Review: Live Scallywags

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Pirates Charles

Buy the CD
Genre: Pirate shanty-punk
Rating: R
Target Audience: Pirates. Drunken, brazen, shameless pirates.

Sometimes it seems as if there’s three kinds of music in this world – good music, bad music, and pirate music. The Pirates Charles’ album LIVE Scalliwaggs would entirely qualify as pirate music. Continue reading

Review: Lafitte’s Return Vol. 1 and 2

Rating: ★★★★½
Various Artists

Buy the CD – Volume 1

Buy the CD – Volume 2
Genre: Various. Ranges from traditional to metal to lounge. Seriously.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: This is perhaps the most universal collection of pirate music ever. If you love any aspect of the genre, these albums are for you.

A short while back I was asked (and I paraphrase,) “I think I’m interested in learning more about pirate music, but I don’t know where to begin. Any suggestions?” Continue reading

Review: Everyone Loves Singing Pirates

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Seadogs

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Genre: Traditional and traditional-styled origninal pirate tunes.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Late teens to early retirement

The Seadogs are very likely the largest pirate band in existence. “Everyone Loves Singing Pirates”, being their second shanty album, and their first actually dedicated to the noble subject of piracy, features the combined efforts of no fewer than 14 artists. Not many pirate bands boast enough manpower to crew a small galleon, but the Seadogs certainly come close. Continue reading

Review: The Recruiter… Free Rum Ain’t Free

Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Whiskey Bards

Genre: A Capella traditional and faire-style pirate songs.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Late teens to early retirement

How do you define courage? There are many ways – far more than I care to get into at this time. But if I were truly put to task to come up with a single, all-encompassing definition, it might include four gentlemen singling “Bell Bottom Trousers” in the first person. Hearing their manly voices belt out lyrics regarding “he layed me on the bed until my blue eyes turned to brown” is both amusing and off-setting. An odd, odd creative choice, and in this way, quite memorable and worthwhile. Continue reading

Review: A Knife to Remember

Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Musical Blades

Genre: A Capella Festival Songs
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Late teens to early retirement

In my humble opinion, traditional-style pirate bands have a unique chanllenge set before them. Being as much of their music is performed live on the festival circuit, they must cater to the live-action, beer-guzzling, turkey-leg-waving-to-the-music crowd. This is what I consider “renny” music – quasi-baudi, slightly goofy, and sometimes requiring audience participation. And this is all fine until this same band enters the recording studio, where much of this live performance just doesn’t translate well to the digital medium… Continue reading

Review: Swashbuckling Sea Songs

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Various Artists

Genre: Traditional and original pirate sea songs
Rating: G
Target Audience: Children

I don’t understand Disney. There are plenty of exceptional pirate bands out there, yet Disney seems oblivious. When Micky Mouse and gang decide to make a children’s album that feeds off the Pirates of the Caribbean success, rather than search for the experts in the matter, they go it alone. Sure, I know they do it so they can keep all the loot for themselves, and that would be fine if they made an album that in some way contributed to the genre. But they didn’t. Instead they made a half-hearted album of sissy pirate-esque songs that will be purchased by droves of impressionable children, who will then quickly decide that pirate music isn’t all that exciting, and never feel inspired to seek out those truly worthwhile pirate albums that don’t enjoy the sponsorship of Disney, or feature Jack Sparrow’s smiling mug on the cover. Continue reading

Review: Come Aboard

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Alaskan Pirate

Genre: Crusty pup shanty styled orignial compositions.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Late teens to early retirement

With their album “Come Aboard,” The Alaskan Pirate and His Salty Seamen bring the listener a variety of traditional and original compositions, although most of us would be hard pressed to say which is which. Indeed, every track on this album, be it ancient or freshly written, sounds like it’s been sung by seagoing lads for generations. And what’s more, not one single track sounds even remotely “folkish.” These aren’t sea shanties as sung by an armchair sailor or children’s sing-a-long – not remotely. Rather, this is music as sung by the saltiest amongst us – those who’ve been to sea, had their fingers frozen to the oars and watched their mates get hauled below by tentacled creatures of the deep. The compositions are simple yet bold, the vocals crusty yet listenable. If Quint from the movie Jaws had a band, it would sound a lot like The Alaskan Pirate and His Salty Seamen. 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: The Scurvy Pirates

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Scurvy Pirates

Genre: Traditional and original pirate shanteys with a modern attitude.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Ages 15 and up

Most pirate bands can be classified – they are either contemporary, experimental, or traditional. But Scurvy Pirates is a bit difficult to pin down. Their musical style is firmly rooted in traditional sea shanties – the instruments and singing would be quite at home aboard ship, or in a dockside tavern. But their raw enthusiasm and creativity show no allegience, and the resulting lyrics cross the map from the odd to the brilliant in a series of songs that old salts WOULD have sung for generations, if only they had thought of it. Continue reading

Review: Got Booty?

Rating: ★★½☆☆
The Budd Bay Buccaneers

Genre: Traditional and traditional inspired sea shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: All ages

Keepin’ it real on the high seas yar.

Sea shanties and pirate music come in many forms – some belong in the concert hall, some at a rock show, and others – true to their roots – belong in a crowded pub full of drunken sailors swinging their mugs in rough rhythm. Continue reading