|Live At Western Star, Ugly Dog Skiffle Combo
Western Star WSRC 004
Ugly Dog Skiffle Combo was formed in September 2000 in North Norfolk. After Dawg House was put on hold because of too many personal commitments, Clive (Double Bass/Vocals) and Wayne (Guitar/Vocals) kept getting together on an informal basis, to learn and play all the songs that would never have fitted in to a rock 'n' roll set list, just for pleasure. These ranged from folk and country to punk and heavy metal!
At the time, Wayne was working with Steve Gilmour (Drummer from the Booze Bothers) and when Beach Radio, doing their trial broadcast from North Walsham, asked Dawg House to play live on the station they had to tell them that the band wasn't together anymore but could still play but acoustically as Steve, Clive and Wayne. When The band arrived they were joined by Mark Beckley on guitar also, who had played from time to time in the Dawg House line-up. The band performed the skiffle classic "Freight Train" and an old hillbilly song "Matchbox". During the interview, the band members were asked what they called themselves. With no name planned they went with an idea dreamed up for a laugh of the Ugly Dog Skiffle Combo, Ugly Dog being a competition held in a cold Canadian town called Yellowknife where they judge the locals hounds to see which looks the most offensive! Clive and Wayne were both fairly ugly so it seemed appropriate.
The core of the band, Steve, Clive and Wayne decided this was a great opportunity to play absolutely anything, anywhere with anybody. Ugly Dog's line up was snare drum, double bass and guitar, which can be played totally acoustically which gave them the flexibility to play anywhere. The songs were well know to the extent that anybody who plays will know some of them and be welcome to join in. There are no restrictions on skiffle as found in other bands, you can play anything from Nursery Rhymes to modern rock songs but as long as you play it with that skiffle beat and traditional instruments it all fits together just as well. Skiffle music is more about playing songs on home-made(ish) instruments rather than what you play.
This new CD was recorded live at Alan Wilson's Western Star Studio, and it does indeed combine many styles of music. There are some great covers from the likes of Lonnie Donnegan, Vipers Skiffle Group, Cochran Brothers, Buddy Holly, Nancy Sinatra, Chas McDevitt, and many more. Yes, you're quite right, this is not exactly a rockabilly album, but nevertheless the album still rocks quite a lot. I enjoyed listening to it tremendously, you could just look upon it as kind of an uplugged rockabilly album. Well, skiffle was of course the cradle of rock 'n' roll in the U.K.
One thing's for sure, this is a very joyful album and the band obviously had a great time recording it. Besides the 14 listed tracks, there are also 2 additonal live recordings on the album. There's the ever beautiful "Freight Train" (Nancy Whisky with Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group) and a great 5 minute improvised rendition of my all time favourite "Gost Riders in the Sky". Enjoy!
The Ugly Dog Line-up:
Western Star Recording Company
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2004