1993 Records To Die For

There's been a shift in the quality of in-house complaint from the Stereophile staff since we started the annual "Records to Die For" feature two years ago. At first, most of our contributing editors---especially the hardcore hardware cadre---weren't sure they could name a single disc that fit the seemingly simple criteria of world-class performance in world-class stereo sound. As this fulfilled all my nightmares of techno-weenies listening to equipment first and music second, if at all, I was not sympathetic. "So sue me," I growled in my best cigar-in-mouth, shoes-on-desk, tough-guy editor snarl. "Get real, runts. Wake up an' smell da vinyl. Da readers is countin' on youse. Geddoudamyface and just do it."

Well, my guys and gals got real and came through with class. This time most of the complaints were of the you-mean-I-only-get-to-choose-two? variety, which this tough guy (I don't dance) can live with. As our tattooed cover dude will attest, there are still plenty of great recordings out there, more than enough for a lifetime of listening. Whether you prefer LPs, CDs, or just plain music, you'll find rich pickings in the following dreamlists.

As in last year's R2D4, writers who've already taken a whack at choosing five recordings (almost all of them) got two picks this time around; writers new to R2D4 got to name their full first five. Also as before, those recordings that have been reviewed in Stereophile since the birth of the regular monthly music section in 1987 are so noted; ie, a listing ending in (XI-5) was reviewed in Vol.11 No.5. And for completists (who figure high in Stereophile's readership), we close with a master list of all the To-Die-Fors from 1992 and '91. So start reading and make your own list---the shopping kind.
---Richard Lehnert