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My Old Man's a Dustman - Single

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Album Review

Skiffle was long dead by the time Donegan — its founding father and guiding light — cut this album, but that didn't stop the title track from topping the Canadian and British charts in March 1960. And 40-plus years later it was still an effervescent slice of fast-punning, lousy-joking singalong daftness. Not, one hastens to add, that this a comedy record. Donegan himself described his music as "folk songs with a jazz treatment," cut through with a passion for old George Formby, but as the '60s dawned, he had a keen eye on the emergent rock & roll as well. The result, across his most adventurous album yet, is a wild celebration, a hybrid which loops twanging electric guitars with scratching washboard rhythms, then rockets forward from there — "Fort Worth Jail" would not have shamed Eddie Cochran. Yet even that is not the best thing in sight. In years to come, the Beach Boys would rewrite the traditional "I Wanna Go Home" as "Sloop John B"; armed with that knowledge, Donegan's version of the original song sounds impossibly eclectic, and might well be superior. For all its musical versatility, though, Dustman is essentially a good-time rockin' party album, and it goes out with the kind of bang one wishes every family get-together could close with, a maniacally wired snatch of "Knees up Mother Brown." It's less than a minute long and there's not a dreadful pun in sight. But it rounds out the album in perfect style and ensures that this is one disc which his old man will never be finding in anyone's dustbin.


Born: 29 April 1931 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Folk

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

To look at Lonnie Donegan today, in pictures taken 40 years ago when he was topping the British charts and hitting the Top Ten in America, dressed in a suit, his hair cut short and strumming an acoustic guitar, he looks like a musical non-entity. But in 1954, before anyone (especially anybody in England) knew what rock & roll was, Donegan was cool, and his music was hot. He's relatively little remembered outside of England, but Donegan shares an important professional attribute with Elvis Presley,...
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My Old Man's a Dustman - Single, Lonnie Donegan
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