July 21 2011: Graham Dalley at the Barn (Hollick & Taylor’s Studio, Birmingham, 1966)

Today’s entry is Graham Dalley At The Barn, a 1966 LP recorded at Hollick and Taylor’s Studio in Birmingham to showcase the not inconsiderable skills of Graham Dalley and his ensemble, as they were to be heard in their role as the regular house band at an upmarket mid-sixties Solihull dinner-dance venue. Featuring Graham Dalley himself as bandleader (and contributor of piano, vibraphone, trumpet and electric harp), with Don Georgeson on flute, clarinet & sax, Ray Pritchard on organ, Phil Nelson on guitar, Vic Mortiboys on bass and Bill Thorpe on percussion, the line-up is completed by two vocalists, Renee Barce and Alan Hemus, who appear on three tracks each.

As Dalley himself says in the sleevenote, “Rhythm is the most important thing. If it hasn’t a beat, it has nothing at all…”, a philosophy put to good use on the two Dalley original compositions that feature on the LP.

It’s probably not a record that will change lives, but it’s executed beautifully, with a mix of instrumental cover versions of songs like Zambesi sitting alongside original tunes such as Dalley’s own Surf Ride and Medium Rare, which have a sound oddly comparable to Vyacheslav Mescherin’s Moscow Orchestra of Electromusical Instruments. There are vocal turns from the Filipina singer Renee Barce on the exotica-tinged Bamboo Tree, Sayonara and Dahil Sayo and Alan Hemus on Yesterday, Too Marvellous For Words and Folks That Live On The Hill. It’s a great example of the kind of quality professional music being made at the time, under the watchful eye of the Musicians’ Union.

By far the best taster for the general mood to be heard here is the atmospheric opening track, Pacifico, complete with audience ambience and BBC-voiced announcer. When Dalley’s uptempo exotica instrumental eventually kicks in, it’s a strangely otherworldly sound, as vibes, flute and organ combine to create something harder to describe than just kick back and enjoy: cocktail jazz with a light space-age bachelor pad feel. When I first found this LP a few months back, I described it to someone as “more a social document than an essential listen, but a social document that finds its way back to the turntable more often than you might expect.” That’s proved to be more or less the case.

Incidentally, at least one other Dalley LP exists, Sounds International, issued on the Saga label in 1969 and credited to The Graham Dalley Dozen. It has so far evaded me, but it sounds intriguing.

13 Responses to “July 21 2011: Graham Dalley at the Barn (Hollick & Taylor’s Studio, Birmingham, 1966)”
  1. Philippa Dalley says:

    How lovely to come across an article on my uncle! thank you!

    • wayneburrows says:

      Glad you found it – I know I’m not the only one who’s been enjoying listening to the releases by his various ensembles…

    • Andy Shaw says:

      I’m told your uncle lived in my house in Abbeydale road Northfield. I have heard fond tales of him from meeting Roy Wood and others Andyjohnshaw@hotmail.com

    • R Corbett says:


      Trying to trace someof the Dalley family, are you still reading this??

    • Leon Jackson says:

      Hey Philippa, I was wounding if you could help me, the gentleman you said was your grandad, was named on my as my grandad Father, on his marriage papers. Now I have never meet my grandad, my mother can not remember alot about him as her mother moved away when she was just a child. My grandfather name is Stephen John Clark, if you wouldn’t mind asking around your family. Help me on the right tracks that would be amazing. Many thanks
      Leon Jackson.

      E-mail leonjackson773@gmail.com

  2. Colin Timmins says:

    Hi, I just came across your article about Graham Dalley. I played in a pop music band in 1962/ 1963 and we played at the Barn restaurant at that time. We would take to the stage there and play twice a night, when the Graham Dalley band took their 15 minute breaks. We were all about 17 or 18 years old with stars in our eyes………….Happy days.

  3. Bernard Chinn says:

    I joined the Graham Dalley Band at the Birmingam ‘Castaways’ night club in1968 on keyboards, and played with him until his untimely death in 1968.He was one of the world.s larger than life characters, as well as a brilliant musician. He died while playing a holiday season on the I of Man, and I am still in touch with another musician from the band, who is now my accountant !!

    • Leon Jackson says:

      Hi guys, I am looking my grandfather on behalf of my mother between my mother’s birth certificate and my nan marriage certificate I know my grandfather name is Stephen clark and his father name was Graham Dalley, both who was professional musicians from Birmingham in the 60’s if any one knows anything about graham Dalley if he had a son called Stephen john Clark taking his mother’s name, please please if anyone can help me find my grandfather and reunited my mum with her dad it will be very appreciative it has been over 40+ many thanks

      My email address is

  4. Richard Saunders says:

    I was a childhood friend of Graham Dalleys children, Jayne, Lorraine and Jon, would love to get in touch, Jon was my best friend as youngsters but we lost touched after they moved away from a Tidbury Green

    • Leon jackson says:

      Hi Richard, trying to track down a family member of Graham’s do you remember if he had a son called stephan John? Graham Dalley marked down as his father on a certificate, I’m trying to track stephan down, any info would be a great help

      • Richard Saunders says:

        No definitely not, was just Jayne , Lorraine and Jon. Jons mom ( Alwyne?) did re- marry a man that had two daughters, they moved away shortly after.
        That’s all I can tell you, I think you have the wrong Graham Dalley.

  5. Susan Binns (née Dalley says:

    Just to let you know Graham Dalley had another family before his marriage to Alwyn, he had a son called Stephen who is now deceased.

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