Vinyl Review: Confederation – McNeely, Levin and Skinner – Sheffield Lab 9

Vinyl Review: Confederation – McNeely, Kevin and Skinner – Sheffield Lab 9 – Released 1977


Vinyl Review: Confederation - McNeely, Levin and Skinner - Sheffield Lab 9 - Released 1977

Lab 9. Confederation. Larry McNeely, Geoff Levin and Jack Skinner – 1977



Vinyl surface noise: 5+ (not pops and clicks)

Dynamic Range: 4

Stereo Imaging: 4

Image depth/perspective: 3+

Overall frequency response: 4






Side One

  1. Liza Jane
  2. Swallow
  3. Paradise
  4. Old Joe Clark
  5. Big Fat Mama
  6. Simpson’s Holler

Side Two

  1. Saturn
  2. Roll in My Sweat Baby’s Arms
  3. Paddle Wheel
  4. Slow train
  5. Honeysuckle
  6. Train No. 2
  7. Sweet Evening

Recorded: September 19th -22nd, 1977 at the Producers Workshop and the Mastering Lab.

Even though the sleeve notes say this is a “contemporary mixture of Blue Grass and Pop” I really see it for those of you who love Blue Grass, this is your vinyl. The only other Blue Grass recording I have is the out of print, Neophonic String Band on the Direct To Disk label. That recording is pure unadulterated Blue Grass which I will be reviewing in the future.

Stereo imaging was precise, but being a studio recording, instruments were all panned into the stereo image and, while being exceptionally clean, open and very well detailed, lacked just a little in the warmth that a real venue might have produced. Even though there are thirteen tracks in total, many are very short, so there doesn’t appear to have been any compression applied in order to squeeze them on to each side.

This vinyl was exceptionally quiet warranting a 5+. The album lead-in on both sides was virtually silent as were the times between the tracks when the musicians didn’t discuss the last track or were setting up for the next track.

The instrumental and vocal dynamics were excellent with plenty of detail and presence. No hard edges were apparent and the mid range, top and bass were all well balanced, with the lead vocalist being right up there at the front surrounded on either side by the backing vocalists. The only issue I noticed was on S2T6 where the lead vocalist starts left of center and gradually moves back there. The violin playing and banjo picking are first rate with a fine string bass solo on S2T4 with the strings clearly hitting the bass neck several times. The banjo solo on S2T6 and harmonica solo on S2T7 also make for good listening.

Truly a live recording as the musicians chat amongst themselves between tracks joking and making wise cracks to each other about the last track they played, giving the listener a touch of intimacy with the musicians. Overall, a very tight performance that was clearly being enjoyed by all.

This is a good selection of Blue Grass music from slow solo instrumentals to rockingly fast banjo picking and punchy vocals.

Purchase vinyl and CDs from Discogs, and CDs from Sheffield Lab.

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