Rock Island Line: The Singles Anthology 1955-1967

by: Lonnie Donegan

For most listeners, the three-disc, 86-track Sanctuary/Castle collection Rock Island Line: The Singles Anthology 1955-1967 will be nearly as overwhelming as the eight-disc, all-encompassing Bear Family box More Than "Pye in the Sky," since a little Lonnie Donegan can go a long way for the average listener. But, for those who decide to dig into this collection, they'll quickly discover that he was a remarkably consistent performer and a little more diverse than his skiffle origins would suggest. Skiffle might have been a bit of a straightjacket -- it had very rigid rhythmic rules -- but Donegan acted more like a folksinger anyway, using skiffle as his foundation and then delving into American folk and country, blues, and a little bit of gospel. He was a good singer and a lively performer, navigating these changes rather easily, and while there wasn't necessarily great development over the years, there was consistency. So, if you decide that you need a comprehensive Lonnie Donegan collection that is nevertheless not entirely complete, this is an excellent choice, but do be forewarned: If you're not already converted, a little of this does go a long way. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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