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THE KEELERS - Tyne And Tide

THE KEELERS - Tyne And Tide
Keelmusic KMCD107

The Keelers feature close harmony and shanty singing and their all coming from the North East of England explains the title, as this collection of 20 songs features marine and Geordie songs (and some are both.)

The group is made up of Alan Fitzsimmons, Jim Mageean, George Unthank and Peter Wood. Alan plays whistle and tambourine, and Peter concertina, but the magnificence of this recording is in the singing, which shows just how it should be done. The boys are evidently well-used to singing together, allowing all of the harmony lines to be heard, whilst giving a great variation in pace and delivery to keep it constantly interesting.

The songs range from familiar to not-so-much shanties, music hall numbers and contemporary compositions. In addition, there are four poems by Cicely Fox Smith, to which Alan put tunes. These are all nautical in theme, with a fine degree of poignancy. Perhaps surprisingly to some readers, Admiral Horatio Nelson (the poster boy of innumerable shanties) gets put in his historical place, with Old Billy Blue and Cuddy respectively outlining the exploits of Admirals William Cornwallis and George Collingwood, without whose efforts Trafalgar may not have had the outcome it did.

There’s also a boat-launching shanty from the island of Andros in the Bahamas, and I could swear that I picked up a touch of a Bahamian accent in it, which added to the feel of the track – but it’s really unfair to single out individual songs, as they’re all of the same superb quality.

Highly recommended.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.