David Marsh: These 60s psych-rockers play a winning hand with their take on a traditional Texas gambling song...Buried among the military bands and trad jazz in my Dad's record collection were one or two gems, notably a number of Lonnie Donegan 78s, perhaps the best of which was his version of this old gambling folk song. It reached No 14 in the UK singles chart in 1957 and I was thrilled by Donegan's energetic performance, delivered at breakneck speed.
Jack of Diamonds has a long history. The lyrics may date from the American civil war and the tune from even earlier, and there are numerous versions, including recordings by Blind Lemon Jefferson, John Lee Hooker, Waylon Jennings, Fairport Convention – using an adaptation by Bob Dylan – and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. My favourite, though, has to be this comprehensive 1966 deconstruction by the Daily Flash, a Seattle quartet who moved to California and managed to rub shoulders with various big names (they were signed by the manager of Buffalo Springfield) without ever quite finding success themselves – although they did appear in a totally barking episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.