Duck Pond Sailors are an unaccompanied quintet from the south coast – Littlehampton or thereabouts, as far as I can judge. They don’t tell us much about themselves except that Sea Songs And Shanties is their debut recording, mostly traditional with a one original song and possibly two adaptations.
The opener, ‘I Am A Duck Pond Sailor’ by Jonathan Mott, is a nicely self-deprecating song – we all know shanty singers who would get seasick in a rowing boat – and it sets the scene well but it does leave them open to accusations of fakery but I don’t suppose they’ll worry too much about that. ‘Littlehampton Collier Lads’ is mostly traditional and has moved along the coast from Sam Larner’s ‘Dogger Bank’ although I did find mention of the title as long ago as 1935. ‘Hard Times Of Old England’ is another modernisation of the Copper Family song, resolutely even-handed in its condemnation of both political sides.
The harmonies are generally tight, perhaps too much so, but whether that is the band or the recording, I can’t say. I feel that they need a bigger bass voice or maybe just more natural reverb in the recording. The track that seems to suit them best is their melancholy reading of ‘Leave Her Johnny’. The recording isn’t perfect, there is an unwelcome noise at the end of some tracks, presumably as the tape switches off, which should have been edited out and in a couple of places you get the feeling that the chaps are getting tired and would have been better advised to take a break.
Duck Pond Sailors are really about singing in front of a roaring pub fire and this record will be a good souvenir of a live show of which there will doubtless be many in the future.
Artists’ website: http://www.duckpondsailors.com/
A medley of songs at The Dolphin, Littlehampton: