Avalon by Rocksy Music
I'll check my favorites list on my music server for the ones I've encountered recently when I get a chance an report back.
There are a couple of more recent Flaming Lips tracks in there I believe that are worth a mention. Also a few remastered Chuck Berry and Elvis tunes and possibly some Muddy Waters, if Muddy qualifies as "rock". How's that for bridging the years and styles? ALso I have recently heard some ancient remastered Beatles with Tony Sheridan tracks that absolutely blew me away upon first listen in terms of sound quality.
I really think this should be broken down by era.Two track,four track, eight track,24 track options.Is it fair to measure a great two track 50's session to a 24 track 70's session?Or a session that was created in a matter of moments or one that took a year to make and was recorded all over.
That is why "Aja" is not only so good,but held in such high regard.If you took a recipe and kept bringing in chefs from everywhere you would have,at the end, a pretty sensational meal.Even if it took a year to cook.The technology has given the musician the ability to eliminate all flaws and still make the recording sound spontaneous,original,Vital and as exciting as if it came together in one magical moment live.When you have succeeded in taking the serpent by the tail and not be bitten you are an artist and simply not a technician.
Recorded simply on four track location recording setups in ad hoc improvised studios the first two lps by The Band
are difficult to beat for the blend of instruments and the uncanny disheveled vocal harmony.There is magic there.
To simply answer the question,i would nominate "Brown eyes" by Fleetwood Mac on the "Tusk" album.An amazing studio sound with angel wings,warmth,honesty and a sensual audio bath.But,that is just me.
Selling gear back in 1978 or so with vinyl as the main source, Steely Dan's Aja album was perhaps generally considered one of the best and most utilized popular recorded rock/pop demo albums for demonstrating sound quality to rock music fans, though not strictly "rock" really throughout in the pure sense. Much similar with Steely Dan's GAucho album afterwards. "The Wall" an DSOM by Floyd were other standards used but more esoteric in appeal. Fleetwood Mac's self named album from the mid seventies that first featured the version of the group that became a monster seller starting with Rumours is another that comes to mind.
Another personal favorite of mine at the time was the 2 disc "The War Of The Worlds" release by Jeff Wayne. I sold more stereo systems using that as a demo than perhaps anything else! Richard Burton's voice as narrator and the orchestral scores reeled in the elders with money and "Forever Autumn" was the feature tune that sealed the deal.
Great memories playing WOTW and others on the best feature system in the house at the front of the store facing the passers by strolling in the mall, and freezing them in their tracks to listen, and often buy. SOmetimes I played things a bit too loud and pissed of some workers in the stores across the corridor. :-). I probably would not be allowed to do something like that at all these days. Things were a bit looser back then, and it paid!
A lot of good stuff has come along since, both on vinyl and digital. I could probably come up with a sizable list of Elton John tunes alone.
Yeah, "Avalon" is defintiely a top 10er. I also really liked "Come On In This House" by Junior Wells, a DTS-CD. From the same album, "Give Me One Reason" with Sonny Landreth on guitar is awesome.
Porcupine Tree's "Lazarus" from the Deadwing Adv. Resolution Surround DVD-A is magnificent, as are *all* of the Porcupine Tree DVD-As...
One of my top favorites is 'Unbroken Chain' on the Grateful Dead's album 'From the Mars Hotel'. This song immediately came to mind since it was only done live a couple of times. To paraphrase Bob Weir' explanation as to why it's never performed live; 'Unbroken Chain' presents a problematic situation causing it to stand apart from our other songs. The harmonic lead comes from Phil Lesh and his melody in the lower registers. Low note frequencies travel at a considerably slower rate of speed than do frequencies in the middle and high registers. This makes the audibility and the cohesion difficult to reproduce in a live environment.
How could we forget The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. I use this to impress as well as the White Album, esp Mother Nature's Son. Then the usual --Steely Dan, PF, Fleetwood Mac, Zep, Blood Sweat and Tears, all of Moondance----and not to mention the vinyl version of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and much of Chicago V. Ashamed to admit to owning Lionel, but it sounds outrageously good.
I agree with Dayglow re: 70s and 80s R&B. Even tho it has nothing to do with audiophile style "realistic/natural" sonics, lots of those records were lavish productions. The theme from Shaft is IMO a production tour de force. As is "Sunshower" by Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band (and many, many others).
On a different front, many of the recordings by Eels feature skillful studio manipulation. In particular, main Eel, Mark Oliver Everett, will (I assume) mic his voice differently for the spoken parts in many of his songs versus the sung parts. The results are always interesting sonically IMO. Instruments are usually recorded very nicely, too, often with notable bass.