Album: Live
Label: Soliton
Tracks: 16

On YouTube somewhere there is a very embarrassing video of me rather over enthusiastically trying to finish off a very frothy pint of Cameron's Strongarm in a Hartlepool pub. Although this caused great amusement to my friends and work colleagues the real stars of the video were the Polish five man shanty group Brasy who were there to perform at the Headland Folk Festival. As it happens they will be making a repeat appearance at that Festival this coming weekend.

I was struck then by not just the power of their singing but the perfect harmonies and the pure joy that they radiated - which was duly reflected in the audiences beatific expressions. Unsurprisingly this live CD elicited a similar reaction from me as that pub performance did (though without the Strongarm this time!). Amongst the familiar songs and shanties sung variously in English and Polish are 'Loch Lomond', 'Lowlands', 'Hard Times', 'Hilo Jimmy Brown', 'Haul Away', 'Stary Malarky' and, ending the CD, 'Drunken Sailor'. There is even a superb version of the Volga boatmen's song. Although the language may differ from song to song what is consistent is the quality of the performance and the lovely reverberant sound - often just the voices but with the addition of guitar on some songs.

The recording appears to be largely unedited with the introductions to the songs included (in Polish of course) and a discussion between - presumably - the presenter of the gig and the band at the end of one song. The overall impression is of a wonderful evening of music which anyone in or around London or the northern venues which the band are visiting in their tour this month can, and really should, experience.

Joe Grint

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