Review: Tales of the Atlantic Pirates

Rating: ★★★★★
Tales of the Atlantic Pirates
by Geoffrey Girard

I’m going to be honest – I was not looking foward to reading this book. The simple fact is that, at a glance, it has little unique to offer. The back cover essentially claims it to be a collection of short stories about pirates – and that’s about it. But therein lies the tragedy, as many folks – shortsighted individuals such as myself – might grab this book from the shelf, half-heartedly read the description, and then put it back with a ho-hum attitude. And that would be a shame, as this book is nothing short of brilliant.

Tales of the Atlantic Pirates is composed of 13 short stories, ranging from 1671 right up through 2006. Each is historically inspired, sometimes borrowing historical events and figures, other times injecting a small dose of folklore-based supernatural. And each story concludes with a brief paragraph or two that explains the historical (or folk-lore) inspirations that led to the creation of said story. Continue reading

Review: Kings of the Sea

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Skeleton Crew Pirate Band

Genre: Traditional-styled sea and pirate shanteys, but with some deviation and unique character
Rating: PG
Target Audience: All Ages

The problem with period music is it sometimes leans towards the dry side. And while non-period music is often more fun, it generally clashes with any sort of authenticity (a problem at times, certainly.) But with their new album “Kings of the Sea,” The Skeleton Crew Pirate Band manages to straddle that difficult line and create an album that’s fun to listen to, while still lending itself to a period feel. I use the words “period feel” carefully, as not all of these songs are actually authentic. Many, in fact, are culled from a wide variety of movie favorites – Muppet Treasure Island, The Pirates of Penzance, Treasure Island, and Pirates of the Caribbean all lend tunes and lyrics to this album. But while the sources may be modern, the vocals and instruments throughout carry a traditional piratey air, only deviating a bit with some non-traditional vocal styles now and again. And indeed, many of the other songs truly are period (William Kidd, Pirate’s Love Song, and Henry Martin, for example) although they too feature some artistic liscence with styling (and more power to them!) Continue reading

Review: There is a Ship

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
3 Pints Gone

Genre: Traditional and traditional-inspired
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown Ups

When I was little I used to watch low-budget cartoons from Japan. I remember one with three robots. These robots could combine to make a larger, mega robot. But the trick was, they could do it in any order. When the yellow robot was the head, it created a robot with different strengths and weaknesses than if the red or blue robot was the head – each of whom carried their own unique talents to the equation. And so it is with 3 Pints gone, a renaissance/maritime band that frequently shifts lead singers throughout their album “There is a Ship.” Continue reading

Review: Fade to Black

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Virgil Franklin

Buy the CD
Genre: Synthesized Fanstasy Instrumental
Rating: No lyrics are uttered, so pretty safely G
Target Audience: All Ages

Fanez-Vous Pour Noircir (Fade to Black) is billed as 40 minutes of “soundtrack for plunder and mayhem.” But while the content is certainly ripe with piracy and nautical undertones, these synthisized songs are perhaps a little too crisp and polished to conjure the sort of gritty chaos you might associate with historical piracy. Rather, this is music for journeys of fantasy and exploration, noble exploits and sinister dealings. It goes well with rum, too. Continue reading

Review: Rogue’s Gallery

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Various Artists

Genre: Traditional and traditional-inspired
Rating: Mostly PG, but some songs are very, very R (and then some)
Target Audience: Adult

As the story goes, Johnny Depp and Gore Verbanski were so psyched about their recent Pirates of the Caribbean work that they decided to embark on a pirate project of their own. They co-produced Rogue’s Gallery, a two-disc album of 43 traditional sea-shanties as interpreted by a large and varied group of distinctly non-shanty artists. A bold proposition, to say the least, and one that could result in genius or catastrophe. Continue reading