A hit record can be a blessing and a curse and that’s what it was for the prog rock band East of Eden and their only hit single: “Jig-a-Jig.” The blessing – a band’s single to chart in the top 10 is always welcome and this single did just that in peaking at #7 in the UK. The curse was that this traditional medley was a “one off” and nothing like East of Eden’s other recordings and it typecast the band as a folk-rock unit. Because of its roots, “Jig-a-Jig” is our Traditional Tuesday feature.
The song’s title is a misnomer as none of the three tunes that are a part of this medley are jigs. “Jig-a-Jig” includes "The Ashplant Reel," "Drowsy Maggie," and "Jenny's Chicken." All three of these songs are actually reels and not jigs. Jigs are in 2/4 time while reels have a time signature of either 2/2 or 4/4. So to be totally honest, it should have been named “Reel-a-Reel.” The song is based around the core instrumentation of drums, bass, and fiddle. In addition, there are hand claps, claves, and the occasional electric guitar.
Although “Jig-a-Jig” proved that the band could do folk-rock, they were far more eclectic. Drawing their influence from hard rock, symphonic rock, psychedelic, jazz, as well as folk and Gypsy music, East of Eden is difficult to categorize. Unfortunately, they never enjoyed the success of their 1971 single release.