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Chris Barber In Concert

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Album Review

Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in London on December 15, 1956, this captures the early Barber band in its prime, although Lonnie Donegan had been replaced on banjo by Eddie Smith about nine months prior to this date. The sound is quite good for a 1956 concert recording, and in fact there's a certain crispness and liveliness to both the acoustics and the performances that make this in some ways preferable to their rather starchier studio recordings of the same era. While Dixieland-type jazz is given the most prominence, some piano-anchored bluesier arrangements supply a nice change of gear, as do Ottilie Patterson's vocals on "Mean Mistreater" and "Lowland Blues." And if the blues guitar solo on "Lowland Blues" (presumably by extremely short-term member Johnny Duncan) is especially weedy and feeble, well, at least it was a start as a twig that would eventually blossom into a huge influence on British rock and popular music. Other members of the band take vocals on "Bourbon Street Parade" (which would become Barber's standard set opener) and "Old Man Mose," and though they could hardly pass as the singing of actual New Orleans jazzmen, there's a certain British chirpiness to the delivery that makes them kind of fun to hear.

Chris Barber In Concert, Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band
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