If you can play DVD-A, Willy Nelson's "Night and Day" on Surrounded-By.
I have several Dwight Yoakam CD's and they're all very well recorded. He moves among several styles of country but some of it is definitely honky-tonk.
Nottinhillbillies the country project of Mark Knophler on CD. Expencive rarity though...
Wayne "The Train" Hancock has a really well recorded live album titled "Swing Time". If you haven't heard his stuff, I highly recommend it.
A lot of Merle Haggards stuff is well recorded and he has always had a great band.
I like many well recorded Americana albums that have wonderful soundstaging and beautiful seperation of vocals and instruments. I can highly recommend CDs and LPs
by Dave Alvin (Ashgrove), Lucinda Williams (her last five albums are brilliant), Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue), Ryan Adams (Cold Roses), Neko Case (Cyclone) Steve Earle (Jerusalem), Willie Nelson (Teatro).
Actually quite a bit of country music is well recorded. You probably can't go too far wrong with most. Just pick an artist or three and go for it.
Jamey Johnson "That Lonesome Song" a country concept album of sorts.
just released this year & not particularly well recorded but not bad either...if you like alt-country...John Doe & the Sadies, Country Club...former X man & the great Sadies performing some real honkey tonk era classics
Good call, Pehare. In fact, John Doe is STILL an X man. Saw them last night in Asheville, NC, and they sound better than ever! The new countrified album with the Sadies is very good, too.
Jorma Kaukonen "Blue Country Heart"
Outstanding music and sonics, especially on SACD.
Dwight Yoakam "Hillbilly Delux"
Jamie Johnson "That Lonesome Song"
Merle Haggard "One For the Momma That Tried"
Kasey Chambers "Wayward Angel"
Just a few that lean country that also sound good. Of course, if you go toward bluegrass there is Alison Krauss.
joe ely-'honkytonk masquerade'....jerry jeff walker-'contrary to ordinary' or 'jerry jeff'
The Derailers " Full Western Dress"
The Mavericks " Music For All Occasions" & "Trampoline"
All but MFAO are HDCD encoded.
Does Lyle Lovett count as country to you? He has some excellent recordings....
Dodgealum, thank you for your recs, Dwight, Merle,I would include Big City. Love Merle and Dwight, among others. I happen to think the first album by the artist formerly know as Garth Brookes is great.
I would add to Vegasears recommendation, The Derailers "Reverb Deluxe".
Conway Twitty had a wonderfully blues-like voice. His albums sound great on almost anything. Patsy Cline is a wonderful choice as well as Jim Reeves.
Try Rythym Country and Blues. A compilation of songs with a country and a blues artist singing together. Song selection is good. For example, The Weight sung by the Staple Singers and Marty Stuart and Rainy Night in Georgia - Sam Moore, Conway Twitty. Great. My favorite on the CD is I Fall to Pieces - Aaron Neville, Trisha Yearwood. Aaron is so clean and Trisha is so pure.
Seconding Lyle Lovett for good recordings. IMO, also Gillian Welch, and the Hank Williams tribute "Timeless."
George Jones, the Bradley Barn Sessions, 1994
A lot of country is starting to succumb to the loudness wars though. Dwight Yoachams Best from Rhino is horribly compressed to where you have to turn the volume almost off and then it doesn't sound good either.
Not sure it qualifies as old school or not, but the Judd's recordings are fabulous.
Zac Brown band, Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson and Bonnie Raitt have that honky tonk feel to much of their music. I find that they are on good labels and have very good sonics and musical content.
Surprised no mention of Johnny Cash, whose later releases are especially good; we use his "Wayfaring Stranger" to demo.
Tom, which Dixie Chicks recording do you like? I find "Home," which has very good music, a "classic" modern recording: edgy, forced and shrill.
I agree with you jdoris, I have a couple of dixie Chicks albums and while I respect their obvious talent, the CD's are nearly unlistenable for any length of time. Shame
IMO, comming from one who doesn't like country a lot, a good recording and fun easy to listen to music for me and others who i have shared it with is Willie Neilson and Wynton Marsallis 'two men with the blues'.
Anyone who listens to country music should listen to Emmylou Harris. She's not old school honky tonk but she is definitely country and not country-pop or whatever it's called.
Her early albums were remastered by Rhino Records and all her work has good sound if not Audiophile grade.
She released a box set "Songbird" a few years ago, subtitled, "Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems." I think this set probably has the best sound. Production credits note that the set was Mastered in Analog by Brian Ahern and Donivan Cowert. It may not be the best place for someone to start their Emmylou collection but the music on it is an excellent sampling of her work.
I'm not a fan of her "Wrecking Ball" album and I think her voice has declined since then. I'd check out anything prior to "Wrecking Ball" first.
Two Men with the Blues on vinyl is one of the better sounding records that I own. Emmylou's Wrecking Ball as well as Willie Nelson's Teatro are two of my favorite country-like cds of all time. The songs are outstanding. I have used both in demos because the sound is extraordinary on both thanks to Daniel Lanois.
Incidentally, Teatro prominently features EmmyLou on numerous duets.
From "Wrecking Ball" forward, Emmylou has some nice recordings, though after the follow up, "Red Dirt Girl," I've not been grabbed by the music. I prefer the "new age" Emmylou recording the older recordings I've heard, including the well-regarded re-issue of "Luxury Liner."
I'll definitely checkout "Songbird," which I don't know.
Lucinda Williams cares about sound, and has some good recordings: see especially the "delux edition" of "Car Wheels" (musically, the album is a masterpiece, IMO).
Ricky Skaggs-Live in London(CD). This was recorded and mixed using the 3M 32 track digital recorder. Most importantly it gets the tonality and timbre right, producing a relaxed and liquid sound. Even if the bass and treble are not SOTA there still well above average. My source is a Northstar Sapphire which takes joy in finding any flaw in a recording. Believe me this is a very clean recording.