Your Not-So-Obvious Best Fidelity LPs

I’ve spent over three years building up to the system I have now.  I’m really happy with it and my wife and I love sitting in our listening room spinning various vinyl most evenings.  Rather than researching and testing gear, I want to spend this year adding great recordings to our collection.

So what are the albums you have that every time you play it you're continually amazed at its fidelity?  You might have spent $80 on it or just $1 or maybe it was a hand-me-down decades ago.  Any genre really.

And if we can please avoid the most obvious choices (which are truly wonderful) such as Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Diana Krall, etc.  I’m looking for albums, (vinyl only please) that probably fly under the radar for most folks.

I'll start….

James Taylor - Dad Loves His Work - this was just given to me by a friend a couple of weeks ago as he had an extra copy.  I have plenty of JT albums but I didn’t have this one yet.  As soon as I put it on I could tell it was special.

Edie Brickell - Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars - My wife requested this one so I found a NM copy on Discogs for a reasonable price.  This kind of blew my socks off.  Sounds really wonderful and present and the music still holds up.

Counting Crows - August and Everything After - I surprised my wife with this one as it’s one of her favorite albums.  They really nailed the recording and pressing on this one.  It’s quite impressive. 

Ben Folds - What Matters Most - He’s one of our favorite songwriters but trying to find a copy of anything of his or Ben Folds Five for under $80 is nearly impossible.  This album was released just last year and they obviously paid special attention to the recording quality.  Sounds just phenomenal. 

Steely Dan - Northeast Corridor - Obviously everyone knows how amazing their studio recordings are but this album might be unknown to some as it came out just a few years ago.  I bought it on a whim knowing nothing about it.  It’s amazing.  As if they would release an album with less than stellar fidelity.  If you’re a Dan fan, this album is a no-brainer.

REM - Automatic for the People - Completely hypnotic.  Stunning recording.

OK, that’s enough from me.  


Well, I just picked up an original pressing of Joni Mitchell Blue.  I’ve been working on the song ‘River’ as a beginning piano student.  I mainly listen to Classical.  I think the last time I bought a non classical lp was in 1980. Supertramp Breakfast In America

Great choices!  I have both of those albums although my Blue is a repress.  It does seem that Supertramp was a band loathe to put out anything less than stellar fidelity.   

@mahler123 please feel free to suggest your favorite classical LPs that have stunning fidelity.  I know so little about classical but I would love to add some great recordings to my collection.  

Who else has some contributions?

Allegri / Mundy / Palestrina, The Tallis Scholars Directed By Peter Phillips – 
Gregorio Allegri - Miserere / Vox Patris Caelestis / Missa Papae Marcelli (Classics For Pleasure 1980)

Any of the RCA Living Stereo lps will do, particularly ones featuring Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony or Arthur Rubinstein. Mercury Living Presence lps and the Everest records cut with 35 mm film tape. Decca lps of the early stereo era, harder to get in the U.S., are also excellent.  By the seventies, those labels had slipped and were working with terrible vinyl.  Phillips and Deutche Grammophone then rose to the top with quiet surfaces.  I always prefered Phillips, particularly Haitink conducting and Claudio Arrau and Alfred Brendel, pianists.  DG had von Karajan, but they were always somewhat problematic in the bass.  Early music labels such as Telefunken Die Alte Worke and Decca L’ouiseau Lyre were treasured for their repertoire, but the recordings were more hit and miss, veering towards harshness

Thanks @mahler123 really appreciate your insights and recommendations.  Time to hit Discogs to see if I can find a couple of these!

looking forward to hearing from others as well…..any genre of your favorites with unbelievable fidelity.

Miles Davis - In A Silent Way

John Schofield - Hand Jive

Joe Henderson - State of The Tenor Vol 1


Les Humphries Singers - Kansas City

The Shirelles - Lost and Found

Harry - Harry Nilsson

 Pousette-Dart Band --Amnesia

Duke Ellington   Masterpieces

The Okanes  Tired of the Running

Orleans    S/T

NRBQ  Tiddlywinks

Little Feat   The Last Record Album

@grislybutter @bigtwin @winoguy17 thank you for your suggestions.  Really appreciate it as these would otherwise not be on my radar.

Jennifer Warnes - “Famous Blue Raincoat”

America - “America”

Wynton Marsalis. All of his stuff


. . . for starters

I didn't get not-so-obvious part, because what I see here is so obvious, usual and easily comprehended. 

@czarivey hmmm….not to me.  I get that this is subjective and not factual.  I was just trying to stay away from the usual, Hell Freezes Over, Aja, DSOM, Live in Paris sort of albums that we usual see with these kinds of threads.  

Happy to see some different submissions and looking forward to some more.  I’m sorry these are not novel to you but perhaps there will be in subsequent posts.

Shostakovich: Symphony #9, on Everest label (SDBR 3054).

I believe Everest recorded to 35mm sproketed magnetic tape. Really robust format. Recently listened to it and I was amazed at the recording and playback quality.

Grateful Dead: Reckoning. The Acoustic Sounds reissue.

Live, acoustic set. Excellent recording by Dan Healy.

Legrand Jazz. The Impex reissue.

Beautiful recorded in 1958 at the famed Columbia 30th St. studio.French arranger Michael Legrand assembled various jazz musicians including Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ben Webster to perform his arrangements of jazz standards.

Not so obvious, but, indeed, records pressed and released in the 90s may have the best mastering and sound and here’s my list of such:

Sasha and John Digweed -- Northern Exposure

David Bowie -- EarthLing (original 1995 release on vinyl)

Depeche Mode -- Ultra (original 1997 release on vinyl)

Stan Getz -- Appasionado

Bohren & Der Club of Gore -- Midnight Radio (1995 release on vinyl and CD)

The last one mentioned is an incredible nearly 3 hours album done mainly on low frequencies and with very slow tempo like around 30bpm.

Some of those records above may have 4-figure price if not now, then in the very near future.


@paulietunes cool thread!
Most of my great quality records are Decca or some German pressing, like the ones I listed. 

Frank Zappa's "Thingfish" 

Robin Thrower's "For Earth Below"

Al DeMeola's "Scenario" 

@roadwhorerecords @grislybutter @czarivey thank you for those contributions!  Hope to get to hear some of these on my system in the near future.

Who else has some suggestions for us to hear?

What a great post paulietunes, interesting and thought provoking. Thanks to bigtwin, I listened to Miles Davis In A Silent Way last night (via Qobuz), never heard this record before, absolutely fantastic! I am going to make my way through everyone's recommendations. The joy of finding new music.

@mgattmch thank you!  I’m enjoying this, too, and hopefully this post will continue to receive more recommendations.  Good to spend the winter getting exposed to different music and building up the collection with great recordings.  

I have often sung the praises of a series of recordings made by Nonesuch back in the 70's. Some are called "Spectrum New American Music". 

These recordings are quite amazing with regards to soundstage, imaging and the preproduction of other spatial cues. 

If you want to hear what a realistic, natural sounding soundstage sounds like, these recordings will do that. I can easily imagine getting up from my listening seat, and walking into the soundstage among the musicians. 

I listen to plenty great sounding rock recordings, but recordings like these are qualitatively on a different level.

And the thing is, these were a budget label when they were released. Not in the least bit considered "audiophile".

Musically, YMMV, since these tend to be pretty 'thorny' and atonal sounding (I love it!).  

They all tend to  have this visual format:



Thanks for sharing about those Nonesuch LPs. Even though I’ve been a classical LP collector since the ’70s, I wasn’t aware of that series, although I’m not a fan of atonal or serial compositions. Are any of them more tonal?

One of the best sounding records I've ever heard is ABC's 'Lexicon of Love' and its amazing production by Trevor Horn; for me, it's right up there with 'Aja' if not even better; I'd sure like to see a UHQR double-45 of this one.... 

At the last Capital Audiofest, I spent a lot of time hanging out with and helping Phillip O'Hanlon, who was exhibiting Graham speakers.  He is known for his vast and eclectic collection of LPs.  I brought for him to hear a record from my collection that he immediately went on line to purchase from Discogs.  It is David Peabody's "Americana" collection of folk music (Peabody is an Englishman who is a big fan of American folk music).  This record is quite cheap on Discogs, but, it is incredibly well recorded  I use the track "Sewing Machine Blues" as one of my standard demonstration tracks.

The Impex pressing of Jennifer Warnes "The Well" is pretty nice, as is Famous Blue Raincoat mentioned earlier (also Impex).



Grant Green - Idle Moments

Santana - Abraxas

Stevie Ray Vaughan- Couldn't Stand the Weather 

Leonard Cohen - Live in London 

@kerrybh I've hear that SRV album and it's really fabulous.  Plus I need a better copy of Abrades than the one I currently own.

Loggins & Messina--Native Son

War--Why Can't We Be Friends

Checkfield--Distant Thunder

Blood, Sweat & Tears II


All the music is good too.

Best of Three Dog Night

Blood Sweat and Tears (original)

Hope by Hugh Masekela

The Raven by Rebecca PIdgeon

Jazz at the Pawnshop

Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival

Great suggestions and thank you @jwei and @dorkwad 

I love my copy of Bill Evans Live at the Village Vanguard.  I’ll have to check out the Montreux album.

I also find many direct to disc records to deliver superb sound (the master lacquer is cut live and direct from the mixing board without an intervening tape recording).  Sheffield Records and M & K Realtime made many good sounding examples.  I particularly like M & K’s Bill Berry Allstar “For Duke” record and their Earl Hines “Fatha.”  Sheffield examples include Thelma Houston’s “I’ve Got the Music in Me” and Amanda McBroom’s “Growing Up in Hollywood Town.”  
I also like jazz recordings from the Japanese label East Winds (e.g., Great Jazz Trio’s “Direct From LA”).  Another spectacular Japanese company is Three Blind Mice (try the Yamamoto Trio “Midnight Sugar”).

Curtis Mayfield 'Live'.

Most Jeff Beck.

Most Frank Zappa.

For classical, just about anything on the Proprius and Arkiv labels. 



For classical music, consistently very good sounding records were produced by the label Lyrita (exclusively British composers); I have never heard even a so-so Lyrita.  For 1950-60’s, RCA and Mercury recordings are also mostly good.  Some of the best chamber music recordings I’ve heard came from a very obscure East German label called NOVA.

When I want to show that stereo recordings have not really improved since the late 1950’s, and early 1960’s, I play some original “six eye” Columbia records, such as, Duke Ellington’s “Blues in Orbit” or Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”  Both of these have been reissued a number of times but sound best in the original version.

When I want to show how good mono recordings sound, I play Sonny Rollins’ “Saxophone Colossus”.

Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things

Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties

In classical

Haendel Duetti et Cantate Da Camera on Harmonia Mundi is one I keep coming back to along with...

The Film Music of Ingmar Bergman (Mozart, Chopin, Handel, Scarlatti) by Kabi Lareti on Proprius - difficult to find now and unfortunately Proprius's vinyl was never very good even when new. But the recording is outstanding.

Buddy Guy - A Man and The Blues on Vanguard - from the 60’s when he was playing a grittier, more sparse style. 

+1 Curtis Mayfield Live - love it. John Hyatt, Crossing Muddy Waters is a good one and I like David Bowie, Hunky Dory too

ZZ Top Deguello

Another Bernie Grundman masterpiece. Turn up "Fool for your Stockings" and listen to what your system can do.

Two more spectacular recordings that I have heard, and own, only in reissued versions:

1)  "Satchmo Plays King Oliver"--1960, Audio Fidelity (original issue), Classic Records reissue.

2)  "Alternate Blues" (Gillespie, Terry, Hubbard, Peterson)-1980, Analogue Productions reissue.

Great sound AND good music do not often go together in a single record.  This is an example of one record having both:

Richard and Linda Thompson:  "Shoot Out the Lights" Hannibal Records.

If you want to immerse yourself in great controversy, google "hot stamper" or the company selling these records--Better Records   The claim is that, even within a particular issue of an album, there are certain stampers that are better than others and the resulting pressings are the ones to covet.  Some hot stampers go for thousands of dollars. 

I have not bought any of these hot stampers myself.  However, long before hot stampers became a thing, a friend played two very clean versions of a particular record--both original pressings, both with same covers, dead-wax markings, etc., yet one sounded much more alive and vibrant.  Were the two records from different pressing plants?  Was this an example of a "hot stamper" vs. an ordinary stamper?  I don't know, but, sort of thing adds more complications when hunting down versions of favorite albums.

Out of so many, just a very few of my favorites:

Any of the Sheffield Labs, Direct-to-Disc recordings of 3-4 decades ago. (they're all over the internet at ridiculously low prices)

Linda Ronstadt - "What's New" (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra)

Jennifer Warnes - "Famous Blue Raincoat" (or anything else she's done)

Tower of power - "Live and in Living Color"

Stephan Grappelli / Barney Kessel - "I Remember Django"

Oscar Peterson - "We Get Requests"

Deep Purple--Made in Japan

Supertramp--Crime of the Century

Michael Franks--Passion Fruit

Loggins & Messina--Full Sail

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Eva Cassidy--Live At Blues Alley

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones--Girl At Her Volcano


Janis Ian--Breaking Silence

Tanika Tikaram--Sweet Keeper

Nylons--One Size Fits All

Chris Isaak--San Francisco Days

Neil Young--Live At Massey Hall

Elton John--Tumbleweed Connection

Chris Jones--Roadhouses & Automobiles

Basia--Time & Tide

Heart--Dreamboat Annie

Eagles--Hotel California


Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays--Wichita Falls

Marcus Miller--Free

Marcus Miller--Silver Rain

Stanley Clarke--East River Drive

Stanly Clarke

Gregory Porter--Be Good

George Benson--Bad Benson

Michael Hedges--Beyond Boundaries

Kenny G--New Standards

Herbie Hancock--River

Anne Bisson--Blue Mind

Josefine Cronholm--Wild Garden

Ozone Percussion Group--La Bamba

Manhattan Transfer--Extensions

Christian McBride--Gettin’ To It

Michael Franks--Time Together

Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass--Big Band Jazz

GRP Fusion

Weather Report--Heavy Weather


Alison Krauss--Forget About It

Sandi Patti--More Than Wonderful

Dianne Reeves--Never Too Far

Dianne Reeves--Quiet After the Storm

Vanessa Fernandez--Use Me


Mannheim Steamroller--Fresh Air (all albums)

Stevie Ray Vaughn--Double Trouble

Lyle Lovett--Joshua Judges Ruth

The Wallin’ Jennys--40 Days

Luther Vandross--Dance With My Father


Again, all albums good music in addition to the great sound.






We agree on Sheffield D-to-D recordings, although I find some of the music to be so-so.  The same goes with other D-to-D recording companies, such as M & K Realtime.  I like the other non- D-to-D records you recommend, particularly the "What's New" suggestion.

I have a few more suggestions of records with both good sound and music:

Kate and Anna McGarrigle (self titled)

Hubert Sumlin: "Blues Party"

Cowboy Junkies: "Black-Eyed Man"