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Swinging the Lead: Only Here for the Pier


2020 album by the Kent-based sea shanty crew


P&P: £1.50 UK/Isle of Man/Channel Islands; £3.50 Europe; £4.50 RotW

Paraphrasing a Double Diamond beer advert of the early 1970s, the latest album from Kent-based sea shanty and maritime crew Swinging the Lead introduced the two newest members of the crew to studio recording. David Prothero, an experienced violin and fiddle player, and Andy Ryan, who has boosted the vocal output of the crew, both contributed to the fuller sound you will hear on this album.

Released just before the UK’s first Covid lockdown and recorded during 2019 at Ten21 Studios in Maidstone it marks an upping of production values, with studio owner Sean Kenny bringing his expertise to bear with great effect.

As with their previous two albums there is a good mixture of unaccompanied and accompanied shanties and songs. Self-penned songs include Kentish Sailor, Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter, You’re Never Far From Shore, Ain’t No Reason and Fisherman’s Friends – a light-hearted tribute to the band down in Port Isaac which compares Swinging the Lead’s trajectory to theirs.

Local songwriter Helen North’s fine song Midshipman’s Boast, written while sailing off Portland Bill, became Oh The Rolling Sea. Tennyson’s elegiac poem Crossing The Bar gets a tasteful treatment using the melody of American fiddler Rani Arbo.

The a cappella repertoire has not been ignored with Rattling Winches and One More Pull (both from Ken Stephens), Fire Marengo and Queenborough Harbour, a traditional Eastern Seaboard shanty from the US with lyrics rewritten by Colin “Huff Duff” Turner.

The album is topped and tailed by morse code messages created by Colin using a Junkers morse key – unique in the shanty firmament.

Track listing

  1. Kentish Sailor
  2. Oh The Rolling Sea
  3. Whip Jamboree
  4. Rattling Winches
  5. Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter
  6. The Whitby Boy
  7. Queenborough Harbour
  8. One More Pull
  9. Liverpool Lou
  10. Fact Of Life
  11. Fire Marengo
  12. Fisherman’s Friends
  13. Crossing The Bar
  14. Weary Whaling Grounds
  15. Load ’Em And Stack ’Em
  16. You’re Never Far From Shore
  17. Ain’t No Reason
  18. Blow Ye Winds In The Morning
  19. Sugar In The Hold
  20. Kent Is My County
  21. Cousin Jack