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The Boston Globe

Music

Album Review | POP

Various Artists, ‘Son of Rogues Gallery’

It’s an interesting conceit: How do you breathe new life into a tradition as old as pirate ballads, sea songs, and chanteys? Producer Hal Willner first explored that realm on 2006’s “Rogue’s Gallery.” For that album’s unnecessary follow-up, Willner enlisted another all-star cast that includes Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Dr. John, and Iggy Pop. You’ve got contributors who look like pirates (Richards and Johnny Depp, who executive-produced the two-disc collection with Gore Verbinksi) and at least two who sing like one (Marianne Faithfull and the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan). It works better in theory than in practice. So many of these collaborations (Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, together at last) feel like they were recorded separately and pieced together in a studio. Richards and Waits make a fine pair on “Shenandoah,” and Shilpa Ray turns out a fierce performance on “Pirate Jenny,” even though Nick Cave’s backing vocals are incidental at best. The rest of this album is as aimless as a ship with no captain at the wheel. (Out Tuesday)

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