Recently I came across HP’s “Superdisc List” again and after
perusing his personal list of sonic gems my primary reaction was, “Who cares?”
For anyone under the age of 40, who listens to anything
besides classical music, there’s very little in the way of program material on
HP’s list that would be particularly appealing, based on anything besides
Also, if you don’t buy the assumption that LPs invariably sound
better than digital recordings (which I have only found true for recordings
that were originally recorded, mixed, and mastered for analog) there’s little
in the way of “modern” artists or recordings (recordings made in the last 30
years) on HP’s list.
Although an analog recording made in 1959 can be very, very
good, it is not, by anyone’s standards, state-of-the-art. Recording technology has
continued to advance during the last third of the 20st century, with
the development of DSD, high bit-rate PCM, phase-coherent miking techniques, and
better microphones and microphone preamps. But to look at HP’s list, you would
assume that nothing recorded after 1985 warrants any airtime whatsoever…
Finally there’s the issue of musical taste. It’s unrealistic
to expect any two people to have the same musical tastes, especially if their
birthdates are separated by more than twenty years. From a taste angle very few
of HP’s discs appeal to me. Can anyone honestly say that they enjoy the
performances on Jazz at the Pawnshop?
Or how about the fluff on Andre Previn’s
Music Night? Belafonte, Bachrach, and Rough Trade? No one under the age of
30 gives a fig for any of these artists and would probably only play them if
forced to…I know that I have hated listening to Jazz at the Pawnshop each and every time I’ve been subjected to it.
Frankly, if I put together a list of my favorite “best
sounding” commercial releases it would, most likely, be equally lame. Nobody
but myself and small group of misanthropes living in outer lower Slobovia listens
to Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors
but it’s one of my fave reference discs. But my best and most useful references
are the recordings I’ve made over the years, which are not and never will be
released for public consumption. That’s makes my own reference disc list almost
completely useless for anyone else.
In my humble opinion, most, if not all, of anyone else’s
personal reference disc lists are of little real value because they reflect
someone else’s musical tastes. Sure, these lists are fine beginning guides to
what many people would consider a good recording, but the only “best sound”
list that has any importance is the one you make for yourself, based on your
own musical preferences and values.