LEATHERTOWN JAZZMEN, Delia Gone, 1961Posted: February 28, 2013
Compared to the Dixieland songs from flexi discs that I´ve posted lately, the Leathertown Jazzmen were the real thing. Maybe not in the sense that their playing was more authentic, but at least the Leathertown Jazzmen were full-time Jazzmen.
Most groups who played early jazz in the 50s were decidedly amateur. They believed that if they wanted to stay true to the original New Orleans players, who were predominantly amateurs, they must also stay amateurs. Nevertheless, the youthful and talented Leathertown Jazzmen (Otto Zitzelsberger, John Howlett, Armin Johl, David Meggeson, Horst Brandt and Roy Pellet), a mixed group of British and German musicians, were in such high demand, that they were able to turn pro in 1960. They toured Germany, England, Spain and Norway. In August 1962 they appeared at the International Jazz Festival in Comblain-la-Tour, near Liege in Belgium, in front of 35.00 people. Apart from the instruments they´re holding in the picture (clarinet, trombone and banjo), they look like a rock´n´roll group. The Leathertown Jazzmen were from Offenbach, a town that until the 1950s was known for its large leather industry. Since then, that has changed dramatically. Due to many companies moving their businesses to countries with lower wages, from the 1.339 leather companies that were counted in Offenbach in 1907, only 19 remained in the year 2000.
As far as I know, the Jazzmen recorded at least one more 45 for the Pye label in 1962 (Heidelberg/Rosamunde, Pye 7N 3113) , but none of them have been reissued in fifty years. Delia Gone, written and recorded by Blind Blake in 1949, tells the true story of the murder of Delia Green on Chrismas Eve 1900. Interesting trivia according to Wikipedia: “Delia Gone” was prominently covered by The Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and four times by Johnny Cash. In the music video for Cash’s fourth recording, Delia is played by Kate Moss.
The Leathertown Jazzmen´s version of Delia Gone is pretty close to the version of Acker Bilk. I still like The Jazzmen´s version better. It´s a little more rootsy…