buy with your plunder. When listening to this song it’s difficult to NOT start thumping your feet to the music.
“Happy Birthday Chucklehead” is another spoken piece set up to transition us into the following track, “Pirate Party,” which is our second trip into 50’s piracy – this time with something of a Stray Cats flavor. Like “I’m a Pirate,” the lyrics are very piratey, but the music is very 50’s.
“Scallywag,” is a fun piece with a definite Spanish flair. It has a nice tropical feel about it, and is very catchy. This song is all the more fun because the deep Latin voice contrasts wonderfully with the humor of the lyrics.
“Nellie the Elephant” is a song about the adventures of an elephant that ran away from the circus, and doesn’t seem to contain a single pirate reference. It can be quite quirky and addictive, especially during Salty’s solos, but seems an odd fit for a pirate-themed album, and likely has more appeal to kids than adults.
“Sea Monster” reminds me of “Manatee” from the first album. Very soft and soothing, yet still maintaining a pirate-theme in its lyrics as the singer tells the tale of a sea monster coming to the rescue of a pirate crew.
“What it’s Really Like on a Ship” is a sea-shanteyish piece about the hardships of life at sea. It’s well done and very easy on the ears, bringing to mind some of Bogg & Salty’s prior works. It’s also perhaps the friendliest sounding song I’ve ever heard that involved such pleasantries as seasickness, marooning, scurvy, and rickets.
“The Tortuga Caper” is this album’s final spoken-word piece, this time set up to introduce the title-track, “Pegleg Tango” – a very tropical, Cuban song that’s about exactly what the title would suggest. It’s extremely well done, catchy, and conjures wonderful images of a one-legged dance instructor of dubious masculinity.
“Sea Kings” is the third installment in the 50’s theme, this time of the “doo-wop” variety as the singer and Captain Bogg take turns encouraging the listener to run off to sea. The lyrics are piratey and fun (especially Captain Bogg’s enthusiastic rant about the joys of a pirate life,) but once again, the music just doesn’t bring it home.
The album concludes with “Pull Away Home,” an amusing little sea chantey with some clever lyrics about parrots demanding their fair share of the booty and such.
All told, this album didn’t do as much for me as did Bedtime Stories for Pirates. Pegleg Tango is very well made, but it’s largely missing the contagiously boisterous pirate enthusiasm of its predecessor – the sea-shanteys are very good, but feel more tamely nautical than outwardly buccaneer. And the 50’s and circus songs, though well executed, just don’t seem all that piratey to me. Kevin Hendrickson, the mastermind behind both Bogg & Salty and Pirate Jenny, has shown a willingness to experiment as he pushes an easily clichéd theme into new and exciting directions. Taking such risks in the past has led to some absolutely brilliant albums, but I don’t think it quite paid off this time.