The Vipers

Coffee Bar Session

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The first official Vipers album, following on from the Original Soho Skiffle Group abomination, was recorded with producer George Martin during summer 1957. It is an audacious set, offering some remarkable deviations from the standard skiffle repertoire of the time. A forebodingly blues-drenched "Darlin'" and a frantic version of the revivalist "The Glory Land" are the poles around which the set revolves, sending it spinning through powerhouse renditions of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer" -- songs which are better associated with the later folk boom than this era. Elsewhere, "See See Rider" and Hank Williams' "I Saw the Light" are indicative of musical interests which again stray far beyond the norm. Even more fascinating are the arrangements of traditional songs. While other bands struggle to sound as American as they possibly can, Wally Whyton is hellbent on reminding the listener of his Englishness, even as he looks across the Atlantic for material. Maybe it's stretching a point too far to describe the results as the birth of Brit-pop as we know it today (in terms of a conscious decision, that honor rests with Cliff Richard and the ex-Viper Shadows's debut album). But it is certainly a close blood relation.

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