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Swinging the Lead: Swinging the Lead


2013 debut album by the Kent-based sea shanty crew


P&P: £2 UK/Isle of Man/Channel Islands; £4.50 Europe; £6 RotW

The first album by the north-west Kent based sea shanty crew back in 2013.

By then they had been the regular shanty crew onboard the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London, and the front cover reflects that as the figurehead collection there features with the four members planted electronically after several attempts to photograph them in situ failed.

The four-man crew were supplemented by two singers, the late and much missed Brian Withstandley – a Shakespearean actor and founder of the crew when he left the original Hog Eye Men with Stephen and Dave. Brian also composed the track on the album bearing the crew’s name. He is lead on that and his sonorous voice brings out the best on the evocative Is The Big Fella Gone, written by the late Rod Shearman.

Colin “Huff Duff” Turner also guested and then joined the crew as a member and has been with them ever since. He leads on a slower melancholic version of One More Day and brought the shanty Larry Marr into the repertoire.

Even at this early stage in the crew’s evolution instrumentation was being used to supplement the a cappella repertoire of more traditional shanties. So guitars, mandolin, cuatro, whistle and harmonica are played, with Malcolm Rees coming onboard with his banjo for Leaving of Liverpool and The Balaena.

Modern songwriters also feature, with Shep Woolley’s Down By The Dockyard Wall, Cyril Tawney’s Grey Funnel Line and Hughie Jones’s Ellen Vannin prominent plus Chris Lea and Stephen Skey’s Fair Trade Wind bringing us right up to date.

The album was recorded and engineered at Roundel Studios in Swinging the Lead’s home waters at Horton Kirby by the late Roger Cotton – the keyboard player with Peter Green’s Splinter Group.

Track listing

  1. Santiana
  2. Bonnie Ship The Diamond
  3. South Australia (the long way around)
  4. Blow Boys Blow
  5. Fair Trade Wind
  6. Is The Big Fella Gone?
  7. Down By The Dockyard Wall
  8. London Julies
  9. Ellen Vannin
  10. Rolling Up, Rolling Down
  11. Jamaica Farewell
  12. Sam’s Gone Away
  13. Hills of Isle Au Haut
  14. Stormy Weather Boys
  15. Grey Funnel Line
  16. One More Day
  17. Shallow Brown
  18. Johnson Girls
  19. Larry Marr
  20. Leaving Of Liverpool
  21. Swinging The Lead
  22. The Balaena