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Derek Gifford - “Sailing By” - Cock Robin Music CRMCD050

There are many old folkies with a penchant for maritime songs, and Derek Gifford and his mates are several of them.  This is his second album of “salty songs”, and judging by the high quality of the material and the enthusiasm with which it is delivered there is every likelihood of a few more to come.  No scraping of the barrel here!

There are only three traditional songs here (out of a generous 16 tracks), so it can well be called a celebration of the excellent new writing on matters nautical.  To pick just a few favourites is not to decry the rest, but Alan Burbidge’s  “Aaron Manby” is almost MacCollic in its oily muscularity, while Les Barker’s “Shipping Forecast” is surreal and silly in equal parts.  As one would expect, there are several goodbyes and farewells, including a tribute to Stan Hugill, an emigration ballad to the tune of Planxty Irwin and a lamentation for lost lighthouses.

Sailors are a sentimental bunch, but Derek and his crew don’t wallow, they rather give we landlubbers some keen insights into how it feels to be bitten by the seafaring bug.  Keighley in equidistant from East and West coasts, but we do have a Sea Scout troop.  A few more doses of “Sailing By” and I may be tempted to join!

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 45 of The Living Tradition magazine.