Post by Marc Phillips Post by BrianEWilliams
I recently setup my LP playback system after a long break, and I have
really been enjoying listening to it. I notice a VAST difference in
the sound quality of various LP's, and I am interested in suggestions
for some good sounding LP's. I may end up trying to buy some of these
from Ebay, and I would really appreciate input. FWIW, I am mostly
interested in popular vocal music with a strong emotional quality.
My own nomination for the best sounding LP is Heart's first album.
WOW! Everytime I listen to it, I end up somewhere a million miles
away. Not sure how they did it, but the band, producer, and engineers
really deserve a pat on the back.
That Heart album does really sound good, doesn't it?
Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances/Vocalise, recorded by Donald Johanson and the
Dallas S.O., on the Athena label. This is by far the best sounding LP I've
heard. Incredible dynamics.
Sonny Rollins' Way Out West. Shelly Manne's drum kit sounds absolutely real to
me, especially the ride cymbal.
Tsuyushi Yamamoto's Midnight Sugar, on the Three Blind Mice label. Most
realistic piano I've heard on a recording.
Thomas Dolby's The Flat Earth. I know it's mostly synthesizers, but the detail
is incredible, and it sounds clean and punchy.
The Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime. One of the greatest rock albums of
all time. The recording is minimalist, as it should be for a rock trio, but it
sounds very, very realistic.
I also have an original Parlophone UK pressing of Sgt. Pepper (not the mono,
unfortunately), and I continue to be amazed at how good it sounds, especially
when compared to other Beatles LPs.
There are many, many more.
Of course, a lot of this depends on musical tastes, but here are a few of my
favorite nominations, from different genres, for best sounding LPs:
(1) Fremaux, Birmingham Symphony, Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 (The "Organ"
Symphony) - on a Klavier Heavy Vinyl release/reissue (if you can't find or
afford the original). Awe-inspiring with great dynamics. As an aside, the
famous melody from this work was heard throughout the soundtrack of "Babe" -
(2) L.A. Philharmonic, Various selections by Wagner, on a Sheffield
Direct-to-Disc LP - got a Grammy award for engineering excellence when
originally released. Wait until you hear Ride of the Valkyries on this one!
(1) Dave Brubeck - Take Five - on a Columbia Six-Eye, or if too hard to find,
the Classic Records reissue of this jazz classic is excellent.
(2) Any of the 3 Harry James big band LP's on Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LPs - I
like King James version best, but all are exceptional, and you'll think the
musicians are in the room!
(3) Bill Berry - For Duke - on M&K - another fabulous and justly well known
direct-to-disc classic with staggering sonics.
(4) Manhattan Transfer - Live! - on Mobile Fidelity. (Most of the Manhattan
Transfer recordings, even in their non-MoFi versions, are very well done).
(5) L.A. Four - Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte - on East Wind Direct to Disc
LP - one of the best sounding direct to disc LPs you will ever hear, and worth
what you have to pay for it :) Mostly brazilian music such as Black Orpheus,
and if you like this you might also want try and find a copy on Verve of "Jazz
Samba" with Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd.
(1) Eric Clapton - Unplugged (my copy is on German vinyl) - very realistic,
(2) Muddy Waters - Folk Singer - on Mobile Fidelity - one of the best sounding
blues records you will ever hear. Unfortunately, the high demand has driven up
the price for this, but if you hear it and want a truly great listening
experience, you might be tempted to search for a reasonably priced copy.
(3) Soundtrack - Cat People (a Georgio Moroder score), and a hair raising
performance by David Bowie of "Putting Out the Fire With Gasoline". Very dark,
dynamic music that richly conveys the themes of the film. When I was first
trying to decide if purchasing electrostatics would be OK with pulsating,
driving, dynamic music, this was one of the LPs used for a test. I now own
Martin Logans - 'nuff said.
(4) And for something completely different, the Ry Cooder recording of "Jazz".
An unusual collection of different musical instruments, ragtime, slide guitar -
hard to categorize, but Ry Cooder is worth hearing on just about *any* of his
LPs (Chicken Skin Music is also highly recommended). Unless you've won a
lottery, you won't be able to afford the Mobile Fidelity version of "Jazz" ,
but the everyday Warner Bros. version is very good sounding.
(5) Rickie Lee Jones - Try her first album "Rickie Lee Jones" or "Pop Pop" -
the latter is very closely miked, very intimate, and is very well recorded.
Bruce J. Richman