Bring 'em Down - Shanty U.K. Archive

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Bring 'em Down

Shanties
Bring 'Em Down

This shanty appeared on A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl's 1962 album 'A Sailor's Garland' and was subsequently recorded by several prominent folk revival artists such as The Young Tradition (1967); Louis Killen (1970 and 1976); and Roy Harris (1974). In  1971 Steeleye Span, with Martin Carthy singing the lead, sang it on two separate John Peel Radio 1 sessions: in 2006 each of these recordings was included as a bonus track on two re-issued albums.


In the sleeve notes to 'A Sailor's Garland', Lloyd comments: "Like  Bold Riley O, this tune was brought to Liverpool from the West Indies where a variant of it had served as a challenging stick-fight song."

And on the 2004 compilation CD  'Sailors' Songs & Sea Shanties' the sleeve notes to the Roy Harris track say:
"A heavy-haul, one-pull shanty with a triple-stamp refrain. Some of the words refer to ports of Chile and Peru and the memorable girls thereof, but that doesn't mean that this shanty was limited to the West Coast run."


In fact, it doesn't necessarily mean that it was ever sung at sea as a working shanty, as it appears to have been totally unknown before Lloyd recorded it. Like Bold Riley, while drawing on traditional sources,
it is probably mostly Lloyd's handiwork, and shows some of his hallmarks such as recycling "floating verses" from other shanties, and re-locating it to, or at least mentioning, Liverpool.

Roud Number
Click to play MIDI file
Bring 'Em Down
Bring 'Em Down

In Liverpool I was born,

Bring 'em down

And London is me home from home.

Bring 'em down


Them Rotherhithe girls are mighty fine,

Bring 'em down

They're never a day behind their time.

Bring 'em down


Now it's round Cape Horn we go,

Bring 'em down

Round Cape Stiff in the frost and snow.

Bring 'em down


And up the coast to Vallipo,

Bring 'em down

And northward to Callao.

Bring 'em down


Them Callao girls I do adore,

Bring 'em down

They takes it all and ask for more.

Bring 'em down


Them Vallipo girls puts on a show,

Bring 'em down

They wiggle their arse with a roll and go!

Bring 'em down


Now it's back home to Liverpool,

Bring 'em down

Spend my pay like a bloody fool.

Bring 'em down

 
Oh,I'm Liverpool born and bred,

Bring 'em down

Thick in the arm and thick in the head!

Bring 'em down


Them Liverpool girls I do admire,

Bring 'em down

They set your rigging all a-fire.

Bring 'em down

 
Oh, rock and roll me over, boys,

Bring 'em down

Let's get this damn job over, boys!

Bring 'em down

Recorded by The Shanty Crew
Play MP3
Bring 'Em Down, sung by The Shanty Crew
Bobbin up and down

This appears to be the song which A.L. Lloyd referred to as a "stick fight song". It appeared in a book published in London in 1907 by the Folklore Society and written by Walter Jekyll (1849-1929).

The famous garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, was his sister. After university, he entered the Anglican priesthood, becoming a Minor Canon of Worcester Cathedral and later Chaplain of Malta, but renounced the priesthood around 1880. His friend, Robert Louis Stevenson, asked if he could use Jekyll's surname for his new book - 'The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", which appeared in 1886. As Jekyll suffered badly from asthma in England, on his mother's death he moved to Jamaica, where he bought a  plantation and remained until his death. His book, entitled
'Jamaican Song and Story - Annancy stories, digging sings, ring tunes, and dancing tunes', contains this song, which he calls "A Somerset Me Barn"



It
is actually a contest to see who can dig the most yam-hills in a given time. The men of the Somerset plantation challenge two neighbouring estates and big themselves up: the leader boasts of his prowess - I was born at Somerset; and his companions all sing the chorus (called a "bobbin" in Jamaica) Bring them on. Bring them, let me beat them; Bring them on. I will take my pickaxe and beat them; Bring them on.

And of course the opponents reply in kind -
I was born at Woburn Lawn; Bring them on; I should like to see them beat me; Bring them on. I was born at Goatridge; Bring them on. I should like to see them beat me. Bring them on

Bring 'em on...
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