Who’s On First?
The longest journey starts with the first step. I’m been on this journey for over 14 years now and am encouraged that the chances for high-resolution audio seem to be on the rise…at least to those of us paying attention to what Neil Young and Pono have done and the proliferation of high-resolution hardware, both portable and stationary, capable of playing back higher fidelity audio. But I always head back to the source and whether we’ll ever be able to get access to the actual “master tapes”. I don’t think anyone would disagree that this is one of the most important things that has to happen in order for audiophiles and music lovers in general to get excited by higher fidelity music.
So where do we start? What titles would you like to see revisited, remastered and re-transferred into high-resolution PCM files? I’m not going to do anything with DSD…I might do some transcodes to DSD if there are potential customers that have to have that sound, but it really makes no sense to me. Why not start with the perfect capture format and then move down to others as necessary. Ideally, I would like to be able to offer new mixes or transfers of surround music albums as well, so don’t leave those out of your requests.
I’m going to submit requests to each of the three major labels for 10 albums. I only want albums where the original “flat master” is available as a 2-channel analog tape. I’ll travel with my equipment to their studios or vaults if that’s what it takes. If the original “master” exists following a mastering session, then I would accept those as well. I don’t want the “high-resolution” digital transfers that have already been done and are available for sale through HDtracks and other sites. I’ve found too many problems and inconsistencies in that material. This will obviously limit the actual number of Dr. AIX certified iTrax or High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray releases, but I hope people will come to trust the quality as I deliver them.
Here’s my own top five list to get us started:
1. Joni Mitchell – “Blue” This album is definitely one of my “desert island” must have recordings. The tunes are introspective, Joni’s singing is spot on and the instrumentation is sparse and entirely acoustic.
2. James Taylor – “Sweet Baby James” I realize I’m dating myself but this album inspired me to learn to play the guitar. I saw Robert Byrne (look him up…he went on to have a major career as a songwriter and producer in Nashville before an untimely death at the age of 51.) play “Fire and Rain” at a high school assembly in 1971 and was impressed. JT has always been a favorite of mine.
3. Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Crosby, Stills & Nash” Another acoustic and vocal masterpiece. Would love to hear this in surround and high-resolution.
4. Bruce Hornsby and the Range – “The Way It Is” This debut album from Bruce Hornsby put acoustic piano on the map of commercial music. His voice, songs and arrangements were perfect…and I knew the bass player Joe Puerta (from working with Ambrosia) back when I first started engineering.
5. Van Morrison – “Moondance” – This was Van Morrison’s third release and brought the Northern Irish singer-songwriter to a large American audience and established him as a major artist. The jazz influence on the title track was brilliant step.
So I’ve kicked it off…I know this shows my age, but perhaps there are others out there that would love to hear these albums at their absolute best. I know I would.
53 thoughts on “Who’s On First?”
I don’t know who you consider to be “the top 3”, but I’d love to hear Kate Bush’s Aerial…
I like that suggestion…big fan.
Geez Mark, not sure of your followers demographics, but perhaps weigh by genre. For jazz , somebody needs to do Brubeck especially with Desmond. Dave Benoit, and Bob James for piano also. Country we have Heather Miles, Patti Austin. Blues there’s BB and Allman. You like Taylor, how about Gates then. R&B it’s The Spinners especially w Warwick, remember “it’s a Shame”?, Sadie, and Al Green. Any tracs would do. As for dating myself, nobody sang like the old girls, Lena Horne, Renee Fleming, Patsy Cline more recently recently Sue Raney and Katherine Jenkins. ANYTHING Classical, most if not all tracs sadly, aren’t worth listening to. Best are those of the Berlin and Philadelphia orchestras, don’t ask me why, great venues ?
All good choices. Here’s a couple I always hoped would show up remastered in high res and in surround:
Ry Cooder – Jazz
Dave Grusin – Mountain Dance
Larry McNeely – Confederation
Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac
Count Basie – Kansas City Shout
John Klemmer – Touch
Supertramp – Even in the Quietest Moments
Atomic Mr Basie and love that Supertramp album, a much better alum than their highly successful ‘Breakfast In America’ – which was also very good.
A few jazz picks, oriented towards the small ensemble material that benefits most from being able to hear the upper harmonics:
Gary Burton’s Duster – an early masterpiece of his, with Larry Coryell on guitar, Roy Haynes on drums and Steve Swallow on bass. Larry Coryell’s and Burton’s playing on “Sweet Rain” are liquid gold. Positively criminal that it’s only available these days as an import from overseas!
Bill Evans’ Conversations with Myself – Evans improvised this triple-tracked recording, switching from playing lead to accompaniment on each track, imagining what he’d be playing later, so that the improvised lead flits from left to right to center. No other instruments. The best track is “The Love Theme from Spartacus” This disk has never been released in full fidelity.
The Paul Winter Consort Road “Icarus” was a tune I used to sign my college station on with during the summer I worked on-campus and kept the station on the air. This disk, recorded live, has very good sound.
More nominees later . . .
Mark– here’s my list:
1. The Who- Who’s Next- This is one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It has never been released in anything higher than CD resolution. Would love to hear this one transferred to 24/96 or 24/192.
2. Steely Dan- Royal Scam & Katie Lied- I have the original LP releases of both of these albums and the LP kicks the butt of any CD release of these two albums.The production and engineering on all Steely Dan albums are impeccable — hearing these albums in high resolution surround would be a dream.
3. Pink Floyd- Animals- A very underrated album. Personally my second favorite Pink Floyd album after Dark Side. Again the original LP is much better than anything released on CD. The sound quality of this recording is first rate. Never released on anything higher than CD resolution.
4. Al Stewart- Year of the Cat- Exceptional sound quality and great tunes from beginning to end.
5 Crosby Stills and Nash – CSN – Artistically this album is not as good as their first release, but very good nonetheless. Great sound on this one -love the “fat bass” on their albums!
Wish you the best of luck in getting the cooperation from the record companies!
Crooked Still’s 2nd album: “Shaken by a Low Sound”
This is a great sounding album of neo-bluegrass by classically trained performers.
I suspect the masters would sound better than the CD which is excellent.
I know how good they sound “live” having worked with them locally.
Supertramp: Crime of the Century
Any Pink Floyd, Yes, or Rick Wake man albums
I hate to use the dreaded word ‘vinyl’, but
I know I have some classics that would
sound 100 times better in high resolution.
Now I just have to find them!
great idea. I have a number of DVD Audio discs and for me the most exciting are the Foreigners, Doobie Bros, Chicago and other rock acts of the 70’s .
2Channel would be good but 5.1 PCM would be a treat . I will be first in line for ANY multi channel hi res. Very exciting concept . Thanks
These may have been done surround but you can do better with Plageant and less compression : all Pink Floyd Albums from DSOTM on, all Moody Blues and of course the benchmark : Kind of Blue. My other favorites are: Joni Mitchel-Hejira, Santana-Abraxas, The Animal-Every One of Us+ The Winds of Change, Jimi Hendrix-Axis Bold as Love+ Electric Ladyland, Bachman Cummings Songbook, Blood, Sweat & Tears-BS&T, Sting-Fields of Gold, Supertramp-Breakfast in America, Led Zeppelin-Led 1, Chicago-Transit Authority,
King Crimson,-21st, ELP-Works, Chuck Mangione-Feel so Good, Steve Miller-Fly Like an Eagle, Paul Simon-Graceland, Earth Wind & Fire-I am, Pink Martini-Hey Eugene, Eagles-Hell Freezes Over, Iron Butterfly-In a Gadda-Da-Vida, Harmonium-Heptade, Bob Dylan-Blonde on Blonde, The Who-Tommy, Fleetwood Mac-Rumours, Molly Johnson-Lucky, Elton John-Madman Across the Water, Quadro Nuevo-Mocca Flor, The Phil Collin’s Band-Montreux Jazz Festival ’96, David Gilmour-On an Island, Pink Floyd Tribute-The Royal Philarmonic Plays Pink Floyd, Genesis-Selling England by the Pound, Marvin Gaye-What’s Going On?, Doors-Strange Days, Eurythmics-Sweet Dreams, Sade-Lovers Rock, Yes-Fragile+Close to the Edge,
Rolling Stones-Let It Bleed, Traffic-John Barley Corn Must Die, Billy Joel-The Piano Man,
Stevie Wonder-Songs in the Key of Life, Eric Clapton-Unplugged, Carole King-Tapestry,
Beach Boy-50th Live Concert, Dire Straits-Brothers in Arms, Police-Synchronicity, Lighthouse-One Fine Morning, Cream-Wheels of Fire.
Interesting list, but some are useless choices. To name a few: Dire straits, Clapton, Eagles and others are all recorded in 44.1-16bit. Wouldn’t make much sense to “upgrade them”. Yes Fragile exists in great surround on DVD-Audio.
You have made a good starting point – with some fine examples!! Here is 2 by me: Warren Zevon – WZ(which was very good recorded in the original vinyl I remember). And Eagles – Hotel California which helds a special place in an old mind!!
There`s many more – but let other chime in….
Keep the good work up Mark – and we`ll see if we get to some better place in soundland…
Your list of 5 is a great place to start, and others have made great suggestions also. If you start offering music like this for sale, I’m a regular buyer of your work. Can’t wait! I enjoy your daily posts.
Man where to start? I’m beyond tired of all of the re-treads–though great, I’m ready for some fresh material that would open up the audience. No Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Dire Straits, etc.
Here’s my wish list and from knowing the market a little from working in it for 8 years in the 90s, these are all iconic and timeless albums that no one has offered in true HD. All were recorded analog as far as I know-minus War on Drugs.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless – Creation Records (One of the most well reviewed albums of he 90’s. Lush soundscape of guitars).
Brian Eno – Another Green World – Island Records (It was already mastered with incredible delicacy, but I’d love to have this as 24/192 off the master tapes.
Radiohead – Ok Computer – Parlophone/Capital (If this ever gets released in HD, it will skyrocket and crush all previous album sales of any album released in true HD. Too bad iTunes will likely get it and just rip a CD and convert to 24/96. This is a piece of art that exceeds Beck’s Sea Change. Complex and riveting ].)
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Nonesuch Records (Gorgeous album and I’m frankly surprised to never have seen it in HD. Recorded most beautifully.)
War On Drugs – Slave Ambient – Secretly Canadian Records (Krautrock mixed with Bruce Springsteen/Ryan Adams. This guy from Philly has just released an even more spectacular album just two weeks ago. He’s also an audiophile)
Sigur Ros -Agaetis Byrjun – Pias / Fat Cat / Bad Taste Records (Pioneers of “post-rock” sound. This album has always been on every best of all time lists with the indie websites, especially Pitchfork, scoring a 92 Album Rating.
I could go on and on. These are albums with seriously loyal followings and fans. They are as iconic in the indie world as Joni and JT are in the pop/folk world. All timeless albums.
And one more for the road…and a very oscure but highly reviewed albums from 1970:
Demon Fuzz – Afreaka! – Janus Records (You can find the album on Youtube, and that’s it. I found a vinyl version of it 6 years ago and have been offered up to $1K for it. I won’t let it go. The band name likely kept this jazz-soul-funk-psychadelica band from breaking big. This is so far ahead of it’s time. Now it’s one of the most sought after albums among old school funk collectors.
That’s some off the top of my head.
Chick Corea and Gary Burton Crystal Silence – an album that transcended categories. An unaccompanied piano and vibes duet, the first disk in a many-decades long partnership, still ongoing, that according to legend, was launched at a jazz festival where they were the only ones willing to play, unrehearsed, in a show-closing jam session. HDtracks has this, but only in 44/16.
Dave Grisman and Denny Zeitland’s New River a relatively recent album of unaccompanied piano and mandolin duets, half of them written by each of them, dancing across the boundary between jazz and folk. Recorded by Grisman at his home studio, released as a “secret” HDCD – I only discovered that it was one when I burned a CD from the 44/16 download from HDtracks, put it into my Oppo – and saw the HDCD light come on. Streamed across the network the Oppo couldn’t tell that it was encoded as an HDCD, so it played it at 16 bit resolution. The difference is clearly audible, and I’d love to hear it at 96/24. For those who’re not familiar with Denny Zeitland’s name, he’s the guy who wrote “Quiet Now” – a tune that Bill Evans recorded so often that many folks think its an Evans tune. Denny Zeitland is based in California, Mark – maybe he’d be interested in recording with you.
Doobie Bros: Livin’ on the Fault Line
I’ve been slowly archiving my ‘pristine’ vinyl collection for the past several years using a high quality ‘front-end’ — VPI, Zeta, Denon, Audio Research and now an Apogee Duet 2 converter, at 192/24. This is obviously a time-consuming, painstaking process but the results in many cases are audibly superior to the CD or HD digital downloads. Adobe Audition spectragraphs seem to confirm this as well when I compare the ’needle drops’ to the commercial digital files.
Since many great vintage recordings with superb sound quality are not candidates for HD remastering because the original masters are lost, damaged or unavailable for a host of reasons, restoration from a good vinyl source may be the only option.
I want to be able to purchase HD remasters of original recordings but I wonder if the condition of 45+ year old master tapes of C,S&N (for example) would be good enough, with age-related oxide shedding, print-thru and dropouts, to really make a significant improvement over what can be ‘squeezed’ from an original vinyl pressing in mint condition?
In any event I applaud your efforts to ‘wake the sleeping giants’ and wish you well in your efforts. I look forward to being able to compare a properly produced HD master tape transfer of CSN’s “C,S&N” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” to the ‘needle drops’ in my collection!
Great blog! – very informative – refreshingly, based on real-world professional knowledge and experience.
Thanks…you may be right about the condition of 50 year old tapes. I’m planning on visiting with a close friend that is the head of mastering at Warner Brothers and see what I can find out about the tapes.
The Pentangle, Sweet Child, a double-album by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson, and Terry Cox – a British-isles acoustic folk-jazz group that ranged across centuries of musical styles and is still well-loved.
The Manhattan Transfer’s Vocalese which featured a collection of lyrics by Jon Hendricks (of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross) to numerous jazz tunes that he assembled for this album. “Vocalese” is a style of vocal jazz in which lyrics are written not only for the main melody of landmark instrumental recordings but also for the improvised solos. It was pioneered by singer Eddie Jefferson and made well-known by LH&R. The Transfer took up the style after LH&R had retired, and one of the tracks, “Body and Soul” starts with Eddie Jefferson’s lyric to Coleman Hawkins’ famous recording of the song, a lyric that celebrated the Hawk. Jon Hendricks extended the lyric so the Transfer could pay tribute to Eddie Jefferson as well. Hendricks’ lyrics are often poetically-philosophical, like his lyric here to “Joy Spring.” This is a gorgeous album that I’d love to hear in 96/24 surround.
Frank Zappa — Over-nite Sensation
Squirrel Nut Zippers — Hot
Michael Jackson — Thriller
Nat King Cole — Stepping out of a Dream
Louis Prima — Collector’s Series
Good stuff there.
Tuck and Patti Tears of Joy, recorded by Tuck in their home studio. Her voice accompanied by his acoustic guitar, making pure magic. Any of their other albums would be great too – including his solo disk Reckless Precision.
I guess this is a task of gargantuan proportions. Nonetheless, worth the effort of the thousands of people who’ve been involved in writing, performing, recording, mixing and mastering. And yours to recover them in a different way.
The whole work of Van Cliburn playing Bach.
Von Karajan’s rendition of Mozart’s Coronation Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica
John Coltrane’s Blue Train
Thelonius Monk’s Straight no Chaser
The Who’s Quadrophenia
Yo Yo Ma Bach’s Cello Sonatas
Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A
U2’s The Joshua Tree
Diana Krall’s All for You
Rennaisance’s Scheherazade and Other Stories,
Elecrtric Light Orchestra’s Eldorado
Eels’s Beautiful Freak
Paul Mc Cartney’s Flaming Pie
The Beatles’ Abbey Road, The White Album and Sargent Pepper
Damien Rice’s “O”
Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth (BTW: I think this live record must be re-mixed, re-mastered and re-everything. It’s a breathtaking trip that’s never seen the light with all the power it deserves).
Buenavista Social Club
The Rolling Stones’ Goat Head’s Soup, Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers
Mike Batt’s Schizophonia
The Planets’ Classical Graffiti
Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde
The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin
Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue
Yes… we could go on forver, because we want good music to be preserved as it was intended to sound.
I see the usual audiophile suspects have already been mentioned. I could add Love (Forever Changes) or The Doors and a lot of classical music, but I’m only asking for After Bathing at Baxter’s, Jefferson Airplane’s masterpiece that has never been mastered properly in the first place.
Monty Alexander. All his albums already sound great on cd (some sacd) and Randy Westons cd Portraits of Duke Ellington
I worked with Monty on the Ernest Ranglin project we did some years ago…a great individual and player. I may still go after a new project with him.
Gordon Lightfoot …. Sundown album
How could I forget to put Gordon Lightfoot on MY list…an absolute favorite.
Pink Floyd – All of them, I find it hard to say which is the best with these guys, certainly up to ‘The Division Bell’
Grateful Dead – The 2 Live doubles and the main studio albums
The Doors – Of course
Fairport Convention – at least all of the Sandy Deny albums, especially ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’
Quintessence – The first 3 albums
Quicksilver Messenger Service – first 3 or 4 albums
Tommy – but of course and Who’s Next as someone has already suggested.
Don’t forget the Allmans!
Hendrix – did I need to mention the KIng?
Jackson Browne – For Everyman
Canned Heat – 1st couple? Certainly ‘Boogie With Canned Heart’ I have a mono version of this cracker in the late 60s.
Tracy Chapman – ‘Tracy Chapman’ and ‘Matters of the Heart’ – about the most underrated albums EVER!
Jim Croce – ‘ I Got A Name’ at a very minimum.
CSNY ‘Deja Vu’ – Shame on those who mentioned CSN and didn’t mention this, one of the greatest albums ever.
Eagles – Up to but not necessarily including ‘Hotel California’
Frank Zappa – Hot Rats & Waka/Jawaka
Incredible String Band – ‘Earthspan’
Terry Tiley ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air’
Add ‘Ladies of the Canyon’ to the Joni collection please
Probably not worth mentioning the Stones because you won’t get ’em.
Frank Sinatra – I still marvel at this guy’s singing.
Traffic – didn’t do that many albums and they were all great.
Turing to Blues & Jazz – I just don’t know where to start. These two genres are not full up with Kylie Minogue’s and Brittany Spears’ – thank God. It is just full of great people like: George Shearing, Art Tatum, Art Blakey, Paul Desmond, The Duke, The Count, Ella, Sonhouse, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Thelonius Monk etc etc etc etc.
With Classical I won’t even bother, but you might decide to not go down that route. There are a few sites already that serve the classical fans pretty well, so Doc I think we would forgive you if you steered away from this field.
Right Doc, get your skates on and get to it.
ps will you supply headphone mixes at no extra cost?
The way the new iTrax site is being put together, users will be able to select which format, which mix and which specifications they want. I guess I’ll have to figure out how to get some sort of bundling deal going with the headphones thing.
Any Sarah Brightman, also Carol Rosenberger, Watermusic of the impressionists. Rosenberger plays a Iow C On The Bosendorfer piano on the La Cathedrale Engloutie that will move you to tears!
Interesting that you mention Carol…it’s been a very long time, but I worked with her on a couple of projects. A wonderful player.
Steely Dan -can’t buy a Thrill, Elo’s greatest Hits, The who- Who’s Next, Jazz- The Crusaders
I’ll second Mark F’s selection with the possible substitution of Fleetwood Mac for Al Stewart.
Anyway, what are the *real* chances of you getting the labels to share their “flat masters”? Most record labels are, at best, ‘dens of vipers’. At worst, Beelzebub’s better cousin!
Like your post earlier this week, when you proffered $250k to some female artist, unless these bastards see a number followed by lots of zeros, they could care less about high fidelity.
I’ll have to take this one step at a time. I have lots of friends in the business and some in important positions. All I can do it try. Once they see that there is a demand, they may open up their vaults. It’s all on those of us who care and want the best.
What Brent H says, Mark. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!
We’ll see if I can pull this off…but thanks.
I enjoy Fleetwood Mac. The recent release of their self titled album on HD Tracks was a bit of a disappointment with the highs very compressed. Agree with you–would love to hear Mark remaster it for high resolution surround.
Offer your 5 firsts in a package, I will buy them. Following are some of my desires: Blood, Sweat, & Tears, The Doors “Strange Days”, Santanna “Abraxus”, and Eric Clapton “Unplugged”. Keep pushing for better quality releases, your efforts are appreciated.
There are many tasty albums among those suggested. I’ll add two: Wes Montgomery, “The Wes Montgomery Trio,” his first recording for Riverside and Santana, “Abraxas.” Good luck with your ambitious project. I will be an eager customer.
1) LA Woman…I think Bruce Botnick’s surround and stereo remix is nasty. Must have had a grudge against Ray Manzarek- he squashes the keyboard solo in LA Woman to the point you can barely hear it-unforgivable.
2) Early Yes
3)Judy Collins-Colors of the Day-turn down the damn whales on Farewell to Tarwathie–a hauntingly beautiful song marred by the mammals in the backyard.
4)Bob Dylan-Desire.Love the album but seems a little muddy.
5) Roy Orbison-what a voice.
A second for Gordon Lightfoot and Abraxis!!
Maybe some Donovan??
Thanks for all you do,
My choices would be
Sade- Love deluxe
Radiohead- In Rainbows
Silversun Pickups- Swoon
Whitesnake- Slide It In
Pink Floyd – Animals
Thank you so much.
Thanks for your efforts, Mark. I wish you success on this task for the benefit of music lovers worldwide. Your list of 5 is a great place to start, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to listen to any of those records in HD. Trying to add some others that have not been mentioned by others (I think):
-“Music from big pink”
-“Every picture tells a story”
Loggins & Messina: Full Sail
Mannheim Steamroller: Fresh Aire III
Emerson Lake & Palmer: From the Beginning
Dan Fogelberg: Home Free
Joni Mitchell: Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
Loggins and Messina…and Fogelberg are great suggestions. I know Chip Davis and his engineer of Mannheim Steamroller. This is a possibility.
Stuff that comes to mind:
Cosmo’s Factory – CCR
Quarter Moon in A Ten Cent Town – Emmylou Harris
Revolver – The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper’s – The Beatles
Car Wheels on A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
Children Running Through – Patty Griffin
Something Else – The Kinks
Return to Magenta – Mink DeVille
O. C. M. S. – Old Crow Medicine Show
Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake
Famous Blue Raincoat – Jennifer Warnes
Revival – Gillian Welch
A Rock & Roll Alternative – Atlanta Rhythm Section
For Monty Alexander, I would go with Montreau Alexander. Superb record with excellent sound. Saw the trio in NYC earlier this year and they were superb. The all all true gentlemen as well and were a treat to chat with between sets. I would love to hear An Evening at Charlie’s with Mel Torme and George Shearing on Concord. BTW, Songs in the Key of Life and Thriller are already available in high rez. They sound superb
Thanks Joe. Monty is a true gentleman and a superb pianist.
For me, he is the best in the business. The joyfullness with which he plays is awe inspiring. To see him at the Blue Note which holds all of 150 people was unreal. Monty, Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton. Does it get any better? Now that would a trio I would love to hear you record Mark.
somebody tell why in the hell “ANIMALS’ BY FLOYD has not been released in hi res digital format.