Lonnie Donegan

Complete Conway: Live 1957

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On January 25, 1957, Lonnie Donegan performed what might have been his most important concert yet, at London's prestigious Conway Hall. It is certainly one of the most legendary, as Pye set the tapes rolling and captured the sound of the future unfolding before its audience's very eyes. Make no mistake, even allowing for the largely unamplified and decidedly folk-tinged sound, this is a live rock & roll album -- the first ever to be recorded in Britain, and still one of the most exciting. The Conway show amounted to just eight complete songs; this set adds on further recordings from the London Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall, all from that same year, and the ensuing production is so seamless that there could be no better representation of the Donegan group in full flood, at the very peak of its commercial and creative powers. The excitement explodes out of the opening number, "On a Monday," and doesn't let up all show long. No less than 15 songs hurtle out of the speakers. "Old Hannah," "Mule Skinner Blues," and "Ella Speed" are early highlights, while a rush of hits in the latter part of the show ("Cumberland Gap," "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O," "Gamblin' Man," "Putting on the Style") is simply sensational, a blur of energy and excitement that leaves the listener drained, even after all these years.

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