Underrated album: Sonics AND Music


Listening to this CD this evening it struck me that this might be the most underrated CD I have, from both a sonics and music point of view. I bet everyone has a go-to album that needs more respect.  Mine: Rosanne Cash— Rules of Travel. 
tomaswv
Easy one...Clark Terry "Portraits".  For those of you aware of it, you already know, but if you haven't had the pleasure, it is a musical and sonic treasure. This combo jazz release is the most open recording I own in any musical genre on any media.  I know that is quite a statement.  The Chesky SACD is a must have.  With no engineering trickery the music genuinely images beyond the width of the speakers.  🎼
Mine is Crowded House "Together Alone." I don't think that Crowded House gets the respect they deserve. Neil Finn, the main guy in the band, just joined Fleetwood Mac, but I think they should be backing him up. 
Henry Gross - Plug Me Into Something comes to mind. 

Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks, a name perhaps not unfamiliar to you due to his collaboration with Brian Wilson on the ill-fated Smile album. Song Cycle was Van’s first album, and it is, I guarantee you, unlike anything you have ever heard. It’s not Rock, nor even Pop, but a densely-orchestrated, utterly-unique group of songs. Van was hired by Brian due to his abilities at lyric writing, and Song Cycle is filled with puns and other forms of word play, very clever and amusing. One song ends, the next beginning with the lyrics "That’s a tape...that we made...and I’m sad to say it never made the grade".

All the songs on the album were written by Van (including "Van Dyke Parks", writing credited to Public Domain :-), save for two. He included a song by a writer who had not yet recorded his own first album---Randy Newman. The song is "Vine Street" (which is also on Randy’s later debut album), performed in an impressionistic, almost surreal, style. Also on the album is Donovan’s "Colors", performed on harpsichord with orchestral accompaniment. The song was included on JBL’s demonstration LP of the 1970’s, and was used by audio shops to sell speakers.

Steely Dan "Two Against Nature". I don't think there was a single single from this album.I'm pretty sure it got no radio play. And while none of the songs rise to the popular level of their other hits, from a sonic, SQ, production quality standpoint it is the best CD I have.....though my CD library is small.
I have 2 albums that I love, that were not very popular or well know, but sound fantastic and contain excellent music in their genre. Here you go:

dada - "Puzzle" - an excellent pop/rock album with great pop/rock songs, excellent musicianship and great sound quality. One of my top 10 favorites for both music and sound quality.

Supertramp - "Brother Where You Bound" - IMHO, Supertramp's best by a good margin. Very cohesive album with great songs, great musicianship and fantastic sound quality. Plays almost like an epic theme album (although I don't think it is). One of my top 10 favorites for both music and sound quality.
Santana - Caravanserai
Tasmin Archer, Great Expectations. I love all of the songs, but the production and sonics are great too. Layers of things going on in every song.
Fran Healy "Wreckorder" ……  superbly crafted pop!
Great thread. Keep them coming.
There are many. I own a few that would be hard to classify as my favorite. One that is not well known is Stuff. That is the name of their first, I believe, album. They didn't make many. They were a conglomeration of excellent musicians like drummer Steve Gadd. I don't believe they toured as a band but they were one of the first groups to play music on the Saturday Night Live TV show many years ago as the house band. The album "Stuff" is purely instrumental. A real hidden gem.

For sonics, atmospherics and some pretty good tunes, the soundtrack for To Live and Die In LA by Wang Chung on vinyl. 
For those that like but are tired of hearing Nils Lofgren ‘Keith Don’t Go’, check out Graham Parker Live, Alone In America. 
Suzanne Vega—- Solitude Standing
+1 Any and all Suzanne Vega
Ry Cooder's soundtrack for the Paris, Texas film. As always from Ry, great music. As for sound, the LP has been on Harry Pearson's Super Disc list since it's inception.
All on vinyl
Acoustic Alchemy - Red Dust & Spanish Lace
Aimee Mann - Mental Illness
Beck - Morning Phase
Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth (side 1)
just about anything on ECM label
Zero 7 - When It Falls, Simple Things

Steely Dan "Two Against Nature"
+1 .. fantastic record. While it wasn't their most popular it did win 4 Grammy's including Album of the Year and Best Engineered Recording (non-classical). It's also been certified platinum. 
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Walk around your workplace and find someone who can name a song from "Two Against Nature" or even the album for that matter, spin the radio dial all day long and see if you hear a song from the album, ask any earbud wearing millenial if they've ever even heard of Steely Dan.

So yes, audiophiles know about it. SD fans know about it. But that's about it.

And while I agree with the Best Engineered Grammy since it is one of the best engineered CDs I've heard....that isn't exactly a big deal for anyone but the engineers....and Becker/Fagen.

wtf, underrated is another one of those very open descriptors. In a broad sense when I think about underrated I mean among the general public. That will mean a very different thing among knowledgeable audiophiles....which is probably what the OP intended....so my bad.
Good points by both jaybe and n80. I nominated Cooder's Paris, Texas soundtrack because Ry is rarely mentioned here on Audiogon, and then usually in regard to only his own albums, not his soundtrack work, which he has done a lot of. Maybe not under-rated, but under-acknowledged.
@n80 .. you make some very good points. I doubt very much that Steely Dan is on the millennial radar. I'm sure the same would hold true with most of the music I'm interested in and vice-versa. Different generations with different tastes and exposure. While Steely Dan isn't exactly relevant to that generation or perhaps even the general public any longer, they have legions of fans and not just audiophiles. I was only pointing out Two Against Nature wasn't underrated, it garnered several awards (2 of which were in pop categories in fact). Not trying to argue with you and apologize if it seems I am. It's not my intent.
Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl (CD) if you want to see how your systems highs hold up. Roy can sure hold a note. ‘She’s A Mystery To Me’ is where tweeters find out if they measure up. 
@reubent ,
I love you dude but I'll have to say, I use to hear a couple of the songs off of "Brother Where You Bound" on the radio, down here where I live, back in the 90's.

This brings me to present Roger Hodgson "In The Eye of the Storm".

( Oddly enough, I played "Two Against Nature" a few weeks ago. SQ=EX!)
@slaw - I don't recall ever hearing a cut off of "Brother Where You Bound" on any pop radio station. Maybe on a deep cut album rock station. Regardless, I rarely ever hear "Brother Where You Bound" mentioned, and certainly not as much as "Breakfast in America" (which I did not like), "Even in the Quietest Moment" or "Crime of the Century". I think it was WAY underrated. For me, it's their best and doesn't get the critical acclaim it deserves. It also has excellent sound quality.

Curious, do you have it on vinyl? Have you hear the U.K 12" Direct to Disk single of "Brother Where You Bound"? It's really good......

BTW, I have Roger Hodgson's "Eye of the Storm". I heard "Had a Dream" on the radio when it was originally released and immediately bought it. Not a bad record, but I don't love Hodgson's voice. That's part of the reason why I love "Brother Where You Bound" which is Supertramp sans Hodgson.

Happy weekend!
@reubent ,

I think I have all of Supertramp’s output, mine is on vinyl.
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Up next..
Aretha's Gold   MFSL 45 rpm
wtf, no problem at all. Its all about hearing different opinions and different ways of looking at stuff. Point-counter point is a great way to clarify things. Its all good.

And in all honesty, I wasn't aware of Two Against Nature until about a month ago. ;-)
Just listened to Genesis - ...And Then There Were Three

Haven't played it in years.  Liked it 40 years ago.  Liked it very much tonight.  Of course, the radio only played the "Follow You, Follow Me" single which is pretty much drivel by comparison to the rest of the album.  Tony Banks genius is apparent throughout.  
Jim Lauderdale's "Wait Til Spring", backed by the group Donna The Buffalo is very enjoyable, and Donna The Buffalo's "Rockin' In the Weary Land" is also a treat. Both are sonically very good.
Best music/recording I've ever heard seems to have no name. It just says Norman Blake, Tut Taylor, Sam Bush, Butch Robbins, Vassar Clements, David Holland, Jethro Burns.
Then, at the bottom- HDS 701
Distributed by Flying Fish Records, 1975 
Patty Larkin "Perishable Fruit, Tango, Angels Running". I have these 3 and they all sound very good.
I love Patty L. I had the good fortune to hear her live some 10 years ago in my friends home on his 50th birthday. I have A GoGo, Red Luck and Live in the Square; not a clunker among them
Rumble Doll by Patti Scialfa, her debut album. Produced by Mike Campbell and Springsteen, good songs, stellar musicians (on drums Keltner, Porcaro, and Aronoff!), and Patti’s singing is really, really good. While Bruce’s albums sound terrible, this one sounds (iirc ;-) pretty damn good, perhaps because Mark Linett and Bob Clearmountain are involved.
The Youngbloods - Elephant Mountain 

Not very well known but excellent none the less.
Iron Maiden -Fear of the Dark
Motley Crue - Dr Feelgood
Greg Kihn Band - Kihnspiracy
John Klemmer - Touch
Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien
Janice Ian - Breaking Silence
Mount Moriah  "S/T"
https://forum.audiogon.com/users/ghosthouse

ATTWT by GENESIS is a wonderful record, a stylish mixture of old grand schemes and pop ballads. There is the pastoral beauty with poetic landscapes alongside simpler rock approach, this album has always sounded BIG as if there was an orchestra behind the mix, even with lesser equipment (back in the day I had a Dux stereo system). The album today sounds better than ever and hasn´t aged a bit but sadly remains their last great album and the last truly great concept rock albums from the incredibly versatile and musically rich 1970s...

Alongside, and coincidentally is also Yes´s last true great progressive album Tormato in the very same year 1978, just before that wonderful music decade suddenly became a fading memory. Both Banks and Wakeman shine there, because they always did their style and coudn´t care less what others did or thought about. It was the era of the Giants.
Yello - Touch Yello: Classical inspired German electronica with just beautiful production quality. The band never even performed live until 2016 (starting from 1979), so the full art is the album production.

https://www.discogs.com/Yello-Touch-Yello-The-Virtual-Concert/master/187821

Thanks for the thread.
2cd edition of Stevie wonders musiquarium.  

 The sound is perfect, it is mastered flawless, no matter the volume, the bass is right, mids and highs are there without being too bright.

opened my windows one night with my friend (Asit)
he walked up to a hill about 1/4 mile away from my house, just in front of my Uncle Mels’s house at top of a hill just east of my house.

 He said it was loud and clear, he is not a BS’er at all.

rotel 1090 amp, cerwin Vega D-9 pair, 
that was an amazing amp, I miss her, good of of clean power. 

One day day I pushed power button and bright white light and a small puff of smoke,...l.l.the inrush limiter failed.
i moved on.....l.l.
still miss that amp.
she was a powerhouse in 3.5-4Ohm.

love the musiquatium 2cd set, mastered great!!,
not mnay sound as good as that one.


Second - Clark Terry and To Live and Die in L.A. soundtrack.
Add - The Lost Boys soundtrack and Jamie Cullum Twentysomething (my reference CD/SACD).

Happy Listening!
@harold-not-the-barrel

Just saw your comments about Genesis’ ATTWT. Have to agree with you (sadly), "...their last great album." There are moments on subsequent releases (e.g., Duke) but nothing sustained.

I have spent NO time with Tormato though I love Yes.  With the exception of Big Generator, pretty much nothing after Tales From Topographic Oceans.  
...well on further reflection, I'd call ATTWT "great" in comparison to the recordings that came after, but compared to those that preceded it, only very good.  At least IMNotSoHO  :-)
Alice Cooper "Goes to Hell"  
Janis Ian "Between the Lines"

Terry Evans: any of his albums on Audioquest. Also his two albums with partner Bobby King on Rounder Records, a non-audiophile label with many audiophile-sound quality albums in it's catalog. Terry and Bobby served as Ry Cooder's "back up" singers for years, and are both fantastic.

Speaking of Ry, his sideman guitarist (lap steel, mostly) David Lindley's first two albums are very cool, and feature great sound. I have used a 12" 45 of "Mercury Blues" I own as demo material for years.