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Music Review: The Irish Rovers – Drunken Sailor

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The Irish Rovers have been performing together for more than 45 years! Now, due to YouTube, their rendition of the traditional sea chanty, “Drunken Sailor,” has reached a new young audience, with over 6,000,000 hits.

Because of this renewed success and the anniversary of the Titanic, which sunk in 1912, the group has issued a CD of rousing, energetic sea songs, also titled Drunken Sailor

While I have heard “Drunken Sailor” sung by every Celtic group in the last 10 years, I believe, I have to admit that The Irish Rovers do an excellent version of this extremely amusing song, perfect for singing along.

Indeed, the whole CD brings clearly to mind the decks of a sailing ship filled with rowdy, ragged, lusty sailors just itching to hit land and find drink and women, the subject of most of these songs. “Whores and Hounds” spells it all out. Indeed, these men are not headed for church and quiet sleep!

“All for Me Grog,” “Trust in Drink,” “The Jolly Roving Tar,” “Cruising ’round Yarmouth,” and “Across the Western Sea” all continue the theme of whiskey and women with great good cheer.

Aside from these pursuits, sailors love their ships and the sea. “Good Luck to the Barleymow” and “The Good Ship Rover” are jolly expressions of the affection by the crew for the ship.

Irish sailors also love Ireland, and how do they show that affection? They drink to it, and sing about it, as in “Dear Ould Ireland.” And the part of Ireland they miss the most while at sea? The pubs, which are commemorated in “The Dublin Pub Crawl.”

Many a sailor also has a true love, one he pines for when he’s gone, and that is the theme of “Sweet Anne,” a winsome love song that contrasts nicely with the rowdy nature of the drinking songs here.

Another song that is different is “Pleasant and Delightful,” which mimics the style of stately ballads sung in high society to tell the story of a sailor and his true love.

The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 shook most of the world’s population and has continued to intrigue and fascinate people for the ensuing 100 years. George Millar of The Irish Rovers shares his birthday, April 14, with that fateful event, and he wrote the song, “The Titanic,” in its honor. It’s a fine tribute song and was featured on the CBC documentary, The Pride of Belfast, which was shown on PBS in the United States.

You really couldn’t ask for a more enjoyable collection of sea songs than Drunken Sailor. Buy it and play it any time your spirits need a lift!

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
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