The Peter Donegan Band

Live at the Elephant

The Peter Donegan Band: Live at the ElephantBack in the 1950s, my generation had to think hard before buying a record. We were very conscious of getting good value, so often the B-side of a single was as important as the A-side, because both sides were going to be listened to many times. TV (black and white only) wasn’t much competition for a Dansette most of the time, so a single which contained two good tracks was preferable to ‘Emergency Ward 10’.

There were a few acts who could be relied on to ensure that both sides of a single were not merely listenable, but obviously the right stuff. Buddy Holly, with or without The Crickets, was one, The Everly Brothers another, Elvis, of course (until the army), Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee and Little Richard (usually), and the only British name on the list, LONNIE DONEGAN.

Lonnie had a long string of hits from 1956, several of which are recreated here by his son, Peter, who has undoubtedly inherited his father’s talent, although the main difference is that Peter’s main instrument is the piano, rather than the guitar, which was Lonnie’s favoured accompaniment. Peter, who contributed keyboards and vocals to Lonnie’s live show for several years, also plays guitar, harmonica and banjo, but it’s his vocal style which reminds me most of Lonnie.

At this point, Peter prefers to perform and play the songs which initially made his father a star, and the names of Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), Woody Guthrie, The Weavers and others from the era which just pre-dated rock’n’roll are among the songwriters represented here. Mind you, Peter is also aware that there are fans of his dad’s musical hall material, like ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’ and ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight’, and when an audience has been receptive, requests for these songs may be granted.

The band which Peter assembled for this live album includes his brother, David Donegan, on percussion, Michael Bailey on bass and backing vocals, Michael’s wife, Rachael, on violin and accordion, Mark Anderson (lead guitar, backing vocals) and guest drummer Ray Laidlaw from Lindisfarne.

Before long, Peter Donegan’s talent should be recognized as widely as his father’s. Peter has already written a number of excellent songs, and this will become his direction in the future. ‘Just One Kiss’ is included here to demonstrate his potential, and this album will be the first of many for a star of the future.

John Tobler, 2006

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