- 10 Mar 23
Van gets back to basics
For the uninitiated, the ‘50s skiffle genre was a good-time amalgam of folk, blues, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll, which inspired countless big beasts of pop and rock, including The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin and one Van Morrison.
With Moving On Skiffle, Van pays homage to his roots, revelling in the chance to sing songs he clearly loves, while effortlessly leaving his unique stamp all over them. You can almost hear him smile at the sheer pleasure of it all through the 23 tracks, but then he’s been immersed in these songs for most of his musical life.
He takes Elizabeth Cotten’s ‘Freight Train’ at a faster lick than other versions, skittishly decking it out with some fierce organ-playing. There’s a bluegrass feel to the jolly ‘Sail Away, Ladies’ with its stirring mouthharp, fiddle and infectious “Don’t you rock me daddio” chorus.
Van also brings a gospel exuberance to his adaptation of the American civil rights anthem This Loving Light Of Mine’, and there’s a far less casual approach to ‘Worried Man Blues’ than you get with, say, Johnny Cash or the Carter Family.
Nor has Van lost his rebellious streak: he’s adapted the title of Tampa Red’s ‘Mama Don’t Allow’ to ‘Gov Don’t Allow’, shaking an angry fist at a totalitarian government that won’t even allow a washboard “in here”. I expect committed fans of the genre to find much to drool over, while new recruits will hardly find a better, or more pleasurable, way in.