The Longest Johns - Smoke and Oakum

The Longest Johns
Smoke & Oakum LP

As Show Of Hands once mentioned, ‘branch, stem, shoot; they need roots’ and The Longest Johns are certainly drawing on deep roots once again in Smoke & Oakum.

The album flows effortlessly from a capella vocal compositions to accompanied songs, much like their previous long-player, Cures What Ails Ya. From the wise choice of opener, ‘Hard Time Come Again’, all the way through to the jovial ‘Beer Is Great’, there’s a great a varied collection of folk and shanty songs.

For those who like a songy track, there are lots here, ‘The Mary Ellen Carter’, ‘Nantucket’, and ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ are well produced and the instruments add interest without stealing the show. For those who want to hear vocal storytelling, ‘Pride of The White Star Line’, ‘Hammer And The Anvil’, ‘Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmate’ supply the goods.

Equally contrasting is the light and dark, with ‘The Workers Song’, ‘Hard Times…’, and ‘Downed and Drowned’ providing tones dark and gritty in contrast to some of the lighter moments (with ‘Beer Is Great’ being the lightest of these).

What is really apparant on all the songs, no matter how they might be organised or classified, is the personality of this band. This is really the factor that has seen them crash through the giant TikTok shanty wave and emerge with all their emeralds still aboard. The Longest Johns aren’t a craze, they are a national asset.

You can find links out to Smoke & Oakum on various platforms, and on CD, Vinyl, and Cassette on The Longest Johns music page.

Written by Beck on

Michael Beck is a long-time writer for [the-mag] and Phonotonal.
Michael Beck

Discover More Music