Mudcat Café message #2990225 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132214   Message #2990225
Posted By: legrande111
20-Sep-10 - 09:04 AM
Thread Name: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?

(Now I've signed in, 'Guest' has become 'LeGrande111'.)

Having read your initial post more carefully I concede that you expressed reservations about Korner's potential. Sorry!

The second point: It's my belief that no subsequent bands equalled the quality of the Wright/Ashman/Nichols line-up. Jimmy Currie was an adequate replacement for Wright, whose shoes would have been impossible to fill entirely whoever had been hired.

I wrote:

"It was actually the B-side of the frenetic 'Fort Worth Jail'; by then Les Bennetts had taken the guitar 'chair' in the group (something I'll always see as the beginning of the end, musically!), but 'Whoa Buck' had been in the can for some months and still benefitted from Jimmy Currie's tasteful playing."

Les Bennetts is the guitarist who is exclusively featured in those 1959-onwards 'Putting On The Donegan'. That's a shame, in my view, because the POTD clips are virtually all the footage that remains of Donegan in his hit-making days. If only they'd been made just a year earlier! Les just sounded to me like a clumsy, slightly flashy player falling back on some tired-sounding phrases he'd borrowed from the popular American country music recordings of the day - lots of pentatonic trickery, no substance.

So: we agree, perhaps, regarding the POTD material. I'm playing with younger musicians here in the US and they're curious about my early inspiration, yet I'm loathe to point them to the myriad YouTube clips of Lonnie Donegan - they're all a bit contaminated by the indifferent guitar-player, and fail to recall the magic of LD's best work.

As far as his final days are concerned, we're going to have to agree to differ; they sound like rock musicians to me, and are missing that subtle jazz influence that permeated the earliest line-ups. I know that LD himself was satisfied with his later bands, but I was never totally convinced that he realised just how good his 1956-57 work was. Amazingly, Donegan remained convinced that his later reworking of 'Rock Island Line', complete with overdriven guitar-licks, thunderous drum-figures et al, was an improvement on his original!

Chris Barber:

"Lost John" is wonderful, yet there's no Denny Wright here - he was yet to join up, but Chris B. actually provides a spirited obligato on his double-bass! Great stuff!

Roger Rettig (LeGrande111)