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The Best of The Vipers, Vol. 2

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This British CD is a long overdue acknowledgment of the work of EMI's most successful skiffle group — it's more manageable financially for most potential fans than Bear Family's four-CD set of the band's complete output, and it's got some superb music. Indeed, this CD may demonstrate, perhaps better than even skiffle king Lonnie Donegan's work, the full range of the music. The Vipers' most visible talent was Wally Whyton, but all of the group members are featured vocally on this 21-song compilation, which includes their two charting singles, "Cumberland Gap" and the Whyton original "Don't You Rock Me, Daddy-O." These guys sounded as authentically American as any act ever to come from the U.K., and they threw 100 percent of themselves into songs like "If I Had a Hammer" (which takes on a physical, visceral immediacy here). The mix of blues, folk, gospel, field hollers, and the sounds of jazz and even some formative rock & roll all come together in a bracing, vibrant whole that is a lot more powerful than one would expect from two acoustic guitars and an upright bass with some percussion — along with Donegan, the Vipers were about the best that skiffle had to offer, and their best is neatly distilled down on this fine little disc.

The Best of The Vipers, Vol. 2, The Vipers
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