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Best engineered / best sounding album


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Thriller-Michael Jackson-------Bruce Swedien at his best

 

Absolutely agree Marshall... but everyone will have to wait for Bruce's next book to read my comments about that album. He asked me to write a couple of pages about that, and I don't want to give away what I wrote here. :)

 

But yes, the impact that record had was amazing. :phil:

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Wow, great thread - where to start?
:)

Ken, I think you made a typo - I'm sure you meant "Aja".
:)



Ahhh, no, "Aka" was the little-known follow-up, where Fagen and Becker told all the studio musicians to play freaky no-holds-barred free jazz. ;)

Seriously, if you saw the day that I had today, you'd wonder how I managed to type without every word being a typo. Ever have one of those days where literally everything that you do does not work or requires 18 additional steps to do something that should take five minutes?

Well, damn, I went to Islands and got chili cheese fries and a Maui burger and some pina colada just to chill out. I feel better now.

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Well, damn, I went to Islands and got chili cheese fries and a Maui burger and some pina colada just to chill out. I feel better now.

 

Well, at least they got your order right... or did they? ;)

 

Sorry to hear you had "one of those days" Ken. :( OTOH, look on the bright side: It's now officially "the weekend". :D

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:thu:

Shawn Colvin's A Few Small Repairs is a great reference recording for acoustic based pop/rock. Mandolins layered with jangly electrics and capoed Martins. Hip folk/blues harmonica work. It's naturally ambient drums add another layer of cool depth as well. Everything is captured with a naturalness that on paper should make it the antithesis of a pop recording. Except it's a pop as can be in sales.


I steal production ideas from this recording all the time.


True. For how much isolation there was (Leventhal overdubbed how many instruments?), it's very "together" sounding, sometimes moreso than the average band-in-a-room record.

Anyways...

Jewel - Spirit

E.S. Posthumus - Unearthed (Well... Parts of it at least)

John Mayer - Continuum

Butterfly Boucher - Flutterby (BIG budget sound underneath the terrible mastering)

Sheryl Crow - Sheryl Crow;The Globe Sessions

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Well, damn, I went to Islands and got chili cheese fries and a Maui burger and some pina colada just to chill out. I feel better now.


Well, at least they got your order right... or did they?
;)

 

It is the weekend now. And yes, they did get the order right, although they brought the chili cheese fries at the same time as the burgers (the fries are an appetizer on the menu)...but neither of us cared. And they always have very nice rapport with the customers anyway. Friendly place.

 

~~~

 

Back on topic...

 

I *love* the way U2 "The Unforgettable Fire" is recorded. I don't know if it's the best technically or whatever, but the feeling and textures are incredible. Awesome production. And U2 sometimes grates on me, but I feel like they nailed it with this release.

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+1 for Wrecking Ball and Wildflowers

I also really dig:

Joshua Judges Ruth - Lyle Lovett
Tiger Lily - Natalie Merchant
Any of John Leventhal's productions w/Shawn and Rosanne Cash
Kiko - Los Lobos
Nine Objects of Desire - Suzanne Vega

Many, many others.

MG

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So... what CURRENT releases are on the order of Dark Side and Aja? I've seen some modern stuff listed, but are those listed AMAZINGLY RECORDED or just sound really decent?

 

 

I haven't bought any cds recently that just blew me away like the older ones.

 

We'll see if Mutt still has it when Shania Twain's newest CD comes out sooner or later... (does he produce for anyone else anymore, or only her?)

 

I haven't listened to Tom Petty's latest album very carefully, not sure if it's on the order of Wildflowers...

 

I'd love to hear of some recent albums that are on the same level, but I think the public just isn't really interested, and the labels know it :poke:

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actually now that I think about the latest Mark Knopfler release sounds pretty good ("Kill to Get Crimson"). The guitar sounds godly, of course. And it has a lot of cool weird instruments that sound great, too.

 

 

But there is definitely a trend going here... All the suggestions are either old albums, or newer albums by older artists

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So... what CURRENT releases are on the order of Dark Side and Aja? I've seen some modern stuff listed, but are those listed AMAZINGLY RECORDED or just sound really decent?



The problem is, IMO, that the original question - "what are the best engineered / best sounding albums?" tends to lend itself to answers that pertain to the entire history of recording arts. It's a big pool to swim in. :) It's kind of like asking "what are some of the best movies ever made?", and then wondering why there's not a lot of movies from 2007-2008 on the list. There may indeed be some very good movies from 2007-2008, and maybe even one or two might qualify as some of the best movies ever, but there's a huge amount of great movies from previous years of stuff that it has to measure up to.

And IMO, it's really hard to separate the recording quality from the musical content; or, stated another way, it's really hard to do a great recording of cruddy music and sloppy playing. I'm not saying that all music today is cruddy, or that all playing is sloppy, but I do feel that if those elements are present, they are going to adversely affect the recording.

Take, for example, a recording that's on my personal "reference list": EWF's "Fantasy". Now as I already said, I think George Massenburg is one of the finest producer / engineers who has ever walked the planet - just incredibly intelligent and talented. But suppose I could wave a magic wand and change a bunch of stuff on that song - loosening up the tightness so that the kick and bass never quite "hit" together, and taking away the overall groove, changing the arrangements so that things became cluttered and chaotic and stepped all over other parts, messing with intonation of instruments and vocals, changing the basic song so it wasn't as strong - no matter how good George is (and again, I think GM's about as good as it gets when it comes to engineering), the appeal of the recording is going to suffer. Just that one thing I mentioned first - the kick / bass relationship - if the playing isn't tight, it's going to adversely affect the sound of both instruments, and the way the bottom end of the mix works.

The better the musicians, the better the material, and the better the arrangements and sound sources, the better *I* sound; the better my work sounds. There's just no getting around that IMO.

A "great recording" should be an "appropriate" recording - a pristine, super high-fidelity recording isn't always going to be what is best for all styles of music or in all situations. The approach the producer and engineer take from a sonic standpoint should always be complimentary to and reinforce the MUSIC.

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The better the musicians, the better the material, and the better the arrangements and sound sources, the better *I* sound; the better my work sounds. There's just no getting around that IMO.


A "great recording" should be an "appropriate" recording - a pristine, super high-fidelity recording isn't always going to be what is best for all styles of music or in all situations. The approach the producer and engineer take from a sonic standpoint should always be complimentary to and reinforce the MUSIC.

 

 

Huge amen here Phil- it's so stinkin' "holistic" that it hurts...

 

Arrangements- I never would have guessed how a bad arrangement can make my otherwise *cough* brilliant mix sound less-than-stellar.

 

One more of my fav-sounding albums:

 

"Enigmatic Ocean", by Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Who engineered it?

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I agree there's a nice history to dig thru for GREAT mix/recording/engineering. But by now, we have acquired a wealth of knowledge and technological prowess and quality that none before had access to. Surely SOME of the modern stuff should stand out surpassing the oldies. Or is it ALL in the songs and musicians? Have we lost our soul with loudness wars, computer beat accuracy, and fast mass produced lowest common denominator sales music?

 

On that note, I just picked up the latest Alan Parsons from 04 where he's collaborated with a bunch of modern techno people, and surprisingly, it was enjoyable for me and he seemed to keep his same old [good] direction of musical writing and excellent production.

 

Surely there is some modern examples of INTERESTING music that is also recorded and produced with an audiophile attitude that is destined to wind up as all our "Reference CDs" of modern, quality digitally mixed and mastered product?

 

...or is it up to ME to make that product come to exist?? :D hahaha

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So... what CURRENT releases are on the order of Dark Side and Aja? I've seen some modern stuff listed, but are those listed AMAZINGLY RECORDED or just sound really decent?

 

 

Relatively current? Sarah McLachlan "Surfacing" (well, okay, that's about ten years old), a lot of the Beck stuff, anything that Sting and Seal does, Alison Krauss and Union Station, the new Herbie Hancock CD, RHCP "Stadium Arcadium" (not sure about the mastering though on that one though)...

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