New album combines songs of the sea with music icons … plus Johnny Depp

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Click below to listen to Tom Waits grind through a 150-plus-year-old sea chanty, with some help from Keith Richards. Then read on for what, as best we can tell, is going on here.

Waits’ haunting, gravelly, somehow peaceful yet frightening-as-all-get-out version of “Shenandoah” sets the tone nicely for “Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys,” a two-disc set of 36 nautical-themed songs that’ll be available at your local Amazon page starting Feb. 19.

It’s the second such collection put together by Grammy-winning music producer Hal Willner; the first one, released in 2006, included tracks from Sting, Rufus Wainwright and Bono; an offering from actor John C. Reilly; and a version of “Drunken Sailor” by David Thomas that can best be described as … scratch that, it can’t really be described.

The upcoming album can compete on both star power and eclectic grounds. Along with Waits and Richards, there’s Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan singing “Leaving for Liverpool” with Johnny Depp and “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski, Depp teaming with Patti Smith on “The Mermaid,” and a version of “Marianne” with this traditional seafaring trio: Tim Robbins, alt-rocker Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, lead singer of 1980s girl group The Bangles.

Throw in Macy Gray, Sean Lennon, Frank Zappa and a duet between REM’s Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, and one might think that for a compilation of sea songs, “Son of Rogues Gallery” has reached the limits of sanity.

One would be wrong.

We leave with a link to one last track, with a name unsuitable for publication in a family blog. Here’s Iggy Pop with folk artists A Hawk and a Hacksaw, giving their take on “An A**hole Rules the Navy.”

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