Fred Smith & The Spooky Men’s Chorale – Urban Sea Shanties


NATIONAL FOLK AWARD WON BY FRED SMITH AND THE SPOOKY MEN’S CHORALE by David Hogan, NFSA This year’s National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) National Folk Recording Award has been won by Fred Smith in collaboration with The Spooky Men’s Chorale for their CD Urban Sea Shanties. Both Fred Smith and The Spooky Men’s Chorale are well-known on the Australian folk music stage, but this is their first recording together. Fred is based in Canberra, while the Spooky Men, with more than twenty singers, hail from the Blue Mountains. Urban Sea Shanties shanghais the listener into a rich musical journey from the bars of Birmingham to the flooded streets of New Orleans, from the Mosques of Karachi to the Dapto Dog Track. Fred Smith’s distinctive lead vocals switch between narration and singing, creating different voices and characters from around the globe. With vocal arrangements by the Chorale’s Stephen Taberner, the Spooky Men inhabit various roles in the cast, painting a musical picture of adventurous travel exploring a wide, colourful world. The CD is beautifully recorded, capturing in rich sound the various vocal and instrumental contributions. This is the ninth year the National Folk Recording Award has been presented. CEO of the NFSA, Darryl McIntyre, said today that the Award was created to reward excellence in Australian folk recording. Entrants were selected from recordings submitted by performers at the 2009 National Folk Festival. The Award was judged by a panel of representatives from the National Folk Festival, ABC Radio and the NFSA. The Award carries a cash prize plus accession of Urban Sea Shanties into the NFSA’s recorded sound collection.

Fred Smith and The Spooky Men’s Chorale

‘Urban Sea Shanties’

CD Review by John Williams

This CD is what you get when you put one of Australia’s most innovative and creative singer/songwriters into a partnership with our most innovative and creative choir.

It is innovative and creative!It is also easy to listen to and has a mix of very funny tracks and quieter, more thought provoking songs as well such as ‘A Woman Like You’ and “Say a Prayer’.

According to the CD cover notes urban sea shanties first emerged in the nineteenth century as variations of the sea shanties sung by sailors and they evolved to mitigate the embarrassment felt by sock sandaled sea shanty singers who were land locked.

It must be true.

Fred is at his best with great lyrics, sometimes corny rhyming and often a general sense of fun.  He wrote all the songs on the CD.

The Spooky Men’s Choir back him superbly to create a fine listening experience under the influence of the Spookmeister, Stephen Taberner.

When I first looked at the CD, and having seen both parties several times separately, I wasn’t sure it would work.

My first listening quickly dispelled that thought.

Thirteen other musicians appear on this CD and are two numerous to mention in the space provided, suffice it to say they range from bagpipes and bass through horns to trumpet and ukulele and all are very professional musicians.This creates a wonderful sound.

There are twelve tracks on the CD.Among my favorites were ‘Angel of Birmingham’, ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Tension’ and‘Shhh’ but all tracks are well worth listening to.

This CD will take pride of place in my collection and is one I can highly recommend.

3 in stock (can be backordered)

SKU: TN891-32 Category:

Additional information

Weight .180 kg
Dimensions 22 × 16 × .50 cm