The Dumb Waiters – The Keele Tapes Vol. 1

1977 and it was my first day at Keele University. I was living in student hall of residence and met Jim who was allocated the room next door. We found out we shared an interest rock, pop and punk music and quickly became friends. It was not long before we met Brian and Ron who living in the same block and The Dumb Waiters band was formed within the first term.

Black and White photo of the band members in 1977, Ron, Brian, Jim & Vic
The Dumb Waiters photograph taken 1977 is used for album cover
Band members seen from left to right Ron, Brian, Jim & Vic

Initially the band lacked equipment and ability but had more than enough enthusiasm to overcome any obstacles. This was a time where garage bands were considered the norm if your music was to have integrity and authenticity.

The band frequently draft additional personnel as and when specific resources were needed or being available. Sometimes decisions on use of musical forces had social rather than artistic objective. Challenging friends to be involved in projects being part of the joy of the creative process. Inevitably the results were unpredictable and often chaotic.

Recordings at the time were often mastered on a mono cassette recorder, with sounds sources either strategically placed either near or far from a single microphone to the best balance. The instruments forming the back line were mixed though a homemade piece of electronics comprising potentiometers fitted into a plastic food storage box. The only available PA was my dad’s 1950’s reel-to-reel tape recorder which had an auxiliary input but was underpowered for the task of amplifying several instruments. Cranking up volume the amp would easily be overloaded and was capable of generating excellent guitar feedback. Recordings were frequently made in our student rooms within the halls of residence. As you might expect The Dumb Waiters were not popular among the other residents in student block, as the band developed a “punk rock” reputation for being uncompromising when challenged about the unacceptable levels of noise.

Many recordings were made that were heavily influenced by the popular culture of the time being released as homemade cassette albums that were distributed to our small fan base. These tapes had been gathered dust for many years until Jim started a band Facebook Page in 2016 that brought together some of the band memorabilia.

In 2021 Brian discovered he had terminal cancer and many of the recordings that Jim possessed were digitised for Brian to listen to once again. A band reunion was planned, but sadly did not take place before Brian died.

Jim has put together a selection of pieces from the original Keele cassette tapes that span Brian’s time at university. It was a pleasure to assist Jim with some of the digital production and restoration so that the music as being put together in form of a complete album online. The band in 2022 now has its own SoundCloud profile where the album can be streamed free.

The Dumb Waiters Album, The Keele Tapes Vol. 1 released 2022

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