Tempo Records UK (1946-61)

Last Updated: January 4, 2015

Rarest of the rare: Tempo.

The British Tempo label founded in 1946 by Colin Pomroy and George Davies, issuing jazz on 78’s. In 1953 British Vogue acquired the Tempo catalogue and the following year 1954 Vogue was acquired by Decca under Tony Hall, who used it to issue British modern jazz recordings – LAP 10″ and TAP 12″ series- plus a large number of extended play EXA 7″ EPs,  until it discarded the label in 1961, cosolidating it under Vogue.

UPDATE September 20, 2020

Prior to the 12″ microgroove vinyl format around 1956, It appears that, as well as issuing the early microgroove vinyl formats  of EP (extended Play) and 10″ LP (Long Play) Tempo also issued some titles also on 78rpm shellac format, as late as 1955. Eagle-eyed reader Ross P sent in labels of the very breakable shellac issue of a Tubby Hayes single first issued in 1955 as a 45rpm microgroove single, A123 Tubby Hayes Quartet, “There’s No You”/ “Dance of the Aerophragytes” (below)


Photo-credit: Ross P

Tempo runout with “VGMT” matrix codes the same style as Vogue and Contemporary Vogue, indicating they were pressed by Decca, New Malden.  A dealer once told me Decca mastered jazz records on the same lathes used for classical music, reflecting the greater sensitivity required for mastering complex orchestral works and not three-chord tricks from the Pop music Division. Possibly true, or a vinyl myth.

Tempo Factory Sample/Test Pressing 1958 (courtesy of Charles P)

Exceptionally rare “Factory Sample” (test pressing) of Jimmy Deuchar’s Pals (Tempo TAP 20) from Decca New Malden. TAP 20 has the rare distinction of Tubby Hayes, on tenor sax one side, baritone sax on the other.  Commercial release fetches over £1,000.

Tempo Commercial Releases

Both examples below show deep groove dies in use, one under the outer rim of the label, the other in the more conventional central area. Deep Groove has no bearing on the sound quality other than confirming the record was pressed some time on or  before 1960 when these dies were the norm, the period in which vinyl pressing was generally at its best in audio quality.

According to Tubby Hayes, interviewed by Les Tomkins in 1966:

“I’d been recording for Tony Hall at Tempo Records—which was very good. I’ve got nothing against that. Tony gave us loads of LP’s to do of different jazz things, myself and Ronnie and Jimmy Deuchar and people like that. But you could only buy them in Dobell’s. You couldn’t buy them anywhere else”

Only buy Tempo Records in Dobells!? Dobells Folk and Jazz, the legendary shop at 75-77 Charing Cross Road during the Fifties and Sixties, and which closed in the early 1980’s. This may go some way to explaining the extreme rarity of Tempo records, and their eye-watering prices on eBay.

“Every Jazz fan is born within the sound of Dobell’s

UPDATE November 12, 2017 : eagle-eyed LJC reader Alex spotted this Tempo with another record shop stockist, Wells Music Stores, Romford, 14 miles northeast of the Charing Cross Road.


So not just Dobells.

Tony Hall, Head of Tempo Records, commented on the “problem” of sound engineers:

“every session was a struggle with the engineers. They didn’t understand jazz and they didn’t really want to do jazz dates…. The Decca engineers could not get the tight Van Gelder sound, they just couldn’t get the balance right. I couldn’t specify the engineer I wanted. It was a case of who was left over at the time. Bert Steffens did a lot of the Tempo stuff, but he didn’t feel the music, you had to keep the beer flowing for him. The Tempo records weren’t promoted or marketed and they weren’t selling….”

Complete Tempo discography here:  http://vzone.virgin.net/davidh.taylor/recordt.htm.   Below, an example of what happens when a Tempo now hits eBay, as this did only recently, with 37 bids, an eye-watering £2,000.

Tempo also released a wide range of EP s however, these are out-of-scope for me, so I have nothing really to contribute on these, other than to note that they are a lot cheaper and less collectible than the LPs.

Jasmine reissues

The Tempo catalogue went on to be reissued on vinyl in the early 1980’s on the UK Jasmine label. Widely overlooked as mere “reissues”, Jasmine releases are excellent audio quality despite being dubbed from the earlier LPs, though obviously no better than the quality of their source. Given original Tempos are rarer than hen’s teeth and cost thousands if and when one comes to market, the Jasmines, at about £10, are a very affordable vinyl alternative and a really good listen.

Jasmine now issue CDs of all the catalogue.

Tempo “in the flesh” my own dog-eared but authentic TAP 22 The Jazz Couriers


The Tempo 12″ TAP series modern jazz covers :

Something very understated and “British” about some of them.



Tempo 12″ TAP Full Listing

TAP 1 VV AA Traditional Jazz Scene 1956
TAP 2 Modern Jazz Scene – 1956
TAP 3 Sandy’s Sidemen – Sandy Brown 
TAP 4 Top Trumpets – Dizzy Reece Quartet
TAP 5 Jazz at The Flamingo
TAP 6 After Lights out -Tubby Hayes
TAP 7 Piano solos King Oliver – Don Ewell –
TAP 8 Victor Feldman In London – Vol 1
TAP 9 Progress Report – Dizzy Reece
TAP 10 Cool Music For a Hot Night – sampler
TAP 11 NJF 3rd British Jazz Festival
TAP 12 Victor Feldman In London – Vol 2
TAP 13 George Lewis Ragtime Band
TAP 14 Jazz at the Railway Arms – Mick Mulligan
TAP 15 The Jazz Couriers Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes
TAP 17 Speak Low – More Mood Music In The Modern Manner – Sampler
TAP 18 Avon Cities Jazz Band
TAP 19 Transatlantic Alliance – Victor Feldman
TAP 20 Pal Jimmy Jimmy Deuchar
TAP 21 Swingin’ The Blues – Sampler
TAP 22 Jazz Couriers in Concert Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes
TAP 23 Big Bill Broonzy
TAP 24 His Master’s Jazz – Eddie Thompson Trio
TAP 25 Blue Bogey Wilton ‘Bogey’ Gaynair
TAP 26 The Last Word – The Jazz Couriers
TAP 27 New Horizons – Tommy Whittle
TAP 28 The London Jazz Quartet
TAP 29 Tubby’s Groove – Tubby Hayes Quartet
TAP 30 Jazz Inc. Swinging Music In The Modern Manner – Tony Crombie
TAP 32 The Jazz Five – The Five of Us –  Vic Ash and Harry Klein

TEMPO 10″ LAP Series 1955-6

LAP-1-2-3LAP 4 -5-6LAP-7-8-9LAP 10-11-blank

LAP 1 Meet Don Rendell – Don Rendell Quartet
LAP 2 Jimmy Deuchar Ensemble
LAP 3 A New Star – Dizzy Reece Quintet
LAP 4 Dave Carey Jazz Band
LAP 5 Victor Feldman Septet
LAP 6 Suite Sixteen – Victor Feldman Modern Jazz Quartet
LAP 7 Yancey Mama Don Ewell
LAP 8 VV AA Traditional Jazz Scene
LAP 9 Pat Hawes
LAP 10 Avon Cities’ Jazz Band
LAP 11 Ken Colyer

Tempo 45 rpm “A” series 1953 to 1958

A 096 Melly George Rock Island Line 1951
A 101 Barber Chris Camp meeting blues 1952
A 102 Barber Chris When Erastus plays his old kazoo 1952
A 104 Melly George Kitchen Man 1952
A 109 Hayes Tubby May Reh 1955
A 113 Hayes Tubby Sophisticated Lady 1955
A 116 Barber Chris Precious Lord, lead me on 1956
A 119 Hayes Tubby Fidelius 1955
A 123 Hayes Tubby There’s no you 1955
A 127 Feldman Victor Elegy 1955
A 132 Barber Chris Saratoga Swing 1956
A 144 Melly George Jenny’s ball 1956
A 147 Melly George Death letter 1956
A 148 Hayes Tubby Ode to Ernie 1956
A 153 Scott Ronnie I’ll take romance 1957
A 160 Barber Chris Ice cream 1957
A 162 Smith Betty There’s a blue ridge round my heart 1957
A 163 Smith Betty Sweet Georgia Brown 1957
A 166 Korner Alexis I ain’t gonna worry no more 1958
A 167 Deuchar Jimmy Bewitched 1958

Tempo EXA series 1955-60
Extended Play 45 rpm/7″ format

EXA 1 Lyttleton Humphrey And His Band 1955
EXA 2 Randall Freddy same
EXA 3 Spanier Muggsy Dixieland Band
EXA 5 Ory Kid Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band
EXA 6 Barber Chris New Orleans Jazz Band 1955
EXA 7 Bechet Sidney – Joe Sullivan Quartet same
EXA 9 Castle Jazz Band same
EXA 11 Rendell Don The Great
EXA 12 Rendell Don Sextet 1955
EXA 13 Brown Sandy Jazz Band 1955
EXA 14 Hayes Tubby The little Giant 1955
EXA 15 Lewis George And His New Orleans Stompers 1955
EXA 16 Rendell Don/Damian Robinson Sextet/Trio 1955
EXA 17 Hayes Tubby And His Orchestra 1955
EXA 18 Deuchar Jimmy Ensemble 1955
EXA 19 Bell Graeme Graeme Bell’s Australian Jazz Band 1955
EXA 20 Rendell Don Quintet 1956
EXA 21 Dutch Swing College
EXA 22 Barber Chris Jazz Band 1955
EXA 25 Mick Mulligan’s Jazz Band 1955
EXA 26 Colyer Ken Jazzmen 1955
EXA 27 Hayes Tubby The swinging Giant, vol.1 1955
EXA 28 Hayes Tubby The swinging Giant, vol.2 1956
EXA 29 Feldman Victor Big Band 1955
EXA 31 Colyer Ken Jazzmen 1956
EXA 33 Brown Sandy Jazz Band 1955
EXA 34 Johnny Lucas and his Blue blowers
EXA 35 The Yorkshire Jazz Band
EXA 36 Hayes Tubby Orchestra Modern Jazz Scene 1956 1956
EXA 37 Mick Mulligan’s Jazz Band same 1956
EXA 41 Melly George With Mick Mulligan’s Jazz Band rec.1956
EXA 45 Scott Ronnie Blows 1956
EXA 47 Melly George Sings Doom 1956
EXA 49 Brown Sandy Traditional Jazz Scene 1956 1956
EXA 51 Carey Dave Jazz Band 1957
EXA 53 Colyer Ken In New Orleans 1957
EXA 54 Mick Mulligan’s Jazz Band same 1957
EXA 55 Hayes Tubby After lights out 1957
EXA 57 Feldman Victor In London/Vol.1 1957
EXA 62 Lewis George Ragtime Band 1957
EXA 66 Lewis George Ragtime Band 1957
EXA 67 Feldman Victor In London/Vol.2 1957
EXA 70 Lewis George Ragtime Band 1957
EXA 73 De Paris Wilbur “New” New Orleans Jazz 1957
EXA 74 Smith Betty Quintet 1957
EXA 75 Jazz Couriers Tubby Hayes and The Jazz Couriers 1957
EXA 76 Korner Alexis Blues from The Roundhouse, vol.1
EXA 79 Deuchar Jimmy Opus de funk 1958 Sextet
EXA 81 Deuchar Jimmy Swingin’ in Studio Two 1958
EXA 82 Hayes Tubby The Eighth Wonder 1958
EXA 84 Reece Dizzy A variation on Monk 1958
EXA 85 Feldman Victor Mutual admiration 1958 feat.Dizzy Reece
EXA 86 Reece Dizzy Nowhere to go published 1958
EXA 87 Jazz Couriers Through the night roared… 1959
EXA 88 Deuchar Jimmy Wail 1959 with Victor Feldman Quintet
EXA 89 Reece Dizzy On the scene 1959
EXA 90 Stan Greig Jazzband 1959
EXA 97 Lewis George And His New Orleans Rhythm Boys 1959
EXA 101 Lewis George 1959
EXA 102 Korner Alexis Blues Incorporated 1959
EXA 103 Gaynair “Bogey” Wilton Blue Bogey Volume One 1960

UPDATE: reader contribution from Andy S:

A134 Acker Bilk’s Paramount Jazz Band – Dippermouth Blues / Where The River Shannon Flows
A165 City Ramblers Skiffle Group – Delia’s Gone
A151 Avon Cities’ Jazz Band – Shim-Me-Sha Wabble
EXA38 The Dave Carey Jazz Band – Dave “Jazz” Carey
EXA42 Zenith Six – Zenith Six


Collecting Tempo originals is not for the faint-hearted. This is the price-point that Tubby Hayes Tempo’s max out at, courtesy of Popsike.

Popsike Tubby TopsMore resources on Tempo from Italian archivist amacordrecords


36 thoughts on “Tempo

  1. I have Tempo EXA35 which is not on your list. Features 4 tracks by The Yorkshire Jazz Band: 1. Ice Cream. 2. Canal Street Blues. Flipside is: 1. Big Chief Battleaxe. 2. Muskrat Rumble


  2. Hello Sir, I acquired a modest collection of old jazz and dixieland music, among which I discovered the EXA 3 Muggsy Spanier’s Dixieland Band in its original sleeve, both record and sleeve in rather outstanding condition. I haven’t played it yet, so cannot vouch for sound quality, but visually, the record looks great. Would you have any idea what the value is?


  3. Interesting read. I have the following if you want to add them to your list:
    A134 Acker Bilk’s Paramount Jazz Band – Dippermouth Blues / Where The River Shannon Flows
    A165 City Ramblers Skiffle Group – Delia’s Gone
    A151 Avon Cities’ Jazz Band – Shim-Me-Sha Wabble
    EXA38 The Dave Carey Jazz Band – Dave “Jazz” Carey
    EXA42 Zenith Six – Zenith Six


  4. I have a couple of tubby Hayes on tempo 78rpm. One being the A123 pictured. Along with this I have a fair few jazz on the vogue label. What the tubby one worth at the min? I can’t find nothing on it.


    • 78’s are a bit of a specialist niche, a lot of peoples home systems can’t even play them, never mind the risk of breakage in the mail. There are collectors who value such things, but the only way to know what it is worth is to put one up for auction with a sensible reserve, and see what offers you get. I haven’t the foggiest idea.


  5. Ross Pelling
    on September 20, 2020 at 00:14 said:Edit

    Let me know if you can open these .


    LJC: reposted to top to get out of the dreaded WordPress drainpipe
    Yes, got it thanks. Interesting, I have updated the Tempo page with label-shots of your 78rpm tempo. This Tubby recording A123 appears to have been issued as a 45rpm single first in 1955. It looks like Tempo was also continuing to support the old 78rpm format, as late as 1955.


  6. I have a copy of Big Bill Broonzy An evening with TEMPO TAP 23 .Found it in a skip with some other LPS in near mint condition.Could somebody tell me if it is worth anything.Thanks.


  7. I have a copy of a 78rpm [Tempo – Division of Vogue Records Ltd] – Catalogue No. A16 – Huddie Leadbetter (sic) Digging My Potatoes/Defense Blues which I bought as a ‘remainder’ for about two shillings, from a small record shop in Liverpool in the late 1950s. It is obviously a 1953 or later pressing as it was in ’53 that Vogue acquired Tempo. There is no sign of this pressing on Discogs.

    Does anyone have any idea as to its current value? (not that I am selling at this time).


  8. Hi…

    I have a copy of tempo TAP 1…
    Dave Carey’s jazz band
    Acker Bilk’s Paramount Jazz band
    Terry Lightfoot and his jazz men.
    VMGT 1028 1B
    Been looking on line but can’t find much about it, can you please help.


  9. I held the Tommy Whittle Quintet in my hands today, as well as the After Lights out, but that did not distract me as much as I have a good reissue of that. Trying to decide what to offer on the WHittle, my old guide says £700, only two on popsike were £1100 and £2k. It was mint. Surely one of the hardest to find UK modern jazz titles? I know Dusk Fire goes for a premium, but this one just does not come on the market.


    • You will be paying for true scarcity, only three copies appear to have come to auction in a decade. Tubby’s Tempos at least sold in many hundreds and turn up, from time to time, though pricey.

      I would expect its auction price to be over £2,000, if only because every potential bidder will be aware of that benchmark auction. If it is not in an auction, whatever the seller wants. Question for you is how badly you want it.

      Personally I don’t think any record is worth that much to me, however I am not that sort of collector, others may be.


  10. TAP 16 – This is a compilation album by the Dave Carey Jazzband called ‘Selections’ I have a test pressing of this LP 2 single sided Test Pressings. My father bought it about 25 years ago.


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  12. Your list of Tempo EXA records omits EXA34 a copy of which is in my collection.It features Johnny Lucas and his Blueblowers .It was recorded in Hollywood in February 1954..
    Tracks are: Hindustan,,Lazy River, Loveless Love and High Society.
    Musicians – Johnny Lucas (tpt) Mike Hobi(tbn) Matty Matlock(clt flute) Jess Stacey(pno) Len Esterdahl (bjo,gtr) Bob Stone(bs) Monty Mountjoy(drs)
    vg condition – value ?


    • Thanks for the additional information – added to the list. Tempo EXA EPs are valued only for the sought-after names – Tubby Hayes and Don Rendell. These can fetch up to £200. Other titles by less collectable artists, I hesitate to guess, but probably not worth very much.


  13. for those interested in the modern UK music, I strongly recommend the following site dedicated to British modern jazz from the forties into the sixties: henrybebop.co.uk


  14. Tempo TAP 31 was by The Swedish Jazz Quartet. Not many people know that. Even fewer have heard it.

    Three other Tempo EPs were programmed and given catalogue numbers but never released:
    EXA 48 – Jimmy Deuchar/Dizzy Reece
    EXA 68 – Victor Feldman All Star Big Band
    EXA 69 – Tubby Hayes/Dizzy Reece/Dave Goldberg “We Three”


    • Simon: it is The Swedish Modern Jazz Group, the Nils Lindberg septette incl. Lars Gullin, ex Barben Records. Beautiful music. I have this one on Swedish Telestar TRS 11121.under the very original title “Sax Appeal”. .


  15. A shame, I came across this splendid Tempo review only now.
    I once had a Tempo album by Trad clarinettist George Lewis (TAP 13). This may have been the only example of Tempo issuing US material for the U.K. market. The material is from the Jazz Man label, a session recorded in 1953.


    • No, there was also the firehouse five ep, a US trad revival outfit. Incidentally, I had a copy of the Couriers TEMPO TAP 22 in my ebay watch list, and it went for £27.99 on the 1st of Nov, two bids. Missed it by small child distraction, should have been sniping, although who knows what the bidder put in as his limit. I doubt he was anything less than chuffed with that though.


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