laurence juber-the collection
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Acoustic guitar is my passion-Try these titles for both sonics(some better than others) and music:
DON ROSS-HURON STREET-The man has to have six arms!
ROB EBERHARD YOUNG-STICKS AND STONES
DOYLE DYKES-GITARRE 2000
DON ROSS-PASSION SESSIONS
DEAN MAGRAW-SEVENTH ONE
CURANDERO-CURANDERO-Anything this band does is incredible.
WAYNE JOHNSON-KINDRED SPIRITS
DOMINIC MILLER-FIRST TOUCH-This guy is Sting's guitar player
STEVE STEVENS-FLAMENCO A GO GO-Yes, it's a bit kitzy but cool nonetheless.
SOUNDS OF WOOD AND STEEL VOLUMES ONE AND TWO-A Windham Hill compilation in collaboration with Taylor Guitars. Some really good stuff and some so-so.
Last but not least, the soundtrack to DR.T AND THE WOMEN-While not technically a guitar album, it is the finest example of how acoustic instruments should be recorded.
Lots of Choices above. How bout Martin Simpson's "Cool and Unusual" or if you like traditional American Gospel "A Closer Walk With Thee" by Simpson is beautiful.
the first Rice and Grisman album "Tone Poems"
If you like more country Norman Blake's early 70s effort, "Whiskey before Breakfast", is still one of my favorite in your lap flatpickin LPs.
I like "Little Lion" by Brooks Williams. Nicely recorded solo and duo (overdubbed x 1) guitar. Also use "Tone Poems" mentioned above. Also Larry Coryell acoustic discs (for acoustic jazz that is first rate--again either solo or over dubbed acoustic guitar) (rare) such as "Twelve Frets to One Octave"--look for a used one at amazon.com.
I don't have a specific test disk to suggest, but would note two points. Firstly, beware New Age "acoustic" guitar recordings such as those made famous by Windham Hill-type artists. These generally feature very pumped up, exagerated sonics, designed to sound cavernously huge with ultra-sustain, acheived through compression and reverb studio effects. While some folks will enjoy this sound (can't stand it meself), it is not informative speaker test material. Secondly, let me opine that I think a great and neglected genre for doing just this sort of test is flamenco guitar music. Guitar in general is not terribly demanding for a speaker in many ways (not possessed of the greatest range of frequencies or dynamics, doesn't have difficult duration, and must be mic'ed close, limiting spacial perspective), but it does have some good things going for it. For one, we're all familiar with what a real acoustic guitar sounds like in a real room, much as we are with piano. In addition, well-recorded nylon- or gut-string classical guitar should never sound at all "electronic" in character, something easily perceived (not so much with steel-string arch-top [jazz] or flat-top [almost everything else] acoustics). Finally, flamenco guitar in particular exceeds just about all other instruments and musics in testing one crucial quality that any speaker with audiophile "aspirations to greatness" must have in spades: Articulation - specifically through the heart of the midrange and lower treble. The combination of highly percussive attack and short decay, on both rapidly strummed passages and lightning-quick single note runs (and if there is a dancer, added to by the foot-stamps and castenets), or the machine-like intensity of right-hand tremolo technique, is incredibly revealing of any inability on the part of the speaker to get out of the way and follow the music accurately - right where it counts the most. (Sorry about not making recommendations, but all of my flamenco is on long-out-of-print LP's. I also agree with suggestions to try bluegrass music, but guitar is usually not the featured instrument, and the ring of steel strings and general cacauphony of the band will make it harder to use for pin-point diagnostics.)
There's an XRCD cd entitled Flamenco Passion that is just a fabulous recording containing a very articulate and fast flamenco guitar(s) along with a nice cello.
A bit more mainstream is a country cd called 'Come on Come on' by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Excellent recording with much guitar fast and slow and cello too.
Acoustic steel string: Dire Straits "On Every Street" track 8 on the CD.
Guitar chords on Bob Dylan's Hurricane.
The three best acoustic guitars to listen ever are trio of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and Paco DeLucia - "Sunday Night at San Francisco" where you can hear still string(Al) nylon string (Paco and John)
Easy to find is the Clapton "Unplugged" CD (which I use for this test). I use track 13 (think that's it) because it also has a well recorded piano solo (kills two birds with one stone). I have even better recordings but prefer this one as I am very familiar with Clapton's playing style and guitar sound, as are most.
No question about it, CFB's above recommendation of Steven Stills, "Stills Alone" CD and the "Treetop Flier" track in particular, is one of the most amazingly real CDs out there. Being a huge Stills fan, I purchased it as soon as it was released, since I saw him do it live (treetop) at a CSN concert years back. This particular track was written many moons ago in the 70s (like "Southern Cross" was) and released 20 years later. Alas this CD on an independant label is out of print.......Frank
Almost forgot, William Ackerman's Past Light (Windham Hill label).
A fantastic cd recorded in 1983 and yes, it does contain some digital hash. But still an excellent recording. The music itself is almost mesmerizing track after track with some of the most steel strings you'll hear on an acoustic guitar. Along with a clarinet, a cello, and some the sweetest and most adrenalin filling violin I've heard on tracks 6 and 9.
If you can't tell by now, I have played this cd more than once.
Thanks guys for so many excellent suggestions. zaikesman thank-you for your input, it's appreciated, please drop me a line if you should discover a worthwhile flamenco guitar recording on cd. One of my favorite test cd's is "A meeting by the river" by Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt on the excellent Water Lily Acoustics label. Thanks again, cheers R.