Paul Clayton - Whaling and Sailing Songs From the Days of Moby Dick (1956), 6/10

From the very start, Whaling and Sailing Songs From the Days of Moby Dick be showin' an obvious charm and a genuine air. Instead of bein' a collection of mere novelty tunes, this here record presents a genuine lot of folk shanties. Some be better written than others, and the narrative could be better presented as a whole, as far as a holistic story, but this don’t take away from the power of the individual songs much of the time, nay. There be some throwaway tracks mixed in as well like "Paddy Doyle's Boots" or the frankly irritatin' "Ranzo" (although it does have a nice wee tale), but while they don't carry their own weight as songs, they do indeed add to the validity of the story and fit in well with the concept. Aye, it be a tall task to present a concept album drawing from such a giant in the world of literature as Melville's classic novel, but Paul Clayton achieves just that even with his placid voice and simple harmonies. If only Beefheart had expanded on his "Orange Claw Hammer" in this fashion, we could have had another great set of shanties to accompany Ishmael and the crew such as this, despair! The shortness and brevity help the album maintain a pleasant momentum; it do be vital in fact to its effectiveness. There indeed be better sea music out there past these shores, but none perhaps so dedicated to a singular classical motif. Some o’ the best be the opener, “Spanish Ladies”, “Admiral Benbow” and “Boney Was a Warrior”. If nothin' else, Whaling and Sailing Songs From the Days of Moby Dick be an infectious, lively, and jolly record with some charmin’ guitar workins and clean pleasant vocals, all worthy of settin' sail with on the high seas! She’s indeed a beaut’ and a lass worth fetchin after all these years, a companion for even the filthiest crew searchin’ for their white whale in these unforgivin’ waters.