KIMBER’S MEN – The Strength Of The Swell (A Private Label APL014)

For those of you that haven’t seen Kimber’s Men do yourselves a favour and rectify this at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise, you could stay at home and put on this great 2-disk CD and bask in the rich harmonies of one of this country’s leading Shanty-styled groups. Now a five-piece the hearty vocals of Joe Stead, Neil Kimber, Dave Buckley, John Bromley and Gareth Scott combine in unison to stir the imagination of anyone wishing to feel as if they’ve just encountered a force ten gale or, in my case having got wet from the splash-back of the hose whilst cleaning the windows of my caravan. Of course there are the obligatory traditional ‘shanties’ including “Roll The Woodpile Down”, “Haul Away For Rosie” and “Bulgine Run” but the scholarly, though never starchy booklet notes (they even include all the lyrics!) lead you to a riot of colourful songs of the sea such as Stan Rogers “Mary Ellen Carter” and Bill Meek’s “Harry Eddom”. For me though, the stand-out tracks are those penned by members of the group themselves (Kimber and Buckley) who have embraced the very spirit of their chosen craft and I’m sure will find their way into the repertoires of like-minded souls of a nautical persuasion. The strength of the swell is…in this case…the strength of the ‘sell’ and it couldn’t have been done any better even if you were a Fisherman’s Friend! Pete Fyfe

KIMBER’S MEN IN PORT Album Review by Pete Fyfe

Kimber’s Men are something a little extra special…a shanty crew that everyone can enjoy! Consisting Joe Stead, Neil Kimber, Dave Buckley, Gareth Scott and John Bromley the ‘Men’ all have fine voices each as good as each other and then there’s that resonant bass ringing masterfully at the end of “Fire Marengo”. Captured live in concert by Tony Bottomley this handsomely packaged double album is a true testament highlighting how powerful good shanty singing can be…full of passion but with plenty of warmth. The sailor’s life is not always a happy one and of course the tragedies and tribulations, conveyed in the lyrics of Bill Meek’s “Harry Eddom” and Neil & Roz Kimber’s “Don’t Take The Heroes” show that this particular style of song will echo through the ages unlike the pap that purports to be popular music nowadays. Now, I don’t quite know what it is but the performance of “God Moves On The Water” led brilliantly by Gareth Scott brings to mind how Martin Simpson might sound with a shanty crew and trust me…that’s a compliment. On a more optimistic note, Joe Stead & Pete Seeger’s poignant “Darkest Before The Dawn” is the kind of ballad that encapsulates the thoughts of sailors and better days to come whilst familiar rousing choruses including “Blow Boys Blow” and “Leave Her Johnny Leave Her” coupled with strong contemporary story-telling this is an album that more fully satisfies than most in a year that has seen the passing of Johnny Collins (another great shanty singer) and couldn’t have come at a better time. If you do purchase the album (and I sincerely hope you will!) at the very reasonable cost of £15.00 that includes a donation to the RNLI don’t be confused by the unconventional track listing on the back sleeve. It’s just there so that you can skip the introductions if you want to. Glorious stuff!


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