I can see that @tostadosunidos. Those Southerners have an unfair advantage ;-) . Have you heard Patsy’s very early recordings, before Owen Bradley began producing her? She was much more Hillbilly early on, almost Rockabilly (as were guys like George Jones and Johnny Horton, and the great Wanda Jackson, whose two recent albums were produced by Jack White!).
Another great early Rock ’n’ Roll act recorded in good sound were The Everly Brothers. Both their Cadence (late-1950’s) and early Warner Brothers’ albums (1960 onward) possess good recorded sound, especially on the Ace Records (UK) LP’s pressed in the 1980's.
Just get into the early stereo symphonic and jazz recordings from 1957 to 1965. Mono recordings, both classical and jazz, prior to the stereo age can sound great too. Try recordings from Westminister, RCA, London. For jazz try Pacific Jazz, Contemporary, Riverside ...and plenty more.
The "Born To Run" mud was created via electronic reverb, intentionally. Bruce said he wanted the album to sound like Roy Orbison as produced by Phil Spector. He failed on both accounts. Ironically, Roy’s Monument label recordings possess incredible sound quality!
Steely Dan's music is always technically perfect, often loved by musos but that's about it. Kind of the opposite to Springsteen which despite often dubious recording quality usually manages to connect on an emotional level.
His current album 'Western Stars' is a career highlight, even by sonic standards. 'Nebraska' is another, a real lo-fi back to basics classic.
As for 'Born to Run', one of the seminal 70s records, nothing will ever remove the endlessly overdubbed 'mud'.
Thanks for the reminder, Ray. I'm guilty of taking Van for granted, as he has been around for so long. He's one of my favorite singers of his generation, and I already thought so when I saw live him in Them in 1967. I love his duet with Richard Manuel on "4% Pantomime" on The Band's Cahoots album, and Van stole the show at The Last Waltz. He can be rather sullen and anti-social, but so can I ;-) .
Not on any audiophiles radar, much less the vinyl crowd, but I just recently bought the Teskey Brother's Run Home Slow new album on vinyl. I don't know anything about vinyl and the vinyl part of my system is basic to say the least....old Sony direct drive, Grado Black, $50 phono pre....but this album sounds great. Better than some of my other tiny vinyl collection. I can't point to any specific feature of the SQ that stands out. It just sounds good. My attention drifts away from the system to the music. I have no idea how this album stacks up to other high end vinyl pressings but for $20 it is one of the better recordings I own. Smooth, warm, rich, natural.
Or "big" sounding symphonic albums that don't sound too thin with good bottom end.
Stuff that I can show off my system to friends and they go "wow".
If you are equipped to play CDs, try to find the recording of Dvorak's "New World" symphony (Symphony No. 9) on the Chesky label, identified as Chesky CD31, Jascha Horenstein conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It is out of print, but is probably findable in used condition on eBay and possibly at Amazon.
When your friends have raised their jaws back to the normal position after listening to it, they will fall again when you tell them that it was recorded in 1962!
Here's what I've been using for a long time: Weather Report's I Sing The Body Electric and Sweet Nighter. Columbia Records LPs. The songs respectively are: The Unknown Soldier and Boogie Woogie Waltz. Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and crew show how to really do jazz-fusion!
Show off? The Mobile Fidelity 45 RPM of Dire Straits Brothers in Arms ...if you can get a good copy.
Really well recorded drums? Dave Brubeck Time Out
A Meeting By The River is indeed impressive. If you can get into it. Which is a very important point. You really want to create a favorable impression, you play well recorded music that the listener likes.
Excuse me: loves.
Only audiophiles are impressed by technically accurate reproduction. What impresses everyone else is hearing the music they love sound better than they ever dreamed.
Sometimes choosing a certain label will ensure a good recording. ECM and Chesky come to mind but there are others. On Tidal, look for albums by Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, and produced by Manfred Eicher. These are in the jazz genre but are well produced. The ECM label usually means a good production. You may not like the genre but you'll appreciate the quality of the recording.
As roberjerman suggests, a direct-to-disk LP. Once you've heard one, everything else sounds veiled, compressed, and lifeless. Sheffield made a bunch of them, both Pop and Classical. There are other d-2-d labels, but the Sheffields are easier to find and cheaper to buy. You may not like the music much, but for sound they are unmatched.
For albums made with a recorder, the releases on the Water Lily label possess instrumental timbres as natural and sonics as transparent as have ever been recorded onto tape. I suggest "A Meeting By The River", acoustic guitar by Ry Cooder.
@mofimadness I need to broaden my flavors to Steely Dan then. They've just not been on my radar. They strike me as a bit boring and eh. But many of the things I love now, i had the same opinion of before I gave them a good shot. It's clear I need to do the same for Steely Dan.
Mark Knopfler's Tracker. Mostly traditional music, real instruments, well produced. Really shows off a system.
I'm not sure what you mean by "over produced" but if you want to show off your system Steely Dan's Aja is hard to beat. Their Two Against Nature might just beat it though. Some have referred to Steely Dan's work as "over produced" but they are mistaking it for "perfectly produced". I have heard that Steely Dan used a drum machine on one of their albums. It was not Aja which features Steve Gadd and the legendary Bernard Purdie. I think Jeff Porcaro played drums on Gaucho.