Sunday, September 15, 2013

Skiffle EPs

Skiffle was the UK's first attempt to reproduce American blues (Leadbelly in particular) and folk material. It grew out of the trad jazz bands of the early fifties with Ken Colyer and Chris Barber leading the way and for a couple of years there was quite a boom. Lonnie Donegan was easily the best of the skiffle stars but others like the Vipers, Chas McDevitt and Johnny Duncan produced a few decent tracks. But for the most part the music was second rate and was quickly shown to be derivative and more often than not insipid. But it was influential, and it wasn't just the Beatles who claimed that it inspired them to take up a guitar, drums or tea chest but other sixties bands as well.
Some early skiffle singles were only released on 78 but there were quite a few EPs released with picture sleeves, many of them featuring tracks unavailable or hard to find as 45 singles. One of the rarest of these is Rock 'n' Skiffle with Jimmy Jackson, a copy of which I picked up at the car boot sale this morning. A former RAF drill instructor, Jimmy had half a dozen singles issued in 1957 and 1958 before disappearing from view. The sleeve is a bit tatty, as are those of many mid fifties EPs, but the record is fine. Best track is this one, California Zephyr, a Hank Williams song.

Here are scans of a few more skiffle EPs that I have, none of them particularly valuable but al interesting in their way.

 Finally, here's a fairly rare 10 inch LP by The Vipers.


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