Have fun and happy listening!
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1. Fitzgerald/Pass - Again
2.Dead Can Dance - Into the Labyrinth -
3. McLaughlin/de Lucia/di Meola - Friday Night in San-Fransisco
4. Al di Meola - Cielo e Terra
1 - original US pressing; 2 - original UK pressing; 3,4 - original Japanese pressing.
Cielo e Terra sounds excellent on original US, Dutch, German pressings too, just not as good as Japanese. Yes, I tried them all. NOT DMM, regular mastering.
mmporsche- congrats on your new table. (I had responded to your earlier thread about the point of diminishing returns by suggesting that it varies, depending on a lot of factors). So, too, with record recommendations: are you after "sonic porn" just to show off your system?--in that case, a lot of those old direct to disc records sound impressive, but at least to me, the music is "safe" if not banal--the equivalent of sonic wallpaper. Once you are open to adventure- and going beyond the audiophile warhorses, it is almost impossible to catalog the possibilities; much depends on your musical preferences--
and your willingness to explore material unknown to you. For me, some interesting finds (which were new to me, but maybe old news to others):
Crossings- early Herbie Hancock- spiritual jazz-interesting polyrhythms- U.S. pressing on Warner green label is wonderful. If you like this vein, there is a label called Strata-East that has a ton of extremely cool stuff--John Betsch Society-Earth Blossom; Heath Bros- Marchin’ On (especially the "Betty Suite"). The surfaces on these releases aren’t the best and they now fetch real money, but are worth exploring;
Prog Rock- I started to go beyond the usual suspects (ELP, YES, Crimson, etc) in several different directions- some of the Vertigo Swirls are amazing, but so are the prices- a US Swirl of Patto’s first album shouldn’t set you back much; if you are inclined to spend big money, both Cressida albums on Swirl are marvelous, keyboard centric jazzy prog rock. Though I hadn’t heard ELP’s "Pictures" since it was released, the first UK pressing, with a "Porky" inscription, will floor you. (Thanks, Ken Golden). Some of the deeper stuff from Italy and Germany is also fetching big bucks, but there are King Records reissues on the Seven Seas imprint from Japan that are cost effective and pretty good (better surfaces too, though not as vibrant sounding as the original pressings). If you want a taste of Swirls without spending crazy money, buy a UK pressing of the 1970 Vertigo Annual- it was a sampler, two record set with some of the uber cuts for cheap. (Gateway drug warning here- you may start spending money on the individual albums). Ken also turned me onto some of the RCA Neons, which were a continuation of the Vertigo approach on RCA- these get pricey but Indian Summer is not insanely priced as a UK pressing.
Hard Rock- Brian Davison’s every which way- U.S. Mercury- fantastic musically and sonically. He was the drummer for The Nice and the music reminds me of Traffic. Stunning audio- not expensive. Iron Maiden- The Number of the Beast- yeah, metal, but look for the Wally T. mastering on both sides- pretty spectacular if you like this stuff. Lucifer’s Friend- s/t- now considered "proto-metal" it is a Sabbath-y Zeppish record with Deep Purple-y organ fills and Heep style vocals (John Layton later sang for the Heep). The "one" is a German first press on Philips. Cool record. Dumb and obvious, but worth revisiting- Alice Cooper’s Love it to Death- but you have to find the early Straight label copies, before relabelled on Warner green. The difficulty here is condition. This is one of the great hard rock guitar albums, putting aside the whole schtick (which I thought was juvenile at the time - killer recording and some deranged playing).
Psych-Folk- The best known Fairport album Liege and Lief on UK Island pink label. Condition is key because there are a lot of soft passages- The two preceding releases--What We Did and Unhalfbricking are also worth the price of admission, which may be steep for the first pressings, but you can cheat. John Martyn- Solid Air- killer- also on Island; Roy Harper’s Stormcock- early UK Harvest- Jimmy Page plays guitar on at least one track- this album is a moody, dynamic and an extremely involving listen.
Gnu-ish stuff- I never thought I liked new "metal" but Opeth’s ’Damnation" re-released as a twofer with Deliverance is gorgeous- Damnation was remixed by Steve Wilson. This is natural voiced, less crunchy stuff and was my gateway into the band. Trixie Whitley- "I’d Rather go Blind" single EP from Belgium- not the one with multiple tracks-cut at 45 rpm, fantastic record, which leads you to Black Dub, and also to her late father, Chris Whitley- original pressings of Living with the Law, and Dirt Floor are worth seeking out. (The latter was only pressed by Classic Records, and one of the true obscurities on that reissue label--hard to find, but worth it just for the title song, recorded on a two track in a Vermont barn- a man and a guitar).
So many great records to explore- from standard issues- many of the Warner green labels from the era have both great music and great sonics. Usually cheap, too, in the States.
Welcome to the adventure of exploring "unknown to you" records- this is where the fun is ( and is hugely rewarding when you find something that ’clicks’). Any list is just skimming the surface here.
I noticed the artists you're listening to; they are superb vocalists, and at the same time, I'm recording those artists on my Technics reel to reel, plus I'm breaking in my new Grado Master cartridge.
"Grado" is the poor man's Koetsu, and that's exactly what it is. I've heard Koetsu many times; when an acquaintance put Carmen McRae on, she came into the room through his Koetsu, that's just how fantastic it is.
You mentioned a source for records; I was just perusing the latest "Music Direct" catalogue and I noticed it has records of all the artists you mentioned: Sinatra, Nina Simone and Ella. It also has some of the records that others recommended. Since I'm the kind of guy who puts the music first, I can't help you on special records, but maybe some of those in the "Music Direct" catalogue will qualify.
Enjoy the music.
mm- no one source. Discogs is a decent starting place, but grading and pricing is all over the lot. For stuff like Warner green labels, many can be found in bins in used record stores all over the U.S. The Steve Hoffman forum is a good place to get a handle on some better known pressings of "classic rock"- just run a web search for "best vinyl pressing of X" (where X= band or artist or album title) and you'll probably wind up in one of the Hoffman threads. (Don't take anything on faith, but the better informed threads usually involve comparisons of different pressings, and rarely conclude that there is "one" best). I've gotten records from all over the world, and do rely on a few established dealers, but like many people buying used records, I also bid in on line auctions. You need to do your due diligence on pressings- some of the descriptions are not always accurate, and as I already mentioned, I tend to take grading with a grain of salt. (Visual grading tells you the record looks good, that's pretty much it-aside from play grading, which is also subjective, ask about warps). Part of the fun is the discovery, the research and the chase, rather than one stop shopping.
mmporsche---Welcome to the wonderful world of LP's! They often provide a completely different musical experience than a CD, or any other digital format. As his postings here testify to, Bill Hart (whart) is one of Audiogon's most valuable sources of musical recommendations in regard to both music and the sound quality of it's recording, particularly as available on LP.
Having already gone through the journey you are now embarking on, allow me to suggest that you focus on the music first, with superior sound quality, when available, as a welcome bonus. The sound quality of direct-to-disc LP's (recordings made directly onto an LP "mother", bypassing an electronic recorder of any kind) are uniformly far superior sonically to that of LP's containing a recording made via any electronic recorder. However, the music found on D2D albums, while sounding startling "alive", is, generally speaking, of little musical interest or value. D2D LP's are a valuable tool for ascertaining the quality of hi-fi components, but generally contain of little of musical interest.
Of the LP's notable for containing great music and great sound, Cat Stevens "Tea For The Tillerman" ranks among the very best. A really, really great recoding of music a lot of people like (particularly girls, I have discovered ;-). For details of the album's various pressings, see Michael Fremer's coverage of the album in both Stereophile and his own website. In fact, Fremer's writings should be your number one source for all things LP related.
"Song Cycle" by Van Dyke Parks (Brian Wilson's lyricist collaborator in 1966-7) is a remarkable album of music and lyrics by a very eccentric and brilliant guy. "Donovan's Colors" from the album was a cut included an LP that JBL put out in the early 70's, specifically to use as a loudspeaker evaluation tool. The harpsichord contained in the song is a brutal test of loudspeaker capabilities.
"Me & Bobby McKee" on Gordon Lightfoot's If You Can Read My Mind album is a great recording, not only in sound quality, but in terms of the song's performance by Gordon. I was present when the song was played for Bill Johnson of ARC by Walter Davies in 1972, at Walter's new Livermore California hi-fi shop. Walter is now the man behind the LAST line of LP care products, but in 1972 had just opened Audio Arts. On the day I first visited the shop, Bill was installing a complete ARC system. Walter played the song, and Bill was impressed enough with the sound to say "That is a great recording, what is it?". Walter gave him the LP, and I got myself one. Still have it!
Thank you all for the continued excellent advice on music. I just ordered up another 6 or so albums last night.
While I have 1000+ CDs I haven’t listened to 5 of them since I stood my system up a few months ago. My OPPO 105D just sits there waiting. I am really enjoying digging through my father’s albums and discovering little hidden gems; lots of good stuff. Some sound great and others not so much. Much of this is due to the fact they were used in a Denver radio station. I run each one through my KL Audio prior to playing and clean my needle each side but still get a lot of noise (pops, etc.). I am hopeful my much nicer new table will help to lessen some of this but unsure.
Try Steven Wilson, he's a bit like pink Floyd on steroids. Get his albums "the raven that refused to sing" and Hand.Cannot.Erase. The track Drive Home has one of the best guitar solos in all of rock. Hand Cannot Erase the whole album is stellar. Both are double albums. The track Regret #9 from Hand has another solo that is hard to beat.
If if you end up liking Steven Wilson, then try Porcupine Tree, his band before he went solo.
Steve Wilson = genius. Multi-instrumental, mixes, produces, remixes famous classic prog, cool sounds, constantly cranking out stuff, different collaborations, including that Israeli rock musician, his stuff with Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. Guy can do it all. His remixes of Tull's Benefit and Aqualung were great, and dirt cheap on vinyl.
Try an try an early seventies album by Ace called AN ACE ALBUM...nice English pub rock recorded well and includes the original radio hit version of "How Long" sung by Paul Carrack at 22 years old...if you like harder edge stuff, a hard to find but really well recorded rock album with good dynamics and cool songs is Twin Barrells Burning by Wishbone Ash...A left field album that sounds phenomenal and is a great demo record is Weapons of Love by The Truth...the title track is an exercise in taste and dynamics and will give your rig a workout....Winton Marsalis has a great hard to find LP of 50’s style 4 piece jazz called Black Codes From The Underground that sounds like a clinic on recording the natural sound of a 4 piece drum kit...you can literally hear the sound of the wood on the drum rolls....I have engineered front of house live sound for years and this recording gets it right...obviously recorded with a minimal microphone count and each of the few mics perfectly placed...and if you get a chance check out CPR ( Crosby Pevar Raymond) a sonic spectacular and anything by Ray Montford...all of this stuff will have your guests asking you what they are..
@bdp24 very kind of you--I'm a piker compared to some collectors or musicologists, but retiring has given me the time to really dig down. You're no slouch either.
@goldeneraguy So nice to see you post. Always enjoy seeing you here- bringing a little humanity to the sterile environment of the Internet.
(I've often found that people are different than you expect when you meet them in person compared to their Internet persona--usually to my pleasant surprise). Carry on!
I found the EMI issue of Long John Baldry's eponymous album to be very well mastered. I also have a white label copy of Robert Palmer's Clues that is amazing, even though some of the tracks are not my taste.
Both the 10,000 Maniacs LPs I have are very, very good, as are all my Joni Mitchells. The Band - Music from Big Pink and Led Zep IV are my favorites from MoFi. Bill Withers' greatest hits on Columbia FC37199 is another.
Did MoFi do Zep IV? Sure you don't mean Zep II? Are you speaking of the NEW MFSL Big Pink, or older MFSL version of the same? I like Cowboy Junkines: Trinity Sessions (Classic 45rpm), and a friend just brought over Trinity Revisited, also excellent. I like the Nick Drake: Pink Moon new remaster. So many standard pressings are great, some of which Whart mentioned. My Warner Green GD: American Beauty sounds wonderful.
Agree on Joni Mitchell, especially Hejira.
@fundsgon - even the old standard issue Warner of RLJ’s debut is pretty fab. (I don’t know how many different pressings of this record I have). Girl at Her Volcano, the EP, is pretty wonderful too (the digital aspect of this recording is not a negative even though early days)- what always puzzled me was how good Girl is, and how nasty sounding Pirates was--there the MoFi LP is definitely an improvement.
Loved her back in the day- saw her in the early years, the dark years, and when she busted her chains, at Radio City or the Carnegie (somehow, I think it was the latter). Haven’t heard her live in years- the production team and players for that debut are as good as it gets.
Lots of good advise above. Wilco's latest is very well recorded, as are most of theirs. If you like that you may want to try Yankee Foxtrot from them as well. Jeff Tweety's solo album is also very good. Grateful Dead's Reckoning album is good, as is american beauty & workingman's dead. I have the original pressings of them. Traffic's low spark of high healed boys is recorded well. I'm not sure what pressing I have, but have had it since the 80's. Tom Waits earlier albums (prior to the last 2) were recorded well. Clem Snide's hungry bird (original pressing) is good. David Bowie's hunky dory album (bought it in the early 80's) is another good one. Bardo Pond's "Dilate" (original pressing) is an album full of fuzzy guitars with some acoustic ones thrown in for good measure, is very interesting music that's recorded well. That's it for now. There are really soooo many... Enjoy!