Willie Nelson's Stardust album is one of my reference recordings. This is a nice collection of classic standards, recorded when he could still sing.
It has minimal instrument background and Willie's voice is RIGHT THERE. If your system images well, even non-audiophiles sit up and typically say wow, that's clear. I'm not into country, but everybody likes Willie.
As an ex-radio engineer, my vinyl collection genre is all over the place , but I will add in :
Reflex - "The Politics of Dancing" - A well cut album with exceptional listenability ! A true joy.
Creation - ( A Toshiba-EMI Pro Series ) Direct Disk - An exceptional homage to rock . Unbelievable sonic purity due to recording direct to the disk with no tape involved.
Sugar Loaf Express ( w/ Lee Ritenour ) JVC Direct Disk - Another example of sonic amazement unfettered by tape. Just pure, clear, music as it was intended to be enjoyed.
I have many more, but these are my version of audiophile magic to listen to.
There is a mofi recording of the 1812 Overture with the LSO/Previn. When the canons go off towards the end you can feel them.
These come to mind quickly.
They're in my section of reference LPs which I go to when I want to hear (or show off) what my system is capable of....
Beatles - Love Apple 0946 379 808 11
Janis Ian - Breaking Silence Analog Productions APP 027
Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest Acony ACNY-1109LP
Phoebe Snow - Phoebe Snow Analogue Productions APP-2109-45
Duke Ellington - Masterpieces Analogue Productions APJ 4418
Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones MOFI MFSL 2-45010 (Box Set)
Neil Young - Massey Hall 1971 Reprise 43328-1
Blake Mills - Heigh Ho Record Collection B0021196-01
Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas Columbia 88697986711
Paul Simon - Still Crazy After All These Years Columbia (2013) PC 33540
Ten Years After - A Space In Time Audio Fidelity AFZLP 112
Duke Ellington - Jazz Part in Stereo Classic Records CS8127 or
Original Recordings Group ORG 131
Ella Fitzgerald - Let No Man Write My Epitaph Analogue Prod AP-4043
Johnny Hodges with the Billy Strayhorn Orchestra Analogue Prod AP-8452
+1 on the Graceland reissue
All of these make me say "Wow!"
There are others, and I haven't even touched classical.
Replacements' Pleased To Meet Me; the song "Alex Chilton" gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
And I am glad someone mentioned Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' The Harrow and the Harvest. It does not have goosebump inducing effects on me, but it is one of the best recorded good-music efforts I have run across.
@yc25, great list! Have you heard any of Buddy Miller’s albums? He plays guitar/sings harmony/leads Emmylou’s road band. Great singer, in the same league as John Hiatt, though not a songwriter of John’s caliber. Few are! Also a great producer (Richard Thompson, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Allison Moorer, Patty Griffin, Solomon Burke, Ralph Stanley, Robert Plant, a bunch of others).
I have many of the albums mentioned here and agree, if original, well cared for, and clean, they can sound very good, even exceptional. That said, if you want to take it up a notch, for pure ‘are you kidding me?’ listening pleasure, nothing I’ve heard sounds like mint jazz recordings on original Verve labels. Even if you don’t prefer jazz, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Blossom Deary, Bill Evans, Charlie Byrd, et al, on a nice vinyl rig are worth a listen. 1950’s, 1960’s, even some 1970’s Japanese represses sound phenomenal. What really separates them from other fine recordings is 1) the clarity and detail, 2) the soundstage - 3 D holographic ‘you are there’ imaging, but more than anything, 3) the explosive dynamics.
Louis & Ella - Two volumes Louis & Ella Again - Analog Productions- Mono 45 rpm reissues of these Verve classics...
Like they are in the room with you....
I think it would be more productive if we’d add the LPs we feel are substandard in sonics. Because majority of the LPs in my collection are quite good sounding, and if I were to sit down and try to list all the ’wow!’ moments, it will take me many hours and the list would be so long it would be useless.
But if everyone pitches in with some LPs they found less than satisfactory, at least you’ll have a nice list f purchases you should avoid.
What’s that? Me fist? Okay, here are some records in my collection that I find not that satisfactory to listen to (this is not in any way a negative critique of the actual music recorded on those LPs; I’m only referring to the mastering/pressing quality):
1. Big Brother And The Holding Company (great music, harsh and cringe inducing sound)
2. Jethro Tull "Benefit" (great music, awful sound, extremely bass shy)
3. Grand Funk "We’re An American Band" (lots of good songs on there, the production is atrocious with that horrendous ’radio friendly’ midrangey sound that robs the music of all juices)
4. Jimi Hendrix "Band of Gypsys" (phenomenal music, bad and lifeless sound on all the LPs I’ve heard)
5. Jethro Tull "Aqualung" (epic album, unfortunately sounds much better on a remastered CD)
6. Wishbone Ash "Argus" (their best album, the LP sounds wimpy for some reason)
7. Emerson Lake and Palmer "Brain Salad Surgery" (unremarkable sound for such bombastic band; very congested and murky sounding LP; not even close to the brilliance of their first LP)
8. The Beatles "White Album", 2012 reissue pressed from the 2009 digital remaster (flat, murky and dull sounding pressing of the most phenomenal album; such a shame, but any older pressing from analog tapes destroys the 2012 remaster -- what were they thinking?)
15 years ago when I was auditioning speakers I burned a CD from digital and vinyl sources with songs that had various important speaker-choosing attributes. Some of the songs:
Boats To Build, Guy Clark, from Boats To Build CD
Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Eva Cassidy from Live At Blues Alley CD
Rock My Soul, Elvin Bishop Group, from Rock My Soul LP
The Song Remembers When, Trisha Yearwood, from The Song Remembers When CD
Song Of The Wind, Santana, from Caravanserai LP
Corner Pocket, Harry James Big Band, from King James, Sheffield Labs direct-to-disc LP
Paz, Tom Harrell, from Wise Children CD
Besame Mucho, Frank and Joe Show with Jane Monheit, from 33 1/3 CD
Hayden's Quartet in G Major, 1st Movement, Emerson Quartet, from String Quartets CD
Mozart's Symphony 40 in G Minor, 4th movement, Chicago Symphony Orchestra James Levine conducting, CD
Some other of my favorite Wow moments on vinyl:
First We Take Manhattan, Jennifer Warnes, from Famous Blue Raincoat
The Nightingale, Jennifer Warnes, from The Well
Sunday At The Village Vangard, Bill Evans
When I Grow Too Old To Dream, Nat King Cole, from After Midnight
Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple, from Extraordinary Machine
A Hangin On, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, from Our Year
"88 Basie Street" Count Basie and Orchestra originally released by Pablo Records. The 45 RPM reissue was a WOW moment for me when a friend brought over a copy to compare with my Japanese JVC XRCD. Unfortunately difficult to find as it was a quite limited release by Analogue Productions. The dynamics and immediacy of this recording is as lifelike as any vinyl recording I am familiar with.
I have a couple of thousand albums on vinyl and I rate each one after listening. There are so many extraordinary recordings, that trying to list the all best ones is like trying to list the best wines. But I have noticed that many of the best are those rare direct-to-disc. I believe that these best exemplify the best qualities of vinyl as a medium. Be prepared, though, to search long and hard to find some of these and then pay dearly when you do ... but if you have the coin, they are worthy! I have also found that in general the remastered pressings from Analogue Productions are superb and often far better than the originals.
Direct to Disc must-haves:
> Bill Berry: For Duke; M&K Realtime RT-101
> Thelma Huston: I've Got the Music in Me; Sheffield Labs LAB-2
> LA 4: Just Friends; Concord Jazz CJD-1001
> Dead Can Dance: Into the Labyrinth; Mobile Fidelity MOFI 2-001
> Donald Fagen: The Night Fly; Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-003
> Ray Brown Trio: Soular Energy; Analogue Productions APJ 268-45
> Herbie Hancock: Future Shock; Columbia FC 38814
I have a list of songs that move me so much that I collect different versions of them. They include:
MORNING DEW - Best version Long John Baldry from his self-titled LP on EMI, started with Jeff Beck, Truth
SUMERTIME - Can't beat Big Brother & The Holding Company. I get what @crazybookman is saying; but the guts of this music certainly outweigh the poor production and I actually like the guitar. Honorable mention - Perry Como, if you can believe it, and of course Audra McDonald.
HEY JOE - Sorry, Jimi. Spirit, Black Cat Bone, and Vasti Jackson get my vote now.
WALK AWAY RENE - no one beats the original Left Banke; but Sothside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes do a nice one.
DOWN BY THE RIVER - I am a huge Neil Young Fan; but yo gotta hear the Indigo Girls' live.
HALLELUJAH (Leonard Cohen, although Martin Sexton's song is AMAZING!) - Jeff Buckley, the Grace SACD.
GO NOW - The first release of the song by Bessie Banks.
I also keep a list of songs I heard once (wow) and had to search for, not knowing the exact title or artist. But that's another thread: