Vinyl Review: Still Harry After All These Years – Sheffield Lab 11

Vinyl Review: Still Harry After All These Years-Sheffield Lab 11 – Released 1979

Vinyl Review: Still Harry After All These Years-Sheffield Lab 11

Lab 11. Harry James & His Big Band, Still Harry After All These Years – 1979




Vinyl surface noise: 5  (not pops and clicks)

Dynamic Range: 4

Stereo Imaging: 4+

Image depth/perspective: 4+

Overall frequency response: 4







Side One

  1. Caravan
  2. Satin Doll
  3. Roll ‘Em
  4. Sanford And Son
  5. Moonglow / Theme From “Picnic”

Side Two

  1. Take The “A” Train
  2. Undecided
  3. Ciao
  4. Dance
  5. Help Me Make It Through The Night

This album was recorded in the Wylie Chapel at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood between March 26 – 30, 1979. One stereo microphone was used together with ‘touch up’ microphones for the piano and acoustic bass. The album celebrates Harry’s 40th anniversary as a big band trumpeter and leader.

So forty years on Harry still has what it takes, and together with Sheffield Labs engineering skills at designing electronics that look like a ‘wire with gain’, hits another one ‘out of the park’, well almost! This is yet another, and alas the last, great recording by Harry in the Wylie Chapel, continuing in the footsteps of Lab 3 and Lab 6.  

Despite squeezing five tracks onto each side of this album there appears to be no discernible compression. However, the overall recording level is notably lower than that found on Lab 3 and 6, probably in order to get five tracks on each side. The single point stereo mic capturing an excellent pin point stereo image with plenty of depth perspective, together with the Chapels natural acoustics. The recording, however, seemed to lack the sparkle and presence of the previous two recordings in the Chapel having a more refined gentle feel. This is not because many of the tracks are generally slower than on the other two recordings, the album just seems more laid back with solos for the kit, double bass, brass and saxophone, not pulling me into the performance to the same degree as in the previous two recordings. The mid range and top is clean and crisp without being too forward with the lower registers supporting a tight double bass and kick drum.

The instrumental line up appeared to be virtually identical to the previous recordings, however, the kit seemed to be much further to the left of center, and certainly didn’t have the same dynamic range and punch as previous recordings. The vinyl surface noise is commendably low, both between tracks and during quiet passages, never intruding into the performance.

My comments may seem a little harsh, but the album is still a first class recording and cut by Sheffield Lab, and another great performance by Harry and his band. There are plenty of notable sax, double bass, brass and Harry solos in many of the tracks, really too many to single out, like S1T3, S1T5, S2T1, S2T2, S2T3 with a great trombone solo in S2T5.

As a Big Band fan I have to recommend this recording, as despite its more refined and laid back feel, it still sounds great and shows all the virtues of Direct To Disc Recording and Sheffield Labs engineering and cutting skills.

Available on vinyl and CD from Discogs, and CD from Sheffield Lab.

See my other vinyl reviews here.