Some info about the songs & a few short clips for you to listen to
1 - Babylon is Fallen - (3.54)
A song from the 1991 Denson Revised Edition of the Sacred Harp. Not, as many would suggest, a song from the English Civil War, but an American import from New Hampshire. Words are from 1813 with music by W. E. Chute 1878 (thanks to Greg Butler of Strawhead for the history). Adopted by Civil War enthusiasts because of its stirring religious and martial rantings, just listen to the sentiments. The word 'Shilo' is synonymous with Messiah.
2 - Daddy fox - (3.53)
There are many American versions of this song knocking around. This one's from Dartmoor via Cyril Tawney and ultimately the Young Tradition - a little belter!
3 - Wild Goose Shanty - (2.34)
A halyard shanty that changed to a pump shanty over the years. Lots of wailing required in the chorus!
4 - Sweep chimney sweep - (4.36)
Our Copper family song. Every folk album should include a song by the Coppers of East Sussex - by law! The song is supposed to be a street cry by someone peddling his wares, but this doesn't fit the format, so it was probably a 19th Century stage song that was adopted by Bob and Ron's forebears.
5 - Bright morning star - (4.29)
Sounds like it should be a Sacred Harp hymn but it isn't. This is a religious song from the American Midwest via Peter Bellamy. The zing harmonics are intentional!
6 - White cockade (3.45)
Collected by Doug and Mary Huddleston from a man in a pub in Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire. This is adapted from Louis and Sally Killen's version.
7 - Black seam - (4.16)
A powerful song from Sting, all about the perils of nuclear power. Listen to the message it sends. The original was sung calypso style.
8 - What put the blood? - (3.21)
From the singing of the Johnstons in the 1960's. One of the many versions of 'Edward' (Child ballad 13), the incest song. Brother murders sister and is then murdered by the other brother in revenge. This could also be interpreted as the pagan birth - death - rebirth cycle of summer expiring into winter. We call the song 'Wop up'.
9 - Prickle holly bush - (5.06)
A version from Bill Whiting of Berkshire. Similar songs are found all over Europe and America - someone in peril and pleading for rescue. This song has all 20 verses recorded, but for the sake of our throats the live version doesn't!
10 - King of peace - (2.43)
A sacred harp song from the 1991 Denson Revised Edition again. Sung from 'our souls' and with the fasola introduction.
11 - Shallow brown - (4.27)
Another halyard/pump shanty. This one has West Indian origins. The word shallow is a corruption of 'Challo', which means mixed race. A truly haunting rendition.
12 - Seamen's hymn - (1.14)
From the singing of John Roberts and Tony Barrand who, in turn, got it from the singing of Louis Killen. The song was put together by A. L. Lloyd for a Trafalgar Day BBC radio programme, fitting the words to a shape-note tune in the collection of a Welsh minister.
Buy and download tracks from sleep when you're dead
"a sound that will waken the dead"
read the full review by David Kidman here or go to NetRhythms.co.uk where it was published.