Lonnie Donegan Showcase

by: Lonnie Donegan

The first great blues album to come out of England. Donegan's debut album is absolutely first-rate acoustic folk-blues, featuring some of the songs he'd been playing for close to 10 years, including "Frankie And Johnny," and stuff he learned off of Leadbelly records like "I'm Alabammy Bound," among other folk and blues standards. The sound is raw and crisp, featuring Denny Wright's crisp lead guitar licks behind Donegan's emphatic strumming and superb vocals. He didn't have Elvis' rich baritone, but he could wail the blues better than anyone in England at the time (including Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies), and he knew how to make the tension in a song rise across five minutes like no one else around. Leroy Carr's "How Long How Long Blues" gets a good workout, but the highlight of this forgotten jewel of an album is Donegan's moody rendition of "I'm A Ramblin' Man," a dark blues standard that shows off the guitar interplay between Donegan and Wright to great effect and features what may be Donegan's best blues vocal ever. Leadbelly's "I'm Alabammy Bound" gives Donegan and Wright a chance to share vocals, to great effect (Wright had this coarse bass/baritone that went well with Donegan's blues tenor). Note: The contents of Showcase are available on Bear Family's 8-CD set More Than "Pye In The Sky." ~ Bruce Eder

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