I’ve got something to say before the rest of the review. Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinsky, between the movie Rango and producing this with Hal Wilner, I am preemptively going to forgive you for The Lone Ranger.
Okay, we’re back with a story. My brother had just married, his wife and I was still in that awkward phase where we were trying to get to know each but also not look like total fools. On a Girl’s Night Out, she asked what my favorite type of music was. And I honestly couldn’t answer in part because my taste is eclectic, and because I didn’t want seem lame. But mostly the latter. If I’d had Son of Rogues Gallery back then, I would have just been able to say, “Most of this.”
And it’s true because using the theme of life at sea, this album draws from all manner of sources and styles. Son of Rogues Gallery comes in at 36 tracks and 2 hours, 20 minutes and it’s hard to pick out just a few favorites. It starts out with strongly with our old friend Shane MacGowan drunkenly rocking out with Leaving Liverpool. There’s Macy Grey’s reggae version of Off to Sea Once More, Ivan Neville’s Mr. Stormalong or Chuck E. Weiss country fried Anthem for Old Souls. There’s the pure joy that infuses Sunshine Life for Me sung by Petra Haden and Lenny Pickett on sax, and Bear Away done by Kenny Wollesen & The Himalayas. If you want more traditional there’s Row Bullies Row sung by Shaun Lennon (which sets me swaying every time), Sam’s Gone Away with Robyn Hitchcock, General Taylor with Richard Thompson, and the heartbreaking Missus McGraw sung by Anjelica Huston.
And there’s so many more, but for me there are two standouts. One is a lullaby from Tennyson’s The Princess, Sweet and Low by the Americans. It’s great arraignment with wonderful singing, and beautiful instrumentation. The other is Shennandoah a call and response between the incomparable Tom Waits and a chorus of Tom Waits. Then add in Keith Richards harmonizing and you have pure magic.
There are a few that I didn’t like such as the discordant “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” and a couple of spoken word pieces. But those are easily forgotten and forgiven in the sheer tide of other good songs. Son of Rogues Gallery is an embarrassment of riches and that is not a bad thing at all.
Gail Rybak is an occasional writer, artist, photographer, Avon Lady, and she helps run Amelia’s Heirlooms. She is also a full-time geek and cat owner, and enjoys writing for Celtic Music Magazine. She will hopefully (assuming she can remember her password) be writing on her personal blog Machinations of a Robothobbit. Fame and fortune has eluded her so far, but she has many fine hats. She wishes to thank Mattie Dalton without whom this reveiw wouldn’t have been able to happen.