Great British Skiffle Series - Just about as good as it gets!
The "Just about as good as it gets! " series received 4 and 5 star reviews and has been selling consistently since the day it was released. These lovingly mastered recordings on a series of double collections are bringing us lots of goodies that were consistently charting in the fourties and fifties as well as some diamonds that never reached this side of the Atlantic.
It's unlikely that many Brits of the 1950s ever picked a bale of cotton, lay their burden down by the riverside or rode a train that was 24 coaches long. Nonetheless, when a motley crew of renegade UK jazzers began celebrating that imagery of Americana with a mix of respectful and playful gusto, soon inspiring a younger generation of would-be rockers to strum along, a rowdy revolution swept the country. They called it Skiffle.
Commercially the Skiffle phenomenon was dominated by Lonnie Donegan (SCCD1123 & 1190) who'd bounced off his mentors, Ken Colyer and Chris Barber. Other hitmakers included Wally Whyton's Vipers and Chas McDevitt with Nancy Whiskey. But as Smith & Co's four previous volumes in this series have vibrantly showcased, across the nation there was a whole lotta skifflin' going on. This fifth volume concludes the most authoritative, comprehensive and joyous guide to a remarkable period in British music history. When the old country learned a lick & trick from across the pond, swirled it around the palate for awhile, added the zest of R&R and R&B and some unfamiliar accents, then shipped it back across the Atlantic with knobs on. Without Skiffle, no Beatles, no Stones, no dice.
The fourth volume in this series is as fresh and fun filled as the previous 3 volumes of British Skiffle released on Smith & Co. The young enthusiastic musicians who discovered American R&B and Blues and gave it what was to become a uniquely British music style were unbelievably productive during the latter half of the fifties. All the great names featured on the previous releases are on show again with yet more skiffle of their hits as well as many hidden gems which have been discovered with the help of feedback from many of the fans who have bought the albums.With all three volumes released to date still selling on a weekly basis, this album, once again packed to the limit with 59 tracks, will be a sure fire addition for all collectors of the "Just about as good as it gets!" series.
Volume 3 of “Skiffle - Just about as good as it gets!” is a superb third chapter in a unique collection covering the finest recordings in this uniquely British genre! To quote Dave Travis, the compiler, “I think I can safely say that it has been so very enjoyable to be able to put together another fine collection of British Skiffle, the like of which we surely will never hear again. A prominent British Rock ‘n’ Roll magazine recently pondered the question as to how was it possible that the standard of Volume 2 was every bit as good as Volume 1? The answer, of course, is that despite the panning skiffle often received in the 1950’s press, an extraordinary quantity of fine music was laid down at the time and thankfully has survived. So rest assured this Volume 3 of British Skiffle is bang up to standard. Sit back, remember and enjoy…”
It will almost certainly never be possible to estimate the importance of the set of recordings made at the Decca Studios on July 13th. 1954 by the Chris Barber Jazz Band for a projected 10” L.P. ‘New Orleans Joys’. After completing the band’s section of the album, Barber joined up on bass with Lonnie Donegan on guitar and Beryl Bryden on washboard to record a couple of old Leadbelly songs as the Lonnie Donegan skiffle group. The LP was released to enormous acclaim and tremendous sales, resulting in singles being culled from the LP, until finally, after huge listener reaction to a play on BBC Radio, ‘Rock Island Line/John Henry’ were issued on the Decca Jazz Label in November 1955.
Lonnie was the catalyst, the man, who gave young people of that time, the feeling that they could make music. Hundreds of skiffle groups emerged all over the UK, most being amateur and simply having fun, whilst a select few rose above the rank of amateur and became extremely proficient, signing record deals and touring. A very small number had Hit records & achieved star status including Chas McDevitt & Nancy Whisky, the Vipers, Johnny Duncan and Bob Cort.
This collection follows on from the skiffle trail started in volume one, with an even stronger tracklisting as the music approached it’s zenith. Sadly those wonderful Skiffling days are long gone, but the musical memories will always be sweet. Skiffle took many a knock in it’s heyday from critics, who slammed it’s inherent simplicity, but, listening today, it is so gratifying to realise that actually those pundits were wrong, and to hear again just how good so many of the original Skiffle records actually were.
A lively, informal interpretation of early American roots music, Skiffle was initially performed in the UK in the late 1940s and early '50s by the rhythm sections of traditionalist jazz bands as a sort of novelty interlude during the bands' principal set. The 'novelty' became a constantly requested attraction and with the rise to fame of Lonnie Donegan (ref. SCCD1123) Skiffle changed forever a lot of young Britons perceptions of music. Given the starchy, repressive, post-war austerity in Britain at the time, it's not too far fetched to say that Skiffle was equivalent to punk rock of its era. This mid-price, 55 track double rounds up all the important Skiffle recordings of the period, there is no better compilation on the market.
The first four releases in Smith&Co's 'Just About As Good As It Gets!' series have been compiled and annotated by Dave Travis, a musician, label owner and publisher with a longstanding knowledge of his subject. They are being promoted to all relevant press and radio outlets by Go-For-It Promotions and will be advertised in relevant publications.