Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In House #1695: New Seafaring Compilation, Rogue's Gallery; New Decemberists

Pirates are hot right now. Not the Pittsburgh ballclub, who have languished in last place for most of the season, but the mean and vicious-arrgh matey-walk the plank type, who have lately had their reputations boosted by the likes of Jack Sparrow. Speaking of which, it was the man who plays Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, in case you're unaware) together with the director of Pirates of the Caribbean, Gore Verbinski, who began playing with the idea of an album of modernized takes on the kinds of songs they became intrigued by while filming the movie. Enter Brett Gurewitz, the head of the Anti-Epitaph label, and his willingness to take on intriguing, envelope-pushing projects (it's no mistake his label's roster includes the likes of Tom Waits, Greg Graffin, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Neko Case, among others). Gurewitz commissioned Hal Willner to produce the sprawling results: the 43-track, 2-disc collection Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys.

The haphazardly organized recordings, which you can read about at length on Anti's website, gathered a truly random, not necessarily seafaring assortment of artists for contributions to the compilation. Lou Reed is here, as are the Thompsons, Richard & Teddy. Many artists, like Bryan Ferry, Bono, Lucinda Williams, Joseph Arthur, and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, are truly unexpected, while others make more stylistic sense (Baby Gramps and Eliza Carthy, for example). It's uneven, as any such collection would be expected to be, but it also has its revelatory moments, like Carthy's read of "Rolling Sea," and Bryan Ferry's teaming with Antony on "Lowlands Low." The songs are lyrically fascinating, often bawdy historical documents that shed light on centuries of sea life, and while they may not satisfy the listener looking for authentic takes on sea-folk, the 21st century reinterpretations make more than worthwhile listening.

In House #1695.
Airdate: 8/30/06
Focus: New compilation, Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys, featuring Richard & Teddy Thompson, Lou Reed, Joseph Arthur, Eliza Carthy, Bono, Brian Ferry and more. Plus, new music from The Decemberists, James Yorkston & the Athletes, and more.

BONUS MP3s from today's show-
Richard Thompson, from Rogue's Gallery: "Mingulay Boat Song" (MP3)

The Decemberists, from The Crane Wife (due 10/3): "Summersong" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #166


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