The new CD release from Monkey's Orphan, 'More Monkey Business', is a studio recording of some of the band's favourite songs and tunes. The songs are a mixture of Shanties and Sea Songs, ranging from the sublime to the hilarious and downright bawdy! The tunes included on this CD all have nautical titles, please read on for more information about both songs and tunes. By the way, the 'Mermonkey' on the front cover is a figment of Paul's fetid imagination, not to be found in a Grimsby trawler's net!

Click Here to listen to a sample of 'Aladdin' (1.7mb)
Click Here to listen to a sample of 'Farewell my Lovely Nancy' (1.15mb)
Click Here to listen to a sample of 'Boston Harbour' (971kb)
Click Here to listen to a sample of 'Le Mariage secret de la Mer et du Vent' (768kb)

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The front cover of the CD
The front cover of the CD
The back card of the CD
The back card of the CD
1. Aboard the Kangaroo (Capstan)
This (Bristol) version came from Shanty Jack's friend and mentor the late Erik Ilott, the Bristol Shantyman. It is a common theme of the sailor returned from sea to find his "true love" has married someone else, often for some reason a Tailor, but in this case the skipper of a barge. A phrase to be found in the song"..soapsuds and the blue.." was a reference to the fact that a sailor might buy his wife a "dolly tub" and a supply of "dolly blue" or "blue bag" (a whitening agent) so that she could take in washing while he was away at sea.

2. Farewell My Lovely Nancy
One of many songs about the young woman who wants to dress as a sailor and to go to sea with her lover. (To keep an eye on him?) Predictably, he wants her to stay ashore where she won't cramp his style!

3. My Bonnie Hieland Lassie-O (Capstan)
Stan Hugill had this from Co. Galway via Seamus Ennis and the BBC. It was used for anchor work and for stowing timber. Can anyone out there shed any light on the strange words in verse 1 "..drinking milk and eating flour.." It sounds like eating pancakes by installments!

4. The Cliffs of Moher / Out on the Ocean
Both of these excellent double jigs can be found in Captain Francis O'Neill's '1001 Gems, The Dance Music of Ireland'. A friend of Robin's heard the first tune and remarked that he'd been to see the famous Cliffs of Moher in Ireland 3 times and it had been too foggy to see anything, so it should be renamed 'Rumours of the Cliffs of Moher'.

5. The Chinee Bumboatman (Pumps)
This probably originated in the Royal Navy on the China Coast. Shanty Jack first heard it sung by "Dolly Gray" from Keyingham near Hull. Stan Hugill collected it from Bill Fuller who said it was often used as a pump shanty. Stan himself used it as such but it was more often used as a forebitter. Shanty Jack has a particular association with this song in that when he first sang it in public (with Ian Woods) at one of the "secret" Liverpool shanty festivals of the 1980s, a Chinese chap walked in halfway through the song!

6. Harbour le Cou
Robin found this song in 'Something to Sing About', a collection of songs by Milt Okun. This humourous song from Newfoundland is about a philandering sailor who, after rowing ashore, gets his come-uppance. There is a reference to the sailor buttoning up his 'Guernsey', this must have been the traditional cardigan-like garment from the island of the same name, now more commonly known as a 'Ganzie'.

7. Roller Bowler (Capstan)
Shanty Jack thinks he may have got this from the singing of Shay Black, sometime member of Stormalong John of Liverpool. This version differs somewhat from the 2 versions in Hugill, both of which have two short choruses and a longer one in each verse. This version has one short chorus and one long. We don't know whether it's an authentic version or just a result of approaching senility. Stan associates the song firmly with capstan work and the W. Indian sugar and rum trades.

8. Polly on the Shore
This song is about the regrets of a "privateer". "Privateering" was a system whereby in times of war a "private" shipowner or master was granted "letters of marque" from the Monarch whose flag the ship wore. These "letters of marque" entitled the "Privateer" to attack enemy shipping. This would almost always be merchant shipping. A privateer would usually be no match for a well drilled and disciplined Man o' War. There was often only a fine line to be drawn between "Privateering" and Piracy!

9. Roll the Cotton Down (Halyards)
Originally a song for working at the "Jack-Screws", to compress bales of cotton into the hold. This version is one which was also used at the halyards. Different versions of this song have you round Cape Horn on a summer's morn. It's never clear whether it refers to "our" winter or the Austral winter. (or summer!) Hugill has additional verses that were sung exclusively at the halyards.

10 The Rambling Sailor / Cap'n Billy's
A couple of rousing Irish polkas, the first found on the Internet in abc format, try looking at which is the world wide abc tune index. The second tune is also known as Tom Billy's and comes as part of the Ballydesmond polka set which you're supposed to play as fast as humanly possible. How the dancers dance to it defeats me.

11. Haul away for Rosie
This is probably a variant of the well known halyards or tacks & sheets shanty "Haul away Joe"

12. Nine Times a Night
A liberal dose of wishful thinking on the part of both the characters in this song. Shanty Jack once worked with a chap who always said that more than fifteen times a night was greedy. The song was attributed to A L Lloyd, if this means collected or composed by him we don't know, the song can be found in the collection at

12a. Boston Harbour (Capstan/Pumps)
I think this came from an old topic L.P. It was probably a capstan or pump shanty. The reference in the first verse to the ring-tail I have some doubt about. The scene is set for bad weather ("and it was blowing a devil of a gale.."). Now the "Ringtail" as far as I can make out, was a sail carried on the after edge (Leach) of a fore and aft sail between the gaff and the boom. This seems more like a light weather sail, similar in principle to the studding-sail (stuns'l) of square rig. Perhaps the drunken skipper had left it too late to hand the ringtail.....?

14. Le Mariage secret de la Mer et du Vent
(The secret marriage of the sea and the wind). Passion and pathos from the French songwriter Yves Simon. At the beginning of time..the sea was blue and calm, the wind came and declared his love, softly at first, then with passion,the sea gives him her heart and the sailors of the world perish in the tumult. The lovers are distraught that they cannot express their love without bringing death, mesdames et messieurs, prenez vos mouchoirs.

15. Aladdin
From the singing of an ex shipmate of Shanty Jack, G.L, in the Tugs in the 1970s. He said this version was sung in the Royal Marines, including the final shouted responses. The third verse Jack stole from another R.N. song and spliced it in to add a bit of length because he only got two verses from G.L. and every time he sang it people wanted more! Aladdin is possibly a derivative of the shanty "Pretoria" which was a South African song shanghaied by sailors. Cyril Tawney has a R.N. version in his book "Grey Funnel Lines."
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