Various Artists

Skiffle Revival

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British skiffle emerged in the mid-'50s as a ragtag amalgam of American folk, rockabilly, Tin Pan Alley glibness, music hall hokum, New Orleans street music, and a huge dose of jug band sensibility. Lonnie Donegan gave it some commercial viability when his version of Leadbelly's "Rock Island Line" was an international hit in 1956, and the anyone-can-do-this feel of the music meant countless skiffle bands popped up almost overnight in the U.K. (including John Lennon's first band, the Quarrymen). Skiffle was soon supplanted by rock & roll on the pop charts, but it never really died as a musical form in Britain, and countless neighborhood skiffle bands continue to carry on the tradition in the 21st century, thankfully without evolving too far from the music's jug band roots. The generous Skiffle Revival compilation of modern music from Raucous Records is a complete delight, an energetic block party from start to finish, with enough kazoos and washboards to keep it offhand and street friendly and enough postmodern pop smarts to make it viable, vital, and contemporary. Among the many highlights here are the infectious lead track, "Everlasting, Shining Peace of Mind" by the Gutter Brothers, a steam-driven version of Uncle Dave Macon's "Don't You Rock Me Daddio" by Ivor & the Engines, an inventive rendition of "Orange Blossom Special" by the Mossam Skiffle Train, and the eerie, druggy "Sandie" by the Dog House Skiffle Band. Skiffle will probably never die because it is just simple enough (and adaptable enough) to be trend-proof, and it is well known that a band with a good kazoo front line can cut through any din -- what could be cooler than that?

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