Chris Barber's Jazz Band, There Were Some Changes Made, 1961-65
(Lake Records LACD 305, released in October 2011).
This new compact disc from Lake Records fills in some important gaps in the Chris Barber Band’s recording history, notably between 1961 and 1965. While it is true that full LP recordings continued to be issued during this period, it appears that by the early 1960s the relationship with Denis Preston’s Lansdowne Studios was over, and that recordings from this time were issued independently and more sporadically, on singles and EPs, and some not at all, at least until several years later.
Thus, the tracks on There Were Some Changes Made come from a variety of sources, including selections from an LP that was only available from the World Record Club (e.g., Weary Blues, Black & Tan Fantasy), and later re-issues on compilation LPs (for example, there are several tracks that appeared on a much later Black Lion LP, Chris Barber Special. Finally, others have never before been released (e.g., Georgia Swing, and a novel version of Shout ‘Em Aunt Tillie, on the latter of which Chris plays a muted solo in a way which I have never heard in any earlier or later recordings).
One of the outstanding characteristics of this CD is the very high standard of studio recording, which lends a tight-knot sound to the band, yet leaves space for the listener to hear and concentrate on each of the specific musicians in what was then a six-piece outfit (the CD does not include any vocals by Ottilie Patterson, the seventh member of the band). The other outstanding characteristic of the band is its easy, relaxed manner of playing, due no doubt to the fact that, apart from Ian Wheeler (who seemed to “fit in” from his first day with the band in 1961), there had been no personnel changes since Graham Burbidge joined the band for the first Sister Rosetta Tharpe tour at the end of 1957.
In sum, There Were Some Changes Made is an excellent and welcome addition to the available catalogue and one which many Barber fans will greatly enjoy listening to.
For more information about this period in the Barber Band’s development, go to Chris Barber's Jazz Band with Otttilie Patterson, 1961 to 1964.
Ed Jackson, October 28, 2011