THERE AREN’T many boats better known in song than The John B, an early 1900’s trading sloop in the West Indies. Her crew could infamously pilot her hither and fro while three sheets to the wind…or could until they crashed it in the Bahamas.

Parts of the boat are preserved at Governor’s Harbour in Nassau, and her crew’s derring do is immortalized in The John B’s Sails, a folk song made famous as Sloop John B by the Kingston Trio and the Beach Boys. Their covers, and a faithful rendition of the original by Byrd Roger McGuinn and friends [interesting details here] can be heard above.

And now for a new – and the best yet – version from a surprising source: soft-spoken, moderately successful British folkie Tom McRae. It is the unequivocal gem of a Pet Sounds tribute CD in the June issue of MOJO magazine [Saint Etienne‘s take on Wouldn’t It Be Nice is the other interesting one], and you can hear Tom here: