By Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew
Look beyond their pirate-themed lyrics, and Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew actually bear a frightening resemblance to Goldie Lookin Chain. Only, instead of rapping about Elizabeth Duke and McDonald's, they rap about treasure, wenches and rum, and have a tendency to splutter "c-c-c-c-c-Caribbean!" over a slipping-disc sound effect.
What's really surprising, is that this is the third release from Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew. While the first few tracks serve as a mildly entertaining diversion, the joke begins to wear seriously thin after a few tracks, and it's difficult to believe Captain Dan has released two previous albums of this sort of material.
Title track and album opener 'From The Seas To The Streets' and second track 'That's How We Row' will have you chuckling along. Both tracks replace the usual hip hop exclamation of "yo! Yo!" with a rapped "yar! Yar!" in a stroke of silly genius that you can't help but smile at. 'From The Seas To The Streets' employs a stereotypical backing track of skipping discs, crunching beats and jangly drum-machines, but with an extra, piratical flourish in the form of stabbing strings and boomy, movie-soundtrack bass.
'That's How We Row' and 'Diggin For Gold' are a little different, taking gangsta rap as their starting point. 'That's How We Row' creates that dark, dangerous vibe through the inclusion of tinkling piano and choruses of expletive-riddled gang vocals. As well as "yar! Yar!"-ing instead of "yo! Yo-!"-ing, 'That's How We Row' paraphrases stereotypical rap lyrics with a chorus of "cos we row like this! We roll like this!" and shouts of "heave, ho!" It may not be a send-up to rival The Lonely Island, but it's dumb, straightforward fun that won't tax your brain cells. 'Diggin' For Gold,' on the other hand, is a humour-free zone. Its more violent lyrical content is accompanied by lashings of gang vocals and a black-hearted backing track of pumping, piston-like beats. The humour of 'That's How We Row' and 'From The Seas To The Streets' is sorely missed.
That all-important sense of humour also goes AWOL with the awful double act of 'Calypso's Crabs' and 'Chests o' Plenty.' Neither songs are crude enough to draw a guilty, un-politically correct laugh, but nor are they subtle enough to make decoding their wink-wink-nudge-nudge double entrendrees, deliciously entertaining. Devoid of any redeeming tongue-in-cheek humour, 'Calypso's Crabs' and 'Chests o' Plenty' should be avoided at all costs.
But, far worse is album low point, 'Ladies In Scarlet,' a song that's guaranteed to have you cringing from start to finish. It's not just the lyrics - which are absolutely dire - but female rappers Colleen and Tereza should never be allowed to rap again. Or even think about rapping. Their insanely exaggerated pirate accents will begin to grate three seconds into the song. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Album highlight is Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew's rap interpretation of old-as-the-hills sea-shanty 'Blow The Man Down.' The woozy accordion, marching drums and drunken, sing along vocals, contrast humorously against the grim lyrics about bar fights, burning down towns and throwing bodies into the sea. Some of the lyrics are irritatingly, nursery-rhyme neat ("one night I had too much wine / and when I woke up I was surrounded by swine") and some are just plain bizarre. Captain Dan relates a completely nonsensical anecdote about falling into a pig pen, cuddling a few piglets and ending up with a dose of E coli. But, phase out some of the stranger, and more annoying, lyrics, and this merrily tanked-up song will have you swaying happily along in no time.
Following closely in 'Blow The Man Down's footsteps is another classic sea-shanty: 'Drunken Sailor.' Synths pipe along to that instantly recognisable "what shall we do with a drunken sailor" refrain, while Captain Dan piles on the "yar! Yar! Yar!"s over a snappy hip hop beat. It's a blast to listen to from start to finish.
While lacking in that sense of boozy fun, 'Ship To Ship' and 'Pirates Code' are funky, light-electro numbers that'll get you nodding and tapping along.
'Ship To Ship' is the stronger of the two, as a scattering of 'battle-horn' synths put the necessary piratical spin on the music, without detracting from the coolness of that driving electro beat. And, although there's a distinct lack of laugh-out-loud moments, there's still more than enough slick electro beats to keep you hooked. Similarly, 'Pirates Code' is a little short on belly laughs, but its mixture of snappy beats and swirly, piratical-themed synths, makes for enjoyable, novelty listening.
'On The Account' has a more hip hop slant, with a basic and stereotypical hip hop beat and jaunty xylophone refrain keeping proceedings suitably piratical. It's as catchy as 'Pirates Code' and 'Ship To Ship,' until Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew decide that what this song's missing is a vocoder. Because, clearly, what everyone wants to hear is a robot, singing about being a pirate. Here, Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew cross over that 'eccentric' and 'quirky' line, and will most likely have the listener switching off in bewilderment.
Album-closer 'A Pirates Christmas' has one of the most admirably random titles ever, and the song itself doesn't disappoint in terms of sheer, downright bonkersness. Beginning with a list of all the things a pirate crew would request from Santa (glass eyes, pirate flags, macaws) and ending with Santa doing a "ninja flip" off the boat, it'd probably draw a few laughs from a younger demographic. But surely, if you laughed along to 'Calypso's Crabs's tale of contracting STI's, then you're unlikely to find anything humorous in the child-friendly tale of Santa tricking the pirates into stealing a sack full of coal. 'A Pirates Christmas' is entertaining enough, in a silly sort of way, but it makes you question what sort of audience Captain Dan is hoping for.
'From The Seas To The Streets' is an album that doesn't seem sure of its intended effect. The title track, 'That's How We Row,' 'Drunken Sailor' and 'Blow The Man Down' are good, fun tracks, with a few shrewd send-ups of the hip hop and rap genres. However, at times Captain Dan imitates the hip hop genre a little too closely, and you'll be left scratching your head as to whether he's being serious or not. 'Diggin' For Gold,' 'Ladies In Scarlet,' 'Pirates Code' and 'Ship To Ship' have serious lyrics, and yet, it's impossible to take the idea of pirates rapping about being pirates seriously. It's probably best to stick to the aforementioned 'fun' tracks, and treat 'From The Seas To The Streets' as an entertaining, novelty release.