All jazz hands on tape deck!

Here’s something very special, which I’m immensely proud and humbled to share with readers. It shows what a great online community we all share in Walsall, and the generosity of time, spirit and expertise that exists within it.

I’m sure you’ll remember that back in February, I featured some recordings of live Jazz being played at the Crown pub in Brownhills West, by amongst others, Ken Rattenbury, Paul and Fred Degville – very respected musicians. This was recorded from a reel to reel recording of Meanwhile, Down at the Local, a program then broadcast by BBC Radio Birmingham.

Peter Barker, ace photographer and graphic designer, found the tape in his late father’s personal effects, and lovingly digitised the recording using his trusty mac and a grumpy Ferrograph reel to reel tape deck. Peter subsequently discovered another tape of a previous program featuring the Degville band at the Crown from Easter, 1973. Sadly, however, in the process of conversion, the Ferrograph had one last strop and digested the tape. Peter feared all was lost, including some rather special interview moments.

I believe the Ferrograph has commenced a new career in deepwater diving....

This disaster was a crying shame – people clearly remembered the band and musicians with real affection, and to lose something so rare was hard. Just as we accepted the worst, offers from readers came in, with one particular smokey old jazzer in Walsall stepping out of the shadows with some rather professional kit. The donor would like to remain anonymous, but I hereby to thank him publicly. His generosity was a true act of musical felicity and has enabled Peter to recover the vast majority of what was considered to be lost. The kindness and selflessness of this act will, I’m sure, be appreciated by all the jazz fans and families concerned.

Peter himself put some sweat into recovering the recording. The donated deck played at a different speed to the Ferrograph, and he’s performed extensive tuning, adjustment and enhancement. It’s a work of art.

I love this picture of the band. Can't get the Bonzo Dog Do-Dah band out of my head, though. Looking very relaxed on vibes, it's...

At the risk of this turning into some emotional oscars-style mushfest, everyone involved in this – Peter, Anonymous and all who made offers – have all been exemplary. Those who condemn the local online community as parochial and worthless really haven’t a clue about the passion, dedication and sheer good will that exists within it.

Thank you all. You can download these tracks by right-clicking and selecting ‘save as’, or play them within the embedded plays. Sadly, this won’t work on iPads or other iOS devices – you’ll need a real browser.

The Program is Meanwhile, Down at the Local, hosted by Mike Johnson, broadcast Easter, 1973. Enjoy, and marvel at the times…

[Edited 25th March, 9:30pm – you can access the files directly from Peter’s site by clicking this link. Only required for those on iPads and suchlike, or those who want to easily download the originals]

Track 1: Introduction

Track 2: Ive Found a New Baby

Track 3: Satin Doll

Track 4: A chat with Ken

Track 5: The Blues My Naughty Sweatpea Gave to Me

Track 6: I’m Confessin’

Track 7: A fan from Lichfield

Track 8: Bourbon Street Parade

Track 9: Interview with Fred Degville

Track 10: Avalon

Track 11: Disaster strikes!

Track 12: What a Difference a Day Makes

Track 13: Running Wild

Track 14: Outtro

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16 Responses to All jazz hands on tape deck!

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    wonderful..really wonderful!

  2. Clive says:

    Well done to all concerned, just shows what a lovely community we have.

  3. degvilles says:

    I’m lost for words. I I just thanks, thank you so so much. I was 8 years old the last time I heard my dear Grandad’s voice. Wow, I’m blown away. I’ve got a lump in my throat and grit in my eyes. Whoever you are – thank you thank you thank you. Toosdee – he always said Toosdee…Grandad, bloody hell get me, I’m waffling but I’m just wow, brilliant thank you. Thank you!!

  4. degvilles says:

    That is amazing, thank you so so much. I I I’m just stunned, blown away by it. The last time I heard my Grandad’s voice was in 1979. I was 8. Wow, wow wow, thank you whoever you are, that is fantastic, I am eternally grateful. “Toosdee” he always said it as “Toosdee”, Wow, I don’t know what to say, lost for words for once but waffling. I’m er excuse me, it’s just fantastic to hear again. So thank you thank you thank you.

  5. Kipping says:

    Looks like Ron Thomas on Bass

  6. pebar says:

    Hi Bob, It’s wonderful that we managed eventually to get this one sorted. Having listened to the tape on first discovery I realised what a gem it was and then to think it was lost and gone forever felt like I’d heard ghosts from the past that no-one else would hear. But thanks to the power of Twitter and especially to our anonymous friend, we got there!

    Like the man that was run over by a steam train, I’m chuffed to bits.
    (Thanks to Tim Vine for that one)

    One point – the picture above relates to the other – Paul Degville/Ernie Jones – session. The tracks on this session are from the Ken Rattenbury/Norman Pritchard Band pictured in the newspaper cutting.

    Oh, and on the subject of Oscars, Bob, I think BBC Engineer Mr J Henry deserves a mention too.

  7. Fab, fab, fab!!

  8. When I listened to the tape on first discovery, I realised what a gem it was, and when disaster struck I thought it was lost and gone forever and felt I’d been listening to ghosts from the past that no-one else would ever hear. So it’s a big thank you to our anonymous friend.

    To paraphrase Tim Vine: like the man that was run over by a steam train, I’m chuffed to bits.

    One point, Bob – the picture above relates to the other — Paul Degville/Ernie Jones — session. This session is the Ken Rattenbury band pictured in the Walsall Observer cutting.

    Oh, and on the subject of Oscars, Bob, I think BBC sound engineer Mr J Henry deserves a mention 🙂

  9. Mick_P says:

    Absolutely trad-tastic. Great work by all and an important bit of archiving.

  10. Brian Stringer (posted on Facebook and transferred here by Bob) says:

    I’d like to give my personal thanks to the mystery man who saved Peter’s fathers tape from the jazzmans graveyard. Thursday’s was my night at the Crown and I’ve just sat back and enjoyed listening to the magic of those nights. I felt a tingle all over as I heard the playing of Norman Pritchard on the Vibes. I can still see the array of pipes with the litttle discs spinning over the top of each one, giving that wonderful, vibrating tonal quality. I’ve never seen one of these instruments played live since. And as the roar of the audience at the end of each one of Norm’s solo’s suggests, he was the star of Thursday’s. Brian

  11. Graeme Fisher says:

    Having been in a band and lost tapes of performances, the recovery of this stuff is near miraculous.

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  14. M.WHITBROOK says:


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