Can't remember who asked about the Tulla Band but a few comments. I don't
know what is available on cassette or CD now - probably only the 50th
Anniversary item (Philippe could best answer that one).
To compare the Tulla with the Bridge (for example) is difficult. The Tulla
came out of a different era (the 1940's) and have been fairly successful in
retaining their original sound, although they play a lot quicker now (but not
too quick) than they did in the 1940s and 50s. The evidence for this is
their 1956 HMV recordings (not available), which P. Joe Hayes assured me was
truly representative of their playing at that time.
To backtrack, I believe that there have been four quite distinct ceili band
eras. The first started around 1920 with Frank Lee's Tara Ceili Band and was
a parallel development to that of the American-Irish dance bands, with which
the ceili bands of the 1930s share many similarities. This era continued
until the early 1950s when the ceili band competition at the Fleadh Cheoil
stimulated the formation of a large number of new bands, usually based on the
newly formed Comhaltas branches (there were at least 12 such bands launched
in Co. Clare alone in this period!). These bands were largely made up of
musicians who had learned their trade playing for country house dances - this
might be thought of as the 2nd era.
The popularity of these 'community' based bands prompted a number of bands to
be formed for strictly commercial reasons (i.e. the Malachy Sweeney Band).
This period also saw the rise of the showband and some of the commercial
bands were influenced by this movement, featuring 'non-traditional'
instruments, such as the saxophone (as did one or two community bands).
The 3rd era really coincided with the retirement of the 2nd era bands from
competition (such as the Tulla, Kilfenora, Laichtin Naofa, etc.). The bands
of this era were more carefully structured and