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Top 10 must-have CDs, part 2

Great sounding CDs will make your hi-fi sound better--here's a Top 10 of killer demo discs.

This is Part 2 of a list of my favorite sounding CDs of late, in no particular order. My preference is for realistic-sounding recordings, recordings that allow the band to sound "live." And sure, I still like a lot of recordings that are heavily processed, but I wouldn't by any stretch use them to "test" the naturalness of a speaker.

The first half of thetop 10 CD list appeared in the previous Audiophiliac.

A different kind of heavy metal music.

Savage Aural Hotbed, "Wreckquiem"

Talk about heavy metal, Savage Aural Hotbed is a (mostly) industrial percussion group. They rhythmically hit, scrape, or smash pipes, barrels, tenor and baritone snorkelhorns, electric power tools, and drums. I love SAH records for their dense textures and searing dynamics and this new one will give your system an aerobic workout while dazzling your ears with its mesmerizing charms.

Ms. Cash at her best

Rosanne Cash, "10 Song Demo"

OK, this one's from 1996, but it's withstood the test of time. True to the title, it's just Cash accompanied by a small group of players, Production is minimal, so if your system is good enough the music can sound very, very real. The music's a perfect 10.

Jazz that'll rock your world

Gerald Clayton, "Two-Shade"

Clayton's nimble piano trio delivers hard-driving pieces and explosive improvisations that'll push your hi-fi to the limit. The piano, bass, and drums balance is, musically and sonically, as good as it gets. It may be Clayton's trio, but it's a band of equals. The stereo image is set back, behind the plane of my speakers, so it doesn't have the claustrophobic, up close perspective of most contemporary jazz recordings.

New blues for a new century

Bob Brozman, "Post-Industrial Blues"

Bob Brozman is a monster guitar and string player. His updated blues is of our time, but rooted in the tradition. Sonically, Post is a wonder, exquisitely detailed and spacious, and Brozman's odd humor on the Doors' classic, "People Are Strange" is deliciously weird.

One of the best solo piano recordings ever

Dick Hyman, "Thinking About Bix"

Pianist Dick Hyman was thinking about legendary jazz musician, Bix Beiderbecke when he made this CD. The tunes are old, but the joy of the music is timeless. This is a good a solo piano record as I've heard, with life-like dynamics and totally natural timbre. Superb!