1994 Records To Die For

Here we go again---the usual Stereophile suspects rounding up some very unusual suspects of their own, and all collected in "Records To Die For," the highest annual concentration of surprising recommendations in the biz. Reviewers of wares soft and hard pick their absolute most favoritest recordings, each of which must be a) a topnotch performance in b) topnotch stereo sound. But be warned: some of us cheat (if we can get away with it).

This is the fourth go-round for R2D4, which has proven to be one of our most popular and letters-generating features. After all, recorded music is what our often insular high-end hi-fi world is all about. It's fitting that, at least once a year, the Record Review section squeezes itself between those mammoth Equipment Reports and sneaks to the front of the mag. I mean, even Bob Harley must, every once in a while, find time to rest from his mighty digital labors to ponder Life's Ultimate Dilemma: Which record to put on next? It's enough to give an audiophile the jitters.

So here they are, in alphabetical order by writer. Reviews of demise-worthy recordings that have received earlier reviews in these pages end with a little code like this one: "(XIV-9)." This means that the recording in question received a full-fledged review in Stereophile Vol.14 No.9, which was published in September 1991. Following R2D4 proper is a list of the recordings recommended in the three previous annual editions of R2D4.

As in years past, those who have R2D4'd before get a measly two choices, while neophytes get to pick five. And neophytes we do have: Alvin Gold, Jonathan Scull, Paul L. Althouse, the Steves Stone and Stoner (not the same guy), Geary Kaczorowski, our new Copy Editor Kristen Weitz, and, at long last, the Venerable Sam Tellig his own cheap self, who has bet his entire five chances on...oh, why spoil it? Read on
---Richard Lehnert