Best tracks to "show off" your system

I know there are certain songs that seem to bring out your system better than others.

which songs to you put on to show off your system to friends?

for me:
1. My love is - Diana Krall
2. Girl from Impanema - Getz/Gilberto
Recent discovery: Ramsey Lewis & Nancy Wilson on Meant to Be, from the Narada label. Nancy sings on half the cuts, as Ramsey fronts a piano trio with bass and drums. They do sentimental jazz covers. The sound is really clear -- they come into your listening room. My personal faves are First Time Love and Moondance. These get a "Wow, that's really real" reaction.
For pure demo / "show off" vocals, the following are hard to beat. (Not all not contain great, timeless material, but they DO sound good.)

1. Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker; LP: "I've Got The Music in Me" -- Sheffield Labs

2. Amanda McBroom; LP's: "Growing Up In Hollywood Town", or "Dreaming" (released on both Sheffield Labs and Gecko labels)

3. Opera; CD: "Arias for Farinelli", by Vivica Genaux. One of the most phenomenal female voice recordings I've ever heard, with superb instrumental backing by a period instrument baroque orchestra. Chosen as one of Gramophone Magazine's "Top 10 Recordings of the Year" for 2004.

4. Joan Baez: LP's: "Diamonds & Rust", or her early Vanguard recordings that have been re-mastered and re-released in audiophile editions.

5. Willie Nelson: Half-speed mastered LP copy of "Stardust" -- no, I have not lost my mind. Everyone knows the sound of Willie's voice, so this recording makes an excellent "litmus test". It is VERY well recorded and also has some great music.

6. Mark Murphy: in my personal opinion, one of the all-time great male jazz singers. The late Joe Williams was also one of my favorites, but Murphy is superbly hip and almost always has great jazz musicians providing backing on his recordings. Murphy has a number of good recordings, but my personal favorite is "Bop For Kerouac".
Something I know my listening friends would like to listen to.

When I'm listening critically for system strengths,being an imaging person,I choose something polyphonic or unaccompanied human voices.
Bobby Miles/Troiki Gurtu

Amazing synth (Miles), percussion (Gurtu), various acoustic instruments all meshed together in a terrific progressive/jazz/world album

This CD has amazing sound and when you consider Gurtu plays percussion it is high-lighted in a terrific way. Extremely detailed and huge soundstage.

Kray, good choice - Getz/Gilberto
Sdcampbell (or anyone else)- Any clue as to whether there was ever a CD version of Thelma Houston's "I've got the music in me"? You are right about the Thelmas's vocals. I recall hearing the LP 20 years ago at a friends house and have looked for it since then but with no luck.
I don't get much of chance to "show off" to others, but when trying to impress myself, I go with Ten Years After: A Space in Time played really, really loud.

Another would be The Who: Who's Next.
Rob Wasserman CD titled "duets"..the track with Stefan Grapelli doing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is wonderful and has great dynamics with Rob's bass and Stefan's violin.

Live Grateful Dead soundboard DAT tapes do a damn good job of displaying dynamics and bass capability as well as soundstaging. Songs are good, too.
To Wstritt: Yes, Sheffield Labs did issue a CD of Thelma Houston's "I've Got The Music In Me". It's not as good as the D-to-D version (obviously), but it's better than I expected. Sheffield also did an LP-reissue of this same recording, using the 1st generation backup analog master tape.
1.Widespread Panic's album Everyday. Huge dynamics with David Schools playing bass, JB's soulful voice and Michael Houser picking the quitar.

2.Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit recorded live at the Georgia Theatre. Absolutley amazing sound! The louder the better. Jimmy Herron, Otil, Col. Bruce, Matt Mundy, Jeff Sipe. If you can find it buy it.

3. The Grateful Dead- One from the Vault. The help on the way/Franklins tower tracks. Phils bass in unstoppable and of course Jerry.
Pragmatist; Great post. I have most of what I like and enough of what others like so that I can please those who would like to appreciate my system.

Before playing, I really do like to 'listen'. Then I(and my system) get the best compliments.
I love it when someone starts a thread like this. It's a GREAT way to discover new music that is " recorded well ". Thanks Kray.

Here are a few songs that I have used for a long time to show off my system.
1. James McMurtry , Candyland . Track 10 ,, " Dusty Pages " . Big ,wide, deep soundstage on my system. I have almost everything James has recorded. John Mellencamp Produced this cd.
2. Fourplay , There first cd . Track 8 ,, " Midnight Stroll " , Track 9 ,, "October morning" , Track 10 ,, "Wish you were here" . Great recordings ! They should show off your system , Big time !
3. Lyle Lovett , and his large band . Track 4 ,, "Good intentions" ,, Track 5 ,, " I know you know" . If your system is working Lyle Lovett and his band should be in your Listening room .

Here is a recent discovery I just bought because of a thread like this one.
Jack Johnson , On and on . Just about any song blows me away !

Now ,, I'm headed out to buy a few cd's that people have been kind enough to post here. Thank you .

BTW , I second Bigjoe ,,, I have Steely Dan , Two against nature , Any song on this cd is "WOW" on my system.
Different systems excel in different kinds of music, so there is no "right answer" to this question.

My system, with three elaborate subwoofer systems reproduces loud organ and chorus music in a way that no little box can approach, but yet that little box might excel for a solo violin (I have one that does).

Some multichannel recordings are spectacular, if you have a multichannel system, but might not be so special in plain stereo.

And for systems with horn midrange/tweeter, dixieland jazz is great.
Thanks guys! i too find i have to go out and buy some CD's.

That Jack Johnson CD is great.

I also found some good ones on the O bother where art thou soundtrack. I have the SACD version.

Willie Nelson - Stardust, and Georgia (sweet harmonica on that one) on the Startdust CD.

I'll have to check out the Steely Dan stuff
Stumpie, you should hear Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales on vinyl... Sounds even better...

For me, a couple of choices are: Louis Armstrong- St. James Infirmary on vinyl and Gary Karr-Adagio di Albinoni on Cisco 24k CD. This last one is duet of double bass virtuoso accompanied by pipe organ. Amazing sound! Cheers,
To add some classical selections:

1. Holst's "The Planets"(eg Mars,Jupiter,Uranus)
Philharmonia Orchestra
John Eliot Gardiner
DG 445-860-2 (1995)

2. Almost anything sung by Jessye Norman
See eg "Brava Jessye! The very best of Jessye Norman"
Philips 454-693-2 (1971-1993)

3. For pure fun: 1958 Mercury Living Presence Version of
Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture"
(remastered for CD 1995)

conducted by Antal Dorati,
played by:

Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
University of Minnesota Brass Band
Bronze Cannon(French,1775)of US Military Acadamy Westpoint
Bells (over 100tons!) of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon at Riverside Church

Mercury 434-360-2
A couple of fun ones: Dafos (Mickey Hart) and Mondo Head (Kodo). Both are audiophile drumming albums, both are superbly recorded.
Sbank , How does Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales sound on Cd ? Unfortunately I do not have a turntable.
Stumpie, Brushfire Fairytales sounds great on CD. it's very good from beginning to end. i need to buy the On and on cd though.
My system sounds so good that John Denver can bring tears to the eyes of the most ardent metal head, or the Carpenters will send chills down the spine of marilyn manson.
For best imaging, Mandolin wind, Rod Stewart, That would be something, Paul McCarthney, and Last Child by Aerosmith. Of course the format would be unique, 4-track open reel tape.
I'm with you Bigjoe, I'm a major Dan fan myself. Hey Nineteen and Glamour Profession from GAUCHO freaks everyone who hears it on my rig for the first time. How do you like their two newest? That was some hiatius aye? Saw them in Denver for the first time in 20 years last fall. Hope their back for a while!!
I get out the Oingo Boingo records. 80s vinyl is so much fun because all that stuff they did in the studio was still largely analog, and the recording engineering had reached its peak. But I also like to get out Sgt. Pepper; I tell my friends: "This will be the BEST you've ever heard this!" I always get comments like, "Wow, I never heard that flute part there before," and "Paul MaCartney's bass sounds like THAT?!," and etc.
I agree with Sdcampbell's recomendation of "I've got the music in me" I hear it on the D to D LP at a friends place, I wanted it also but could not get hold of it.

Some from the top of my head....

"Too Rich for my blood" and Nardis from Patricia Barber's album Cafe Blue

"The girl from Ipanema" Getz/Gilbarto

"Summertime" from Porgy and Bess by Ella and Louis

Track 1 and 2 from Stunz and Farah's album Primal Magic

"The Look of Love" by Dusty Springfield from the Casino Royale's soundtrack album

Track 1 from Cassandra Wilson's album New Moon Daughter

"Cheek to Cheek" By Ella Fitzgerald from Verve's Grammy Winners

"Making Music" from the album of the same name featuring John Maclaughlin, Jan Garberak, Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Churasia.

Mountain'o things by Tracy Chapman on her debut album

S'Wonderful by Diana Krall from her album "The look of love"

Track 9 and 10 from the album Harpes du nouvel age by alan Stivell

"Gailtacht" from “Renaissance of the Celtic Harp” by Alan Stivell

Pablo de Sarasate-Zigeunerweisen op 20 (from Carmen Fantasy) Anne Sophie Mutter with Weiner Philharmoniker (DG)

Track 2 from album by John Williams-Rodrigo: Concierto De Aranjuaz

If I remember more I will come back to this thread.
1) Chris Isaak, The Baja Sessions, track 3 "Only The Lonely" and track 4 "South Of The Border"; GRRRREEEEAATTTT recording, beatiful balance with all frequency ranges, great voice too.

2) Elton John, "Daniel" off any RECORD (LP) not CD. Intricate melody, beautiful song.

3) Aaron Neville, Warm Your Heart cd, any track.

Some other good ones too, but these are my preferred ones.

now that you mentioned it i think i need to pick up that chris isaak cd. i've been wanting to get something from him for a while.

some others...

1. Most of the Stan Getz CD's are great!
2. Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales CD is good.
3. One i always use is 'My love is' by Diana Krall
The Chris Isaak cd is a very good one, makes you wonder why all music is not recorded with great care like that.
I forgot to mention;
Cowboy Junkies; The Trinity Sessions, track 2 "Blue Moon Revisited".
This was recorded on a portable DAT, 1 mic, in a church in Toronto. Terrific coice, great recording. On some parts of the album you can hear the low frequency rumbling (faint) of the HVAC system. Adds to the ambiance.
Dead Can Dance "Into The Labyrinth" Track 1 "Yulunga" (CD)
Vangelis "Blade Runner Soundtrack" (CD)
Bach "Cello Suites" Janos Starker; LP, Speaker's Corner reissue of the Mercury)
Stravinsky "Firebird" Dorati/LSO; LP, Classic Records reissue
Jerry Douglas "Look Out For Hope" (Sugar Hill Records CD)
Jennifer Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" LP, Cyprus original pressing

Many others to choose from, but the above represent a wide variety of musical styles.
For redbook cd:
Mishima--Phillip Glass
Dream Sequence--Tangerine Dream (disc 2)
The "Leslie test"--Stereophile test record (female vocals)
The Legend--Elvis (German import)

For DVD-v: (multichannel)
Fresh Air 8--Manheim Steamroller dts
Video Hits--Queen dts
Story tellers--Billy Idol dts
Hell Freezes Over--Eagles dts
On Air--Alan parsons dts
The Dance--Fleetwood Mac DD

For Dvd-A:
1011 Woodland--The Fixx
From the Front Row: Kansas
Tommy--The Who
There's nothin' like a serious horn section in a monster big band that kicks out the sound to show off your system. Check out "Swingin' for the Fences" by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Turn it up LOUD, stand back and watch out!
Supertramp - "School" from Crime of the Century on MFSL Original Master Recording.
1.Track 8 from Jennifer Warnes - "The Hunter"
2.Title track fom The Well - Jennifer Warnes
3.Spanish Harlem from Rebecca Pidgeon's The Raven (spot on Jjwa and Boa2)
4.KD Laing's Hymns from the 49th Parallel
5.Patrica Barber - Summertime,Ode to Billy Joe (forget the albums).
6.Greg Brown - title track from The Poet Game.

Cheers and have a wonderful 2005.
I just remembered a good one...

"These Bones" - Fairfield Four

The vocal on this one is just downright erie. People at my house always freak out on this one.
Willie Nelson, accompanied (amazingly) by the Beach Boys on "The Warmth of the Sun" from Beach Boys & Various Artists, Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 (River North Nashville 1996) is a high-quality and emotive rendition...especially if you grew up listening to both artists. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is so-so.
Bjork - Homogenic

Peter Tosh - Equal Rights

Van Morrisson - Astral Weeks

Tom Waits - Heart Attack & Vine , Romeo is Bleeding

Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries
Mel Torme, "Too Close for Comfort" from MT Swings Shubert Alley. Great recording from 1960. Mel's voice, the band's horns.

Carmen McRae, "Poor Butterfly" from Sarah: Dedicated to You. Starts a capella, textured and mesmerizing, then the band quietly fills in.

Helen Merrill, "Don't Explain" from Helen Merrill. 1956, and I know can't believe that the first time I heard her, I didn't fall in love.

Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah," from Grace. Mixed feelings about JB, but this sounds great. Vocals and guitar. "Last Goodbye," a rocker, also sounds great.

Steely Dan, "Gaslighting Abbey," from Two Against Nature. This may be cheating, since this sounds great on even so-so systems, but it sounds really great on a good one.

Alison Krauss, Live. I don't know which track -- how about "Lucky One." THis is the CD that convinced my wife that all this money had been worthwhile. You are at the concert, and what can you say about AK's voice?

Lucinda Williams, "Something about what happens when we talk" from Sweet Old World. Now, if you don't know LW, you must approach her first, I think, through her lyrics. But then once you know her, her voice is special and poignant. Kinda like Jimmy Scott, in a way (another recommendation I'll sneak in here - All the Way.)

Blind Boys of Alabama, "Run on for a Long Time," from Spirit of the Century. But don't miss their version of Amazing Grace.

Lyle Lovett, "Penguins" from I Love Everybody. You really could just play this track and leave it there, so far as showing off is concerned. Damn! WHile you're at it, play "I think you know what I mean" -- the opening drums.

Rachmaninov, Sonata no. 1, opus 28, allegro moderato, performed by Yakov Kasman. Do you realize what a textured instrument a piano should be? How dynamic?

Gerry Mulligan, "Just in Time," from What is There to Say? Something about GM's raspy baritone sax and Art Farmer's spitty trumpet. And just terrific jazz too.

Todd Rundgren, "Johnee Jingo" and "Honest Work" from A Cappella. Big, wide open vocals.

Finally (this could go on and on):
Bach, just start at the beginning, Sonatas and Partitas for Violin played on B-string Guitar, by Paul Galbraith. This guitar is, as I understand it, his invention, and goes deep more effortlessly than a standard classical guitar. You hear his breathing, which can distract but also makes the recording more intimate. And Back is THE peak, in my opinion.

Great thread!
It's not "showing off;" it's "demonstrating capabilities!" :-)

There are so many favorites. Here are ten good ones:

1. Jennifer Warnes "The Panther" from "The Well"
2. Dave's True Story "Fever" from debut disc
3. Buddy Holly "True Love Ways" from "Original Master Tapes"
4. Eagles "Hotel California" from "Hell Freezes Over"
5. Diana Krall "Case of You" from "Live In Paris"
6. Miles Davis "My Funny Valentine" from "Cookin'"
7. Keith Jarrett "Koln 1" from "The Koln Concerts"
8. Paul Simon "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes" from "Graceland"
9. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, "A Foggy Day" from "Ella and Louis"
10. Cowboy Junkies "Sweet Jane" from "Trinity Sessions"

Add a little more jazz (some horns, a well recorded piano trio) and some classical (Kronos Quartet recordings are generally well made; some large scale symphonic recordings) and maybe a soundtrack or two (Gladiator, Jurassic Park) and you've put a system through its paces.

Obviously, everyone's list will differ to reflect their own tastes. Enjoy!
I've got my own "demo list" but the two new tracks that I think really stand out are

Jane Monheit, Love me or Leave Me from Taking a Chance on Love.

Dixie Chics, Landslide from Homeland.
Jenna Mammina "Inner Smile" .

I read about this artist here on audiogon so I bought it. It might be the best sounding cd I own now . It is now at the top of my list of cd's to "show off" my system .
You can check it out and order it here ..

I also bought "Meant to be" . Also a great recording . Track 3 "Dirty work" is another "show off" song .

Does anyone know of a cd that sounds as good as this one (same type of music ) ? If so , Let me know , I will buy it .
You Can't Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones. Everyone is very familiar with this song and the many poor recordings of it. When someone actually hears the SACD remaster (Hot Rocks, Disk 2, Trk 7), I always get the same reaction...Wow!

Not that everyone likes what ABKCO did with the mixing, but I'm not complaining. There is still analog hiss, so it is not a perfect recording by any stretch, but just so much better than most people are used too.

Sidenote: Where the heck can I find Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker: I've Got the Music in Me. The Sheffield Lab site indicates that it is back in print, but I can't find it! Little help please?
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"Waves:The Bossa Nova Sessions". I started my vinyl collection in 1958 and this double album (one disc is 45RPM) may be the best sounding non-classical record in my stable.