Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tradition (1959)

Another sea shanty record- make that the sea shanty record. Sung with the edge and gusto of real whiskey-soaked sea dogs- which Lloyd, at least, was, working on an Antarctic whaling ship in the 1930’s. Both Lloyd and MacColl acquired their folk song habits in the midst of the Great Depression, and their dissemination of songs of the working people, whether originating from ships or factories, is closely linked to their political beliefs. Both were actively involved with the communist party on a long-term basis.

These days MacColl’s legacy may be most present in the many, many covers of “Dirty Old Town,” which he wrote about his northern England hometown of Salford. The Pogues do kinda own that song with their amazing version so all who assume it's about Dublin are to be forgiven. I've been to Dublin. It is, indeed, dirty. Of course the Pogues were from London. Anyway.

These sea shanties are exciting and bawdy and generally awesome, especially Old Billy Riley which is so fierce and dark in this version that I can imagine Nick Cave singing it. Makes want to take to the sea- or, at least, drink whiskey! The center label seems so simple and well-crafted. The Tradition font is like just about to cross over to the Celtic dark side but instead keeps it together in the beautifully balanced gold/ ruby/ off-white composition. Solid.

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