Pirate Songs That Don’t, You Know, Suck (Sex Pistols, Alestorm, Ray Stevens, others): Gimme Five

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I’m not sure how many folks actually walked around talking like a pirate today. To be honest, I’ve always had this goofy side that would love to walk around yarring and shivering me timbers all day, maybe even in full get up. But, I also have this thing called a job, and I believe my employers would frown on it. Spoilsports, perhaps, but I enjoy food and electricity, so I have to deal with it.

So instead of strapping on my eyepatch and hoisting the Jolly Roger, I celebrated by taking in some of my favorite pirate songs. While the whole list and more could be made up of Alestorm songs, I limited myself to only one. So here, me hearties, are five pirate songs that don’t suck.

No. 5: RAY STEVENS, “THE PIRATE SONG” (I HAVE RETURNED, 1985): I am incapable of listening to this song without a big grin on my face. Stevens tells the tale of the misfit son of a pirate captain who doesn’t want anything to do with plundering and grogging and wenching. He’d rather sing and dance. There are several versions of this pirate song out there, but the original is still my favorite.

No. 4: SCISSORFIGHT, “THE GRUESOME DEATH OF EDWARD TEACH” (NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1999): From something very light-hearted to something without a bit of light to it at all. This is gritty and ugly, probably not unlike the life of a real pirate, but it has a great heavy groove to it.

No. 3: THE SEX PISTOLS, “FRIGGIN’ IN THE RIGGIN'” (THE GREAT ROCK ‘N” ROLL SWINDLE, 1980): By and large, I consider The Sex Pistols one of those horribly overrated bands that gets way too much credit for what they actually did. That said, I do enjoy some of their songs, and this silly, bawdy ditty is a guilty pleasure.

No. 2: RUNNING WILD, “UNDER JOLLY ROGER” (UNDER JOLLY ROGER, 1987): I couldn’t do this list without including the original pirate metal band. While I love Alestorm, as they readily admit in their tune “Scraping the Barrel,” Running Wild did it much earlier. This song, complete with crashing waves, pirate talk and roaring cannons, is a perfect blending of pirate mythology with 1980s metal attitude.

No. 1: ALESTORM, “KEELHAULED” (BLACK SALES AT MIDNIGHT, 2009): Each of the three full-length records from Scottish folk/pirate metallers Alestorm has been increasingly more fun than the last, but if I have to choose one song to represent them here, “Keelhauled” has to be it. It starts with Christopher Bowes cranking away on his keyboard with the sound of a pirate squeezebox and builds into a thunderously heavy tune about making a crewman that’s gotten on the captain’s side walk the plank. The huge, infectious chorus sticks with you, and like most of the band’s stuff, it’s just fantastic, silly fun with a solid metal backbone.

Ahoy and avast, here are some more pirate songs to check out:
— Pick up anything else by Alestorm. You can’t go wrong.
Swashbuckle: More of a straight thrash band with pirate themes, they’re not quite as much fun as Alestorm, but there’s some good stuff to be found.
Verbal Deception: These guys fall under the uglier brand of pirate metal, with death metal grunts and a little heavier sound, but there are also some nice pirate-y touches. Though they’re not quite on the same level, think Amon Amarth as pirates instead of Vikings.

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips
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