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. 🎼
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ingenue by kd Lang. The new anniversary remaster in hd is stunning. The kd and Ben Mink team are totally underrated.
John Mayer Continum’s hi res sonics blew me away the other day too.
Los Libos Kiko is also an underrated masterpiece. Michell Froom goes outside the box sonically and goes into those nooks and crannies and delivered an album that is anything but ordinary. Sick of the same ol pop/rock songs? Take this one for a spin... Los Lobos sadly got tagged as a cheesy La Bamba cover band. This album demonstrates they are not... instead, a world class ensemble worthy of the best an audiophile can expect. Completely underrated is truly an understatement here.
My gear: Emm Labs transport-converters-pre/Genelec/Primaluna/B&W etc.
Great thread! I'm glad I stumbled on to it. I look forward to checking out all these suggestions. I've gotten to the point that I stream Tidal about 95% of the time but hopefully, the SQ from the production\engineering will show through streaming these. One of my favorite albums that is CD quality on Tidal but just sounds great on my system is the Blue Coast Collection: The E.S.E. Sessions - Various artists. Love The Dog Song!
I don't care about sonics.
Not sure if you can call a well-known band like Golden Earring under-rated.
Its just that I only recently heard "To The Hilt" album. (For decades I was under the impression that all their lps after "Moontan" were sub-par.)
Fabulous rhythm guitar throughout. Longer tracks. And the addition of Jan Stipps (Supersister) makes this their only prog-tinged lp.
Probably my discovery of the year - and its a bleeding common lp!