The Pyrates Royale: Lyve Behind Bars

By Christine Lampe
No Quarter Given -- January, 2000

If you are not familiar with the Pyrates Royale, get ready for a rollickin’ treat. If you are familiar with them (through their performances or their earlier album), then all I need tell you is that this album contains more of their fantastic stuff - go get it! This is the next best thing to seeing them in person.

The pieces offered are mostly traditional shanties, but done up with the “Pyrates" special, often humorous, treatment. Some of the lyrics have been rewritten or modified to pyratize or bawdify them. With other pieces, all it takes is some suggestive inflection of voice to make them come off as much lustier than how others usually perform them. The Pyrates Royale are the kings and queens of innuendo and insinuation.

Many of the songs are sung a capella, with the voices blending into colorful harmonies, yet each with it’s own distinctive quality. You get to meet each singer individually as they take turns in a lusty interpretation of "Donkey Riding" that gives a whole new slant to this song. Feisty Peg Riley, with her booming voice, is featured on “Santianno”, done in her own way, telling the story from a female pirate’s point of view. Lascivious “Long John” Skivee gives a raucous, ribald rendition of “Don’t Sail There” (based on “Jack of All Trades). This song was a crowd favorite, judging by the audience reaction on the recording. Here’s a verse to let you judge for yourself:

“We used to sail to Dublin, and there we put ashore,
"We used to sail to Dublin, we did, but we don’t any more.
"A lady asked Skivee for tools one day, we had some of those on board
‘Hardware she wanted?”, “Nail her I did!’
"That why we don’t sail there no more."
Alcohol is a favorite topic, as borne out by "The Old Dun Cow", "Whiskey Oh", and "The Grand Pubs of Yorkshire". Paired up with "Beer, Beer, Beer", and done up to the tune of "Johnny Comes Marching Home Again", is a band original "Stumble" (I'll let you guess t topic). There’s a few more modern pieces that have been down up “Pyrate” fashion. “Smoke Two Joints” has been successfully altered into “Drink A Rum” by Darcy Nair Bond, a right good rum-soaked song I say. There’s a few surprises thrown in here and there (wait till you get to the hidden track at the end). Overall, this is a fun collection of shanties, tavern songs and a few others sung by a crew of irreverent rogues. Listen closely to the various comments and kibitzing in the background. 'Tis certainly not a polished performance, but I think that makes it all the better. You definitely get yer doubloon's worth - there are eighteen tracks - a few of them back-to-back songs. A good lot of musical listening.

Christine Lampe, also known as Jamaica Rose, is the Editor and Publisher of No Quarter Given, a monthly publication specializing in all things piratical -- including history, present-day festivals and activities, and music.

To subscribe, write to: No Quarter Given, PO Box 7456, Riverside, CA 92513. A one-year subscription is $12. Copies of particular issues may also be purchased for $2.50 each plus 75 cents postage, up to $4 total.

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Another favorable review! Good thing our checks don't bounce!