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Best engineered / best sounding album


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I have been paying attention lately to the work Johnny Sandlin has been doing with Rockin' Camel Music. (Relatively) new releases of his for Kenny Acosta, Jimmy Hall and Danny Brooks come to mind as capturing and building on the vibe that he had going on when he was doing the Allman Brothers. Very natural, warm, ear-pleasing stuff.

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Here's one that's "only" ten years old, but holds up (IMHO) against just about anything: Seal "No Easy Way" (off of "Human Being", 1998) - that song and performance SLAY me! And the recording just "works" in support of that. It's an outstanding recording - rich, lush and tasteful... but again, without a great song and such an impassioned performance, the recording wouldn't mean nearly as much... at least that's how I see it.

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I love The Jellyfish's Bellybutton album. It's a little older so it doesn't qualify as hot off the presses, but they really are about really nicely produced power pop that is so catchy. The thing about their stuff is that they really take to heart that 'have few instruments but make every one really count' approach. Some of their songs, at least on Bellybutton, are sparse, but that allows every instrument to really fill up a lot of space, often with nice, long reverb tails. It's a little bit toppy in places, but in terms of a lesson in nice power pop production, it's great. I'd love to reach that level with some of my stuff.

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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)...

 

Those are pretty good "currentish" standards to me as well. I can always hear that M149 sound on Surfacing now.

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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?

 

Wow, above Ponty album. Never heard too many people mention this before. Seems like some of the classics were heard on vinyl. Maybe we should go back but the modern crowd has no way to play. :lol:

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The "Classics" vinyl are back when they were trying to reproduce MUSIC, not compete for the LOUDEST, short lived, advertising moment. We went CD with more dynamics possible, then cut it in half in production. Then we weep.

 

I love ALL of Ponty's stuff. Production is okay, but the writing is the grabber. And Surfacing is WONDERFUL to listen to. Never thought of listing it here, though it's one my secret pleasures. It IS very well done.

 

still.... no big "Single Concept" type works anymore? with effects, and story and continuinity? [iE Dark Side, Wall, I Robot, Pyramid etc]

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It blows my mind to see mention of the Ponty albums. I thought I was alone by now. I just bought a best of collection but my favorite by him is still Aurora. The recording is that dry 70's sound that with the right musicians can just blow your mind. In this case, Daryl Stuermer, Patrice Rushen and Fowler (Tim/Tom?) on bass. I forget the drummer but he was great. Larry Hirsch worked on this one as well, setting the bar for Ocean. Great and overlooked album.

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As much of an electronica guy I am, I was a little let down with the musical writing when Ponty embraced sequencers starting.... when? post Civilized Evil? I forget which one. The synths were very repetative and less musical... to me :(. Still enjoyed it a little though

 

BTW I ran out and bought 6 new CD's this weekend because of this thread!! Aja, SD Collection, Madonna GHV2, Sting, others :D

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OK... no one has mentioned any of the Peter Gabriel recordings. So is fantastic for squeaky clean pop adventurism. But my favorite is the the unnamed "drippy face" album. This is the album that started the ambient, gated hall drum sound of the 80's. Phil Collins is so frequently credited with starting this on his Face Value album with In the Air. Wrong. It was Peter Gabriel's album with Phil banging the tubs.

 

There are so many cool moments on this album with regards to recording ideas. The Intruder, No Self Control, Games Without Frontiers. Ambient drums, spikey guitars predating XTC. This album was a landmark for the ugly sound as art crowd.And it doesn't sound so ugly anymore. It's great.

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Wow, you guys keep mentioning really great stuff that I totally agree with.

 

Peter Gabriel...well, so much of his stuff sounds so great. I'm particularly partial to "So", but there's so many others.

 

Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain - fantastic textures, feel

 

Bjork - Homogenic

 

Metheny - Bright Size Life and Offramp sound awesome. These aren't my favorite, although I much prefer BSL, but they do sound really awesome.

 

Jean-Luc Ponty - Enigmatic Ocean it's been soooo long since I've played this, but I do remember it sounding really awesome, and further, being one of my favorite of the so-called "fusion" thing. Was quite popular with my friends who liked fusion, and his violin skills were amazing.

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It blows my mind to see mention of the
Ponty
albums. I thought I was alone by now. I just bought a best of collection but my favorite by him is still Aurora. The recording is that dry 70's sound that with the right musicians can just blow your mind. In this case, Daryl Stuermer, Patrice Rushen and Fowler (Tim/Tom?) on bass. I forget the drummer but he was great. Larry Hirsch worked on this one as well, setting the bar for Ocean. Great and overlooked album.

 

 

I know the drummer on "Ocean" was a pre-Journey Steve Smith, but I don't know who played on "Aurora".

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I'm surprised this never gets mentioned, but Seven and the Ragged Tiger(Duran Duran) never ceases to amaze me with how it's intricate arrangement was mixed...not to mention it's transcending listening experience for a 13 yr old kid in a small town. I'll throw in Rio as a runner up. :)

As for Peter Gabriel, I prefer the continuity of Us. I love the tones & mix of Abacab, Genesis. As for electronic, I can listen to Violator, Depeche Mode, over and over again. Patrick O'Hearn's Eldorado got a LOT of listening time tho.

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"Concept albums" are kind of out of fashion right now... we're kind of back in the 1950's again - a period where singles tend to get more love, more attention than albums as a whole.

 

In some ways, more's the pity, but the "typical" listener doesn't seem to be as interested in listening to "albums" these days. :(

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Wow, it's SO nice to see so many of you naming such great albums. It brought a tear to my eye... I agree with so many of the choices in this thread. I have a new found respect for the members of this board! I will second about anything listed so far and I've seen all my long time favorites already listed. Rather than list them again, I will add some recent albums I haven't seen here yet.

 

Slightly off radar:

 

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha (nice Americana feel)

 

Other recent standouts for me:

 

Sigur Ros - Hvarf/Heim (live "field" recordings especially)

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (almost sounds like vinyl!)

Radiohead - In Rainbows (their best yet)

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do mine eyes deceive me? did I really just see four pages of citations and no timbaland? christ, the guy should be knighted for "Work It" alone! ok, ok, this board is pretty pale & old-school, but still:

 

the N*E*R*D guys for all sorts of records ("Milkshake" babee), as well as their own.

 

Prince Paul: 3 Feet Hi & Rising (De La Soul)

 

The Bomb Squad: "Fear of a Black Planet" (Public Enemy), absolutely jaw-dropping

 

James Brown, for just about everything he produced. the guy had EARS. ("Give It Up, Turn It Loose" production is so bizarre and unearthly it's STILL ahead of its time)

 

XTC: Hugh Padham on "English Settlement", Steve Lillywhite on "Black Sea"

 

Peter Prilesnik/Sarah Harmer for Harmer's "You Were Here", really great, clear, warm folkrock sound . . . along the lines of "A Few Small Repairs" (totally agree with the earlier post on that one)

 

as for pink floyd, I always thought the production of "Wish You Were Here" outstripped just about anything else they did. and all sorts of electronica/ambient stuff: especially the propellerheads, chemical brothers, and global communication.

 

and as for live recordings: "The Weavers At Carnegie Hall" simply one of the best live concert recordings ever.

 

now I'll shut up.

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timbaland... HA! yeah ok :D I dunno... I found the "work it" loops low quality, the sequencer TOO in the pocket, the vocals swimming in timing errors... but, secretly, I DO like the sound achieved in Apologize - far from award winning, I think it's done nicely

 

hey! We need a RAZZIEs style award for crap engineered and produced albums along side our props for the best sound. sorry off topic here

 

How about specific songs that stand out? I tell ya when I was 3 or whatever, I first heard that stupid song "ROCK ON" by David Essex [i think] and I was RIVETED to the production. The song is nothing, but the PRODUCTION probably got me started at all this recording junk. Then, "I'm not in love" from 10CC leap out of the tiny 2 inch speaker in my blue colored portable Radio Shack AM Flavoradio, and slapped me across my cerebral cortex... good stuff!

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