Your Go to CD to Impress

Friends come over and inquire why you would spend so much money on a stereo system, what is the CD you load up? For me,

Patricia Barber  ---Café Blue

Dead Can Dance-Into the Labyrinth

Taj Mahal's cover of Honky Tonk Woman 
Bob Dylan The Man in the Long Black Coat
Eva Cassidy Stormy Monday
Keb Mo Soon as I get Paid
Dirty Dozen Brass Band Don't you feel my leg

Just to get there attention I'll play John Lee Hookers The Healer or Branford Marales Trio Jeepy.


Many times you can't educate unless you impress, like football Xs and Os mean little if you can't score a TD, just a thought, your CD of choice my friend?

Bonnie Raitt Nick of time
Chicago Transit Authority/ first album
Bethoveen 9 th/Von Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic orchestra 
Dead Can Dance "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun", but recently (well, since Lisa Gerrard moved into "mainstream" thanks to Gladiator movie) it is "Khmer" by Nils Petter Molvaer. 
Dvorak, "Symphony No. 9" (the "New World Symphony"), Jascha Horenstein conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Chesky CD31.  Recorded in 1962!

Chopin, "Piano Sonata No. 3, Opus 58," Hyperion Knight, pianist, Wilson Audio WCD-9129.

Both are out of print but probably findable.

-- Al
I once made a mix CD for my wife which turned out to have some great tracks for auditioning speakers.  Some of the better ones:

Sweet Dreams--Patsy Cline (amazing arrangement/production)
Here in the Dark--Taj Mahal
Save the Last Dance for Me--Aaron Neville
I Dream of Jeannie/Danny Boy--Joan Baez (great one for voice repro)

  Dire Straits Communique  is a good one.
  The Eagles Hotel  California
   Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
Depends entirely on the genre of music that appeals to the skeptic / news listener.

if it's pop or classic rock then it's Dire Straits -- Brothers in Arms -- BUT especially the XRCD pressing. 

If I can't get a specific song, artist or genre, I like to ask whether they want to hear something they may of heard before or something that they've probably never heard before. Surprise me could get you the Kamikaze Ground Crew, Danny Gatton, or maybe the Amazos. 
All- excellent suggestions- add;
Jamie Cullum- Twentysomething (2004) Verve (CD or SACD)
Stone Temple Pilots- Core (CD or DVD-Audio)
Nirvana- Unplugged, Live in NY (CD)
Pearl Jam- Ten  (CD)
Real good tread for sharing new high quality recordings. Thanks Styxtrekr.
I will go with The Ancient Muse by Loreena McKennitt, and Solar Echoes by Nigel Stanford.
If the recording is engineered very poorly, regardless of the content I'm always left with the feeling I wasted my time.
Usually, one's musical taste tends to be rather selective and/or esoteric when it comes to something impressive since it tends to serve YOUR tastes.

What I do to demonstrate is to try something dynamic that is also familiar which is usually the soundtrack to Breaking Bad. It grabs their attention immediately since it's so recognizable and allows them to wallow in it's majesty and intricacies. After that, it's pretty much up to you to show them how it handles different styles of music. Then you can break out that piece that makes their eyes glaze over.

If it is a real audiophile, I'll put on Sotho Blue for starters.

All the best,

As I've listened over the years to my CDs I've noted specific tracks along the way which sound spectacular on my system (some CDs, though have terrific music, have zero impressive tracks). Thus, my visitor can select any genre or performer and I am able to cherry pick specific tracks which are especially good sounding. For example:
Female jazz singer? Karrin Allyson, "Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane", any tracks 2,5,6,9.
Male jazz singer? Mark Murphy, "Once to Every Heart", track 5.
Jazz? Rahsaan Roland Kirk, "Inflated Tear", track 2.
Rock? Alice Cooper, "Love it to Death" (Audio Fidelity Gold), track 1.
Blues? Albert King, "Live Wire/Blues Power" (MFSL Gold), track 4.
Pop? Jenny Lewis, "Acid Tongue", tracks 3,4.
Nils Lofgren: Acoustic LIVE, Mannheim Steamroller: Fresh Aire 7, Pink Floyd: DSoTM.
Shirley Horn: You Won’t Forget Me Track 11
SRV: Tin Pan Alley from "Couldn’t Stand the Weather" (vinyl or SACD)
Jack Johnson: Brushfire Fairytales Track 1
Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Session Track 5, 10, and 12
Dire Straits: Fade to Black and You and Your Friends from "On Every Street" (vinyl or SHM CD)
Chet Baker: Silent Nights (Christmas)


  your CD of choice my friend?

You asked what I'd play for friends in your topic and I still stick by "what they want to hear". My go to music, for my own enjoyment, would have to be any of my Steely Dan or Dire Straits SHM-SACD's.
@nonoise,tpreaves : Yours is the Best answer! Its only when my guests hear "their" tunes thru my stereo that they start paying attention. Me playing them Dead Can Dance usually resulted in a polite comment to the effect that I am one creepy dude ;-(
Well, "What are you in the mood to listen to?"
I think these sound good on my system:
Antoine Dufour "Mother" from "Existence"
Allman Bros. "High Falls" from "Win, Lose, or Draw"
Lucky Dube "Guns and Roses" from "Taxman"
Rickie Lee Jones "Weasel and the White Boys Cool" from "Live at Red Rocks"
Charles Brown "Quicksand"
Dixie Dregs "I'm Freaking Out" from "Dregs of the Earth"
Roxy Music "If There is Something/Mother of Pearl" from Roxy Music Live
There are many more depending on the genre, acoustic or electric, etc. but these are some if my favorites. Guests tend to appreciate the nuances of a good system with the music they are most familiar with.
sara k. - 1) Hell or High Water
              2) Made in the Shade.

          Hybrid sacd's on Stockfisch Records.
Friends come over and inquire why you would spend so much money on a stereo system, what is the CD you load up?

I ask them to bring in a favorite cd from their car.  

If you want a sonic spectacular, try one of the last three of the Moody Blues’ core seven on SACD. Huge soundstages, a constantly changing soundscape with lots of effects, great guitar riffs, wide dynamic range. The 1997 remasters may be as good, but I haven’t heard them.

I don’t want to start a fight, but these albums were all made at least a year before Pink Floyd’s DSOTM and IMHO, they leave that classic in the dust as far as sound quality and use of studio technology go. You may disagree, of course.

Also McCartney’s recent reissues in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection qualify as sonic spectaculars. They have great sound, a complex, always changing soundscape with lots of effects and musical accents. Just pick your favorite.

In a different genre, If you like music rooted in bluegrass but with many other influences, check out Laurie Lewis’ "Blossoms." It opens with a beautiful 3 part acapella tune that’s pretty impressive. If you like bluegrass at all you should check out Laurie’s "Earth and Sky" compilation. Beautiful music.

Nice! tomcy6

I want those (7) Moody Blues discs.  I do enjoy 'Days of future Passed".
It is a reference disc in any format.
If its a guest who knows nothing about audio, I always ask them what kind of music they enjoy. If they answer: "Oh, just about anything," I just quietly turn the system off and say ... hey, why don't we go to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone?" 
When I play my system, or my violin for anyone, I select a piece that they know and already enjoy.  To understand something new in music and to evaluate a stereo system is just too much for most to handle.
"If they answer: "Oh, just about anything," I just quietly turn the system off and say ... hey, why don’t we go to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone?"

Perfect, oregonpapa. Another tell is if, within 30 seconds or less after the music starts, they begin visually searching for something to look at (a CD case/LP cover, or the completely unforgivable, their phone) instead of listening.
I had a bunch of 20 - 25 years old over. They like modern country music so we played some top 25.

They liked it a lot so I said how about this - folk not country but close enough.  

Alison Krauss - A Hundred Miles or More of a Collection from 2007.

Many of the above are favorites.  Another to check out is on the NAIM label - Antonio Forcione - Ghetto Paradise.  Amazing guitarist.
James Taylor Gaya
Holly Cole Tennessee Waltz
Dire Straits Brothers in Arms
Blood Sweat and Tears Lonesome Suzy
Mighty Sam McClain Too Proud
Charles Lloyd The Water is Wide
Charlie Haden and Pat Metheney Behond the Missouri Sky
Dave Grusin Two for the Road

Call me different
I go for stuff that has unusual musicality and is downtempo
BY BAND NAME - Album Name

AIR = 10,000 Hz album for near rockers
ALL INDIA RADIO - The Silent Surf - low key
BLISS - my favorite female voice
BALMORHEA - Self Titled, mellow
BANCO DE GAIA = Last Train to Lhasa - Trains to Music on this one track
BROKENKITES = Fugue State, deep and demanding
EMANCIPATOR - Safe in the Steep Cliffs, articulate composition
KATIE MELUA - yet another notable voice
LINDSEY STERLING - Shatter Me = killer modern violin

Let me know if anyone listens to these and I will rattle out the rest  of the alphabet of my music.

Tracy Nelson-Live From C Block D, is one of my favorite demos, especially for newbies to my listening room.  Kind of a mixture of folk, country rock, and one of the most powerful female vocalists around.  Originally part of Mother Earth, her live stuff is mesmerizing.  No one seems to know about her, but having seen Mother Earth live in the late 60's/early 70's got me hooked on her vocal talents.
*Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Rain Coat
*Dianne Krall - Love Scenes
*The Harry James Sessions
*Lyle Lovett - I Love Everybody 
*Larry McNeeley - Confederation
*Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
*Mozart Variations (Windam Hill)
*Stevie Ray Vaughn - Tin Pan Alley
If you know the person well, if not ask what styles/artists they like. Then find something suitable. You won't impress very well if they don't like what you played. 
CD: All Jamaican All Star Jazz Band, especially the covers of  (this is not a joke.) "My Boy Lollopop" and "Walk On By"; alternately for real jazz buffs, Maynard Ferguson and Diane Shur "Live From Montreaux".                                   LP: Rosie O'Grady's Good Time Jazz Band on Direct Disc. The tuba solo on "When You're Smiling" is to die for. The triangle, followed by a full dixieland band on "Japanese Sandman" places the instruments in you face, well actually , ears.                                               Once they are awed, we get back to what they want to hear.
I don't put any CDs on - I spin some well executed vinyl if I want really good sound.
I have to agree - CD's are cool when we are playing pool, but to impress - VINYL  RULES!
I use CDs and make them sound like vinyl by adding snap, crackle, and pop
Bela Fleck - Flight of the Cosmic Hippo
Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem
Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go
Patrica Barber - Use Me
Eva Cassidy - Live at Blues Alley - the entire album 
Harry Belafonte - Live at Carnegie Hall - the entire album 

Patricia Barber- Companion XRCD ... a stunningly good recording and Shakti's first album -- with John McLaughlin... a spectacular album with Zakir Hussein on tablas... transcendental! I was privileged to see them live in 1977 and I'll never forget it!
DSOTM in SACD 5.1 is like hearing it for the first time!