The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry
Released in 2006, Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry is this outstanding folk singers latest album. A wonderful collection of whaling songs, The Great Leviathan is perhaps the best argument against the evil that is whaling in modern times, and with this album Spooner firmly adds his booming voice to the calls to finally cease this appalling, tragic evil.
Danny Spooner's usual outstanding ability to tell a gripping story through his songs and his marvelous, sensitive renditions provide the vessel that carries this message to us so effectively.
These whaling songs span the early 17th to the 20th centuries and range from all over the anglophone world, with one French song also included. Most are traditional, but there are also some fine examples from the 20th century whaler Harry Robertson, and the album closes with a deeply sad song written in 1989 by Englishman Andy Barnes who has a stark warning for us all that it isn't only the whale that we endanger but indeed, ourselves. Danny Spooner poses, in the context of this song in his superb sleeve notes, "When will we realise that this little planet of ours has finite resources." We certainly seem to manage to pay plenty of lip service to this problem. But, as a society, are we really ever actually doing anything about it, or others equally pressing such as climate change? Of course not... Not happening. Unlikely to ever happen, at least, until it's far too late. And thus we are headed the same way as the great leviathan and all the countless other species whose extinction we are responsible for.
But Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan has many other sub-texts as well. His stated purpose also was to acknowledge that there was a time when whaling contributed to the well-being of many people, and further to remember those tough whale men of old who, in their struggle to make a living, pitted themselves against an "adversary" who at least still had a chance. This, however, no longer applies. Modern whaling leaves the whale no chance of survival. Nor is there the slightest justification for whaling in modern times, for nothing that the whale provides cannot be produced synthetically or by other means, and far more efficiently at that. All that is left perhaps, is the greed, the lust for the taste of whale meat.
The Great Leviathan is undoubtedly the saddest of Danny Spooner's albums yet, in its subject matter and emotional context. But it is nonetheless also glorious, as any of his albums. Spooner's wonderful strong voice is a joy, as is his English concertina especially. He is also very ably assisted on some of the tracks by the additional vocals of Duncan Brown and Pam Connell's wonderful button accordion. Listening to this album, or indeed any of Danny Spooner's other albums, is a bit like watching a movie. But the pictures are so much better! Spooner, as is customary for him, provides a complete listening experience that is exceptional.
Danny Spooner's The Great Leviathan - Songs of the Whaling Industry is a hugely enjoyable gem of an album, utterly compelling and consistent, and completely enchanting. It is beyond essential in any collection of anglophone folk song, and particularly also any collection of songs associated with the sea.
© 2006 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.