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KIMBERíS MEN - The Strength Of The Swell

KIMBERíS MEN - The Strength Of The Swell
A Private Label APL014

Hopefully there's no such thing as a shanty purist, because they'd insist on shantymen that have to work on ships and in conditions that no longer exist. (I know that’s not entirely true but bear with me.) So no one needs to complain at a beautifully crafted mixture of standards, obscurities and shanty-inspired songs spanning two CDs. (Thank you.)

As well as the variety that Kimber’s Men present with shanties, gospel songs and ballads, there is also the variety of voices available to them, each member taking his turn at leading their particular song. Choruses are double-tracked, so their sumptuousness makes up for any loss of atmosphere that you would get at a concert.

Liner notes give background for each song, including sources, controversy over meaning if there is any and the occasional anecdote. The new songs fit seamlessly into the programme. Asleep In The Sand boasts haunting harmonies from the group with a lead vocal from David Buckley, who also wrote the song. What Price? is a message song written by Roz and Neil Kimber about the loss of three fishing trawlers in 1968 that led to a change in the safety laws. They also include a rousing version (is there any other kind?) of The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers.

Fever On Board again has wonderful harmonies, and just listen to the chilling way Joe Stead sings the words “death rattle”. There’s Buckley’s marvellous tribute to Stan Hugill, Stan The Shantyman, and throw in a snippet of Yellow Submarine during Heave Away My Johnnies  and you have quite a broad spectrum of music here. Recommended.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 94 of The Living Tradition magazine.