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.  


One of my favorite records is one I found in the $1.00 section of a used record store.  It is the very first recording of Ariel Ramirez's "Missa Criolla." (first Vatican approved mass in the vernacular following Vatican II).  The recording is on the Phillips label (the copy I found was on Argentinian Phillips, which is particularly appropriate because Ramirez is from Argentina).  The music is fantastic and the sound of the recording is quite good too.  There are many copies available for as little as $2.00 or so:



Thanks for remindng us about the Nonesuch label. Although not sonically consistent throughout its catalog, when those guys got it right, they produced recordings that still stand up to many of today's best. And the fact that the NS catalog included so much new music -- many  pieces by modern composers that were never recorded in any form elsewhere -- is icing.  Lots of unique material available used online at modest prices.


And for something completely different, how about a thread *warning* people about "not-so-obvious LOWEST fidelity LPs"?


To start the ball rolling, I nominate the Sony Legacy reissue of "Jimi Hendrix Experience Smash Hits," remastered from original 2-channel "master tape" by Bernie Grundman and pressed at QRP.  It's horribly brittle, actually unlistenable on a system that leans (much less older Class D amplification). I have numerous Hendrix original pressings & reissues that include many of the same tracks, and the difference is painfully obvious. Caveat this one.

Great stories @tylermunns to go along with the great recommendations!  Thanks for those.  It almost seems like we're beating the system when we can find amazingly recorded LPs for $5 or less.  Pretty much no money for a treasure trove of audio bliss. 

When it comes to reissues, it is sometimes quite hard to say whether the reissue is better or worse than the original--opinions may vary greatly.  When Classic Records reissued some Led Zeppelin albums, I bought them and a friend and I compared them to the original albums.  To me, the reissues sounded richer and nicer than the originals, but, my friend thought they were stripped of the rough, raw sound that made the albums great.  i could see his point, but, I still liked the reissues.  He got rid of his reissue albums.  I should have bought them because some of these albums go for crazy money these days.  

The mention of Nonesuch vinyl makes me think of how good my vinyl copy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sounds. I’m pretty sure it’s a reissue but it sounds brilliant.