Whenever I've interviewed a musician, the topic of conversation invariably works its way round to the music that inspired and influenced the individual in question. While contemporary musicians have access to a far greater range of music simply because of the sheer volume of music that is now available through a variety of sources, earlier generations had to make do with either what they heard on the radio or by haunting record stores. In Great Britain of the 1950s and early 1960s that meant primarily tracking down recordings coming out of the United States by the likes of Eddie Cochrane, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and other popular musicians of the time, or buying up blues albums in used record shops.
The early to mid-'50s in Britain saw a short-term outbreak of popularity for skiffle bands. Playing a type of music similar to the jug bands of America in the '20s, they were usually composed of a guitar player backed by washboard, washtub bass, spoons, or other homemade and inexpensive instruments. The bands specialized in taking vintage American blues and folk songs and speeding them up. One band sold over a million copies of their version of Leadbelly's gospel-tinged "Rock Island Line" in 1956. However, the biggest appeal of skiffle bands was there was no need for expensive equipment and, like punk in the '70s, it relied more on energy than skill for its success.
Anyone even slightly familiar with popular music history knows that John Lennon began his musical career in a skiffle group called The Quarrymen, and that Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined the band, setting the stage for The Beatles. A new movie, Nowhere Boy, released in the United Kingdom on December 16, has recreated those days in an attempt to tell the story of the young John Lennon and the first phase in the development of the Beatles. The soundtrack was released a week earlier than the film. It's a two-CD set, with the first disc containing music from the film and the second containing music of a similar type as that used in the film. (The review copy I was sent only contained disc one, so I'll not be commenting on the second disc.)
The soundtrack itself is a mixture of music Lennon would have been influenced by; songs by a band simply referred to as The Nowhere Boys playing the pieces performed in the movie by The Quarrymen; and two additional songs, "Mother" performed by John Lennon and "Hello Little Girl" sung by Aaron Johnson, the actor who plays Lennon in the movie.