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.  



Yes, Rounder did put out some nice sounding records with interesting music.  One of my favorites is Michael Hurley's "Have Moicy" --very funny lyrics and quite interesting music  This is one of my personal top record in my collection.  Sugar Hill is also an amazing label.  Your other listings are terrific as well.  I like recordings from Athena.

Audioquest, the cable company, put out some really well recorded stuff with amazing soundstaging and "reach out and touch" realism.  Check out, for example, the Tuxedo Cowboys' "Woman of the Heart" album and Robert Lucas' "Usin' Man Blues."

Clarity Records put out only a few albums, but, they were ultra high quality records, some versions had tracks only on one side of the record to maximize pressing quality.  I own Mary Stallings "Fine and Mellow" and Claudio Gomez "Salamandra."

Any Command Classics recordings produce by Enoch Light from 1959 through 1965. Some of the music is a little hokey but the recordings feature great clarity and accurate instrument tonality. The stereo effects are entertaining and sometimes over produced. You can find these on discogs; the best versions are usually the Gatefold pressed on the grey white and white gold original pressings. The 1970's ABC represses are not quite as good. Hope you try it; great entertainment for $15.00 or less.

The Stylistics - Album titled by same

Curtis Mayfield - Curtis

Marvin Gaye - What’s going on, and I want you

Issac Hayes - Shaft LP, Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses, Joy

The Spinners - Mighty Love

The Ojays - Ship Ahoy

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - Wake Up Everybody

Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life, Innervisions, Talking Book

Billy Paul - 360 Degrees of Billy Paul

Donny Hathaway - Extension of a man, DH Live

I’m a jazz musician and man, but Soul was the music of my youth, and the musical root of my existence.


If you are looking for Blues, the recent release of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Playing for the Mayn at the Door is a remarkable set…available as vinyl and CDs.

Telarc- ravels bolero

CBS Masterworks - most recordings are phenomenal- a standout is Leonard Bernstein playing Coplands rodeo- dynamic range is crazy

jethro tull aqualung Steve Wilson mix 

herbie Hancock - empyrean isles- blue note reissue

Patti smith - dream of life

Sinatra at the sands- great live recording 

neil young- everybody knows this is nowhere

creedence - bayou country

crowded house - temple of low men