THE VIPERS - Don't You Rock Me Daddy-) - The Best Of
September of 1956...A quintet consisting of future children’s TV host Wally Whyton, Johnny Booker, Jean Van Der Bosch, Tony Tolhurst and John Pilgrim auditioned for the head of Parlophone Records, George Martin. They signed up in January of 1957, their second single, an song by Whyton called “Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O,” became a top ten hit. Several more hits followed. Pre - Beatles, The Vipers were George Martin’s biggest signing to reach the British teen market. In fact their hit single Maggie May was to influence a group called The Quarrymen, who 5 years later also signed to Parlophone, having changed their name to The Beatles, and eight years after that, released their own version on Let It Be. After Lonnie Donegan, they were the most successful skiffle act in Britain, with half a dozen singles between Nov. 56 - Oct. 58. They also became one of the biggest stage attractions among British groups. A lovingly compiled 21 track collection featuring all the hit singles, album tracks as well as a couple of rarities – this truly The Very Best Of
The Cumberland Gap: Homing Bird: Railroad Steamboat: If I Had A Hammer: The Glory Land: Wanderin’: Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O: Skiffle Party Part 1: Comin’ Round The Mountain / On Top Of Old Smokey / Rock Island Line: Pick A Bale Of Cotton: Maggie May: Hey Liley Liley-Lo: John B. Sails: Pay Me My Money Down: Easy Rider: The Streamline Train: 10,000 Years Ago: Skiffle Party Part 2: Wabash Cannonball / Gimme Crack Corn / Skip To My Lou: Jim Dandy: I Know The Lord Laid His Hands On Me: I Saw The Light: Last Train To San Fernando / Putting On The Style:
The Skiffle craze that gripped the country for an all-too-short season owed its origins to Ken Colyer, who, with John Bastable, Mike Kelly and Colin Bowden, featured a short session during performances by his Jazzmen.. What followed was stylistically very different from Colyer’s laid-back renditions but it took the public by storm.
Top of the heap was Lonnie Donegan (himself ex-Colyer) but he was run close by The Vipers Skiffle Group. Apparently, there was little love lost between them.
Here we have some of the earlier recordings by The Vipers, Walt Whyton, (commercial artist) Johnny Martyn (coffee house manager) Jan Van der Bosch (wire salesman) Tony Tolhurst (musical instrument repairer) and journalist John Pilgrim. Although only semi-professional, they topped the bill for a season at the Prince Of Wales Theatre only a few months after forming.
A hearing of these tracks shows clearly the difference between The Vipers and most other groups – in the main a more imaginative musicianly approach. Cumberland Gap, for example, has a single string intro and solo. Vocals, unlike most groups, did not rely on one singer, with all but Pilgrim contributing. Some thought also went into the allocation, with Van der Bosch’s lusty voice adding realism to Take This Hammer.
Johnny Martyn’s abrasive tones were well suited to Pick A Bale Of Cotton and others, while he collaborated with Whyton harmonizing on Worried Man and I Saw The Light while Walt and Jan fit together nicely on the old spiritual I Know The Lord Laid His Hands On Me.
A rarity on Hey Liley and 10,000 Years Ago has bassist Tony Tolhurst taking the introductions – indeed probably unique in the annals of skiffle. The latter track also features some scat singing in the Armstrong tradition. Then there is the bluesy guitar intro to Easy Rider and a solo (probably by Whyton) that shows a strong Django influence on Pay Me My Money. The neat Choo-Choo effect that opens and closes Streamline Train shows the thought that went into every number.
Whyton’s solo feature on Wanderin’ is another departure, with a quiet, reflective offering not often heard among the skifflers.
The pianist added on Jim Dandy and the Party record sounds like Mike Kelly stylistically while the closing track is a cover of the Johnny Duncan and Donegan hits.
When skiffle died, The Vipers turned to R&R, and Wally Whyton later sang to Pussycat Willum