Rhythm & Blues Records presents a new series of double CDs highlighting the 240 or so songs most frequently performed by British beat and blues artists. Volume One spotlights the pre-Beatles skiffle and folk era and ties this in to the Blues Boom group material of the late 1960s. Three further volumes concentrate on Merseybeat, the London scene and the jazz and soul sounds that influenced the mod movement. In the late 1960s, when US college youth were likely to buy anything British labelled ‘heavy’, ‘progressive’ or ‘blues’, the brand-leaders of the British Invasion: The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Ten Years After, The Jeff Beck Group and Led Zeppelin were, without exception, born out of the American music included in this fascinating collection.
Teenagers in post-war America weren’t particularly fond of folk, blues or country and western; that was the stuff that their parents liked. Yet to some of their counterparts in ration-book Britain, this music seemed to offer messages from an intriguing culture half a world away. Lonnie Donegan’s hit album ‘King of Skiffle’ engendered a craze among British teenagers for reproducing and even recording these sounds in their suburban bedrooms or provincial youth clubs, on cheap guitars and homemade instruments. The skiffle sound spread like wildfire across the UK before its more discerning practitioners reverted, towards a more rock ‘n’ roll style, taking their fusion back to North America whence it had come, in a ‘British Invasion’.