Friday, May 13, 2011

A Dozen Audiophile Rock Recordings

I've been collecting music for a number of years, so here is a list of my favorite well-recorded records.  Most 'audiophile' recordings leave me cold, so this is also a list of just-plain good music.

Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night (original Black Reprise Label) – the original pressing is hard to find, but the lucky buyer is greeted with one of the most naturally recorded rock album ever made.  The space and sound of the recording venue comes alive on the right system.  And the piano sounds like the real thing.

Blue Nile – Hats - This is another hard to score album to get on vinyl.  The CD is very good sounding, but the record takes it up to another level.  The music is fairly low-key synth music, but the soundstaging and dynamics are amazing.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willie and the Poor Boys (Bellaphon) – though the American pressings on Fantasy are known for their sonics, the German pressings take the sonics to a whole new level.  The overall sound is much more open with a high-end detail that simply does not exist on the U.S. label.

Jackson Browne – Running on Empty – this collection of live recordings can be a little mixed, but the best tracks sound very “alive” and natural.

Tom Waits – Closing Time (original Asylum).  I won’t go into the debacle of the re-issue, but it’s worth tracking down the original pressing of Wait’s first album.  This was during his classic singer-songwriter phase.  The music is great as is the recording.

The Who – Tommy (original German Polydor) – the re-issue is fairly good, but the treble sounds goosed-up compared to the original pressings.  This is another hard record to score, but if you like this “rock opera”, then take the time and money to buy it.

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells – Drinking TNT & Smokin’ Dynamite – a big sloppy mess of a live blues rock n’ roll album.  By some fate, the sound is amazing – big, dynamic and alive.  It’s one of the most “live” sounding albums around making you feel immersed in the sound.

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold – everyone seems to pick “Brothers in Arms”, but this album gets the nod from me.  The song “Telegraph Road” is epic and provides a good workout for your speakers.

R.E.M. – Murmur – from R.E.M.’s incoherent singing days, this album has a soaring, ringing sound that is a detailed and fast.  The original pressing is easy to get, but most of them seem a little crackly.  Buy a couple and save the best.

Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview – many of Van Morrison’s early albums are well-recorded, but musically speaking, I enjoy this one the most.  The sound really starts to improve after the first cut “Jackie Wilson Said,” which sounds like it was mixed for radio play.

Roxy Music – Avalon – an essential Roxy Music album, original pressings are fairly easy to find.  The SACD is also good, but sounds a little mechanical compared to the vinyl.

Steve Forbert – Alive on Arrival – Forbert’s debut album is simply recorded with minimal overdubbing.  The songs are also fantastic – a biting collection of folksy-rock tunes.  His second album, “Jackrabbit Slim,” is also worth picking up.


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