A Review of the Three Sheets to the Wind CD
"All 'Tide' Up"
"All 'Tide' Up"
Cock Robin Music CRM096
by Three Sheets to the Wind
This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 11/04
Three Sheets to the Wind are an occasional trio of veteran UK
traditional singers: in alphabetical order, Derek Gifford, Geoff
Higginbottom & Keith Kendrick.
Now, I may have once worked for Britain's Trinity House as a
lighthouse keeper, but many an infant has been taken away from the
breast knowing more about sailing than me!
Now, if the three ropes (sheets) controlling the three sails
have become unsecured and are blowing loose (three sheets to the wind),
then the ship has lost control of its sails.
So, that said, I am immediately on dodgy ground when I hold a nautical
expression up to the magnifying glass. But what the heck: “in for a
penny, in for a pound”. So here goes.
“Sheets” in nautical terms, means “ropes”. The ropes that control the sails.
Thus it is, that I give them the title of the most inappropriate name
for a group EVER. Why exactly? Aren't there THREE guys here? And does
it not also mean “very drunk”? Well, yes. But the double entendre fails
because what the three of them are about “par excellence” is, not a
lack of control, but the opposite: a deeply impressive command on
lyric, harmonic and melodic line. And drunks don't “do” TOTAL CONTROL.
So whilst I would not entrust any of these ersatz Sea Dogs to even row
me across my local Cleethorpes Boating Lake, I would happily let them
sing for me, if my life depended on it. They approach their work with
real passion, and I salute them for producing a nicely varied album of
shanties and contemporary songs.
A seriously good album. All three of them do their fair share of work.
No fewer than 18 tracks: so you are not short-changed in terms of
listening time. The highlight for me was Geoff taking lead on “I Sailed
the Sea”, which I was surprised to see he had written. A very decent
song, beautifully arranged. And just listen to the other two come in,
some 41 seconds into the song! A real “tingle factor” moment, redolent
of CBS on top form. (Quick thought: hyphenate your surname, Geoff, then
we can call the group a better name. Like what? Well, “KGB” of course!
The arrangements (for three voices) on 17 of the 18 tracks, were all
worthy of praise. Only one track failed for me: Gordon Lightfoot's
“Edmund Fitzgerald”. Now as a paid-up-member of the Lightfoot fan club,
I have to say that I never really rated this song very high in his
canon. But even if it were a better song, it was somehow wasted on
three fine voices like these. Their arrangement could not elevate it.
It is primarily sung as a Higginbottom solo, and he sings the melodic
line very well indeed. But the other two are wasted: they are relegated
to the roles of “spear carriers” here, making heavenly choir “Oo-Oo”
noises. Seems to me if they wanted to do a song about a tragedy on the
Great Lakes, then Stan Rogers' “White Squall” would have lent itself
more easily to interpretation by a trio of male voices.
But a minor criticism of what is otherwise a fine album. An album that
on occasions proved (oh gosh, suddenly their choice of name is
vindicated! For I was going to use a word, and caught myself about to
But say it I will (even if I am left with egg on my face). An album that on occasions proved to be “quite INTOXICATING”.
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