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Muleskinner Blues
Lonnie Donegan

(Released in the UK 4th January 1999)

  1. Muleskinner Blues (w/Van Morrison)
  2. Please Don't Call Me In The Morning
  3. Rock Island Line
  4. When I Get Off This Feeling
  5. Fancy Talking Tinker
  6. I'm Alabammy Bound (w/Van Morrison)
  7. Stewball
  8. Skiffle
  9. The Welfare Line
  10. All Together Now
  11. I Don't Wanna Lose You
  12. Poker Club
  13. Spanish Nights
  14. Always From The Heart

  • See the Glossary entry for skiffle for more information on Lonnie Donegan.

    Review from Alan Lloyd:
    "Our voices on these two songs are so compatible, that it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart - Van may not find this flattering, but I certainly do".

    So says Lonnie Donnegan in the notes to his new CD Muleskinner Blues. While I can't agree with his comparison, They do complement each other well. I have always found Donnegan's London vowels a little at odds with the essential Americanism of the "folk/roots" music he was associated with in the 50's, and which forms the bulk of this album. However his nasal style suits the countryish Spanish Nights which also features some fine Spanish acoustic guitar from Paco Javier Jimeno. Rufus Thibodeaux (fiddle) and Joel Sonnier (accordion) add some cajun flavour to a couple of tracks.

    The band is well chosen & includes members of Chris Barber's band. My favourite tracks are the two Van collaborations (natch) and the remake of "Rock Island Line" This track starts off slow and bluesy, and build to the more "rockin'" tempo of the original.

    "Muleskinner Blues" is done quite differently from the jazzy version on the Jimmy Rodgers tribute album. The two voices do complement each other well. Somewhat similar in style to "Western Plains" from TPS, but this is more fun.

    "Alabammy Bound" is a version of a song (sometimes known as "don't leave me here") which was first published in sheet music form in 1909 and is probably somewhat older than that. This is taken at a slow soulful pace, with some nice 12-string guitar with Van in good voice.

    These 2 will be essential to keen Van fans. Many will like the rest of the CD.

    From the February issue of Mojo magazine:
    As part of a story by Patrick Humphries on the release of Muleskinner Blues (characterized as "the first studio album in 20 years from the King of Skiffle"):

    Humphries: What was it like working with Van Morrison on Muleskinner Blues?

    Donnegan: Van had been on at me for years to have a go at doing the old skiffle stuff. It was a total challenge, like arm-wrestling with plectrums. He wanted "Rock Island Line", "Stewball", all the old skiffle hits, because that's what he grew up on. Van has a very strong emotional attachment to that period. We were in Belfast recently, and he wanted to do all the old skiffle stuff--but you put the name Van Morrison on a poster, and people turn up wanting to see a Van Morrison concert. We recorded the show, a real old-fashioned skiffle set, no rehearsals. Van was mostly on the side having orgasms. Dr. John was in town, and he's on it too."

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