The Lost 1954 Royal Festival Hall Tapes
Ken Colyer's Jazzmen and Skiffle Group
CD: Upbeat URCD 198
Released September 2004
Over the last twelve months, Ken Colyer fans and Chris Barber fans alike have been treated to a veritable treasure-trove of rare, lost, or otherwise unreleased tracks from the Ken Colyer Jazzmen and Skiffle Group of 1953 and 1954. First came five newly-discovered tracks on the Timeless Jubilee Stomp CD, followed by Lake’s reissue of 22 tracks on Vintage Ken Colyer. Now, from Upbeat, comes an entire “lost” concert at the Royal Festival Hall, recorded on 18 April, 1954. These must have been the last recordings from the Colyer-Barber-Sunshine version of Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen, because it was only a little over a month later, on May 31, that Chris Barber’s Jazz Band was formed. The Lost 1954 Royal Festival Hall Tapes includes 18 tracks (four of these by the Skiffle Group, including vocal duets between Ken and Lonnie, with Chris on bass, Bill Colyer on washboard, and guest pianist Johnny Parker from Humph’s band on “Good Morning Blues”.) The band is in fine form on all of these numbers, an enthusiasm clearly shared by the audience! Tracks include rarities such as “Joplin’s Sensation” and “Temple Blues”, as well as songs that went on to become Barber or Colyer standards. This CD is indeed – as John Griffith points out in his excellent notes – “the last missing piece of the jigsaw”. It’s more than just a collector’s item, however: Barber and Colyer fans will appreciate it for the exciting performances on this most welcome CD.