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.  

paulietunes

@laynes ​​​​and @2channel8 thank you for those thorough lists.  I have some of those but I’ll check out some of the others you mentioned.  My copy of Morning Phase also sounds incredible.  

To keep this going, I would add Ry Cooder's soundtrack to the movie "Paris Texas."  Beautifully atmospheric sound.  His other albums are also well recorded--check out "Meeting by the River " and "Paradise and Lunch" (I have, and like, both the original issue and the MoFi reissue).

Many regard Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" to be one of the best live rock recordings.  I do think it is great music and a great sounding album, but, the "live" label is a bit misleading because there was use of extensive studio punch-ins for that recording.  I guess it doesn't matter, the album is terrific.

@cundare2 

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.

 

About 6 years ago. I was at a Los Angeles Orange County Audio Society club event at a high end store near LA, Sunny's Components.

Peter McGrath from Wilson Audio was there, during his talk at the event, he was giving a history of his recording live classical performances. After his talk, I approached him and brought up the contemporary classical Nonesuch recordings mentioned earlier. And his eyes lit up.

Turns out, one of his main mentors when he was learning live recording, was one of the recording engineers responsible for several of these Nonesuch modern classical recordings.

McGrath said something to the effect of, "those budget recordings are a real condemnation of modern recordings".

Miles Davis Quintet - Kind of Blue (MSFL 45 rpm)

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (MFSL 45 rpm)

Toto - Toto IV (Columbia LP)

Ten Years After - A Space in Time (new 180g with both original and new mixes)

Blood, Sweat & Tears - BS&T III (especially "Lucretia's Revenge")

Any Mel Torme on Concord Jazz.