The Ideal Qobuz Collection comprises original, uncompiled albums that have made a considerable mark on music history or which qualify as essential recordings within each musical genre. By downloading these albums, or streaming them with your subscription, you begin a journey that will shine a light on some of the finest moments in recorded music.

Albums

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Country - Released April 18, 2016 | Light In The Attic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Reissued by HackTone after its original CD issue in 1995, Heartworn Highways is the sonic companion to the classic 1981 documentary of the same name. David Gorman goes out of his way to tell listeners/purchasers that this disc is not the soundtrack to the film because there never was one. HackTone "had to go back to the original film elements and Nagra tapes with the film's editor and producer to create one," according to Gorman. They "spent months working between them and an audio restoration engineer in New York to make a stand-alone album out of audio that works perfectly well while watching the film but would sound horribly disjointed otherwise. In fact, most of the performances in the film are edited down to about 1/4 their original length." This is key because it must have been a very painful process at time--especially during the 'round table' recordings on Christmas Eve at the end of the album. The microphone was literally in motion during the entire evening, trying to capture whoever was singing lead; but you'd never know it by listening to the CD. The breathtaking sound quality is a credit to restoration engineer Alan Silverman. A number of performances were left off in order to make this fit onto a single disc. What is here is a vintage treasure trove of the then-emerging singer/songwriter movement from the (mostly) American South. What is most important to note is that these performances were recorded for the documentary; they are not licensed recordings from a catalog. Some of the artists included here are no longer with us, but their performances (e.g., Townes Van Zandt's "Waitin' 'Round to Die" and "Pancho and Lefty," Gamble Rogers' "Charlie's Place" and "The Black Label Blues") are chilling and top-notch. Yet, they are in context because these infromal performances are stunning throughout. Some of the truly notable ones are by songwriters who are not well known even now among the general populus -- for example, the great Steve Young, who decided on deeply moving covers of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" along with his own "Alabama Highway". Youngis the guy who wrote "Seven Bridges Road," "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" (the anthem of Waylon's outlaw movement that didn't include him--though, who was an outlaw long before it became a marketing concept)--and his "Montgomery in the Rain." is also here. Larry Jon Wilson makes an appearance with his deep backwoods "Ohoopee River Bottomland," which is equal parts Tony Joe White and Lightnin' Hopkins, all of it wrapped in Young's swampy Georgia voice and guitar playing. Guy Clark is heard on five cuts, three of them well known, but "Ballad of Laverne and Captain Flint" makes it too. Other writers here include David Allan Coe and John Hiatt, both of whom originally hailed from the Midwest. Hearing Coe in this setting is especially rewarding, almost separated from his bullshit image, just playing and singing his utterly moving songs, especially "I Still Sing the Old Songs," done with only an acoustic guitar. The glimpses listeners get of Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle apart from the slick Nashville production on their own records is especially refreshing. This is a timeless collection that truly stands on its own whether or not you saw the film in 1981 (it is available on DVD thank goodness). It's a no-jive set of songwriters doing what they do best away from the hype, the myth-making, and the self-destructive impulses that have plagued many of them. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released December 11, 2015 | RLG - Legacy

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Country - Released October 16, 2015 | Charly

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This is the second perfect album Van Zandt cut in 1972, a complement to High, Low and in Between. Together they contain the highest points of his brilliant but erratic career. The Late Great may be a bit stronger, with classics like "Pancho & Lefty," "No Lonesome Tune," and "If I Needed You," but there's not a weak track here. Van Zandt's voice is in top shape, the song selection is superb, and Jack Clement's understated production gives the tunes a timeless quality. He eschews the hokey touches that make parts of Our Mother the Mountain sound corny, opting for a subdued sound that uses light touches of folk, pop, and country music in their arrangements. The set opens with "No Lonesome Tune," one of Van Zandt's more hopeful songs, delivered with mandolin, quiet pedal steel, and piano complementing Van Zandt's poignant vocal. "Sad Cinderella" and the epic "Silver Ships of Andilar" are mysterious ballads with oblique lyrics, open to many interpretations. In the Van Zandt documentary Be Here to Love Me the singer says that his goal is to write songs so peculiar that "nobody knows what they mean, not even me." He succeeds with these two numbers. "Sad Cinderella" could be a song of recrimination to a woman at the end of an affair, or a disillusioned letter to an America caught in the contradictions of the Vietnam War, or perhaps just an exercise in poetic language. Whatever its meaning, Van Zandt's pained vocal and sparse piano fill it with longing and tenderness. "Andilar" is one of the most atypical tunes in Van Zandt's catalog, a five-minute epic of war and betrayal filled with images of sinking ships, icebergs, battle, and death. Acoustic guitar, a wailing female background chorus, and a sweeping orchestral arrangement give it a cinematic feel, and again it could be about Vietnam, some long forgotten European war, or his own inner turmoil. Whatever the meaning, its scope is cinematic and full of Van Zandt's singular poetry. "Pancho & Lefty," Van Zandt's greatest commercial success, has a folk/pop arrangement with mariachi horns coming in on the coda to give it a Mexican flavor. It's the best rendition of the tune Van Zandt ever cut. "If I Needed You" is purely romantic, one of Van Zandt's most understated love songs, simply sung over a bouncy country rhythm. The album's three covers get made over into Van Zandt's own image. Guy Clarke's "Don't Let the Sunshine Fool Ya" uses pedal steel, female backing vocals, and bluesy guitar to deliver a message that's full of ironic humor. Hank Williams' "Honky Tonkin'" is pure country, with Van Zandt's vocals siding up the scale to crack on the high notes just like Hank Sr used to do. "Fraulein" uses a fiddle to add poignancy to Van Zandt's vocals on this post-WWII tune about a GI's impossible love for a German girl. The album closes with the goofy spiritual "Heavenly Houseboat Blues," that sees Van Zandt sailing down the river Jordan in a slowly sinking silver houseboat. He gargles the last verse with a mouth full of water, ending the set on an odd, giddy note. ~ j. poet
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Country - Released June 15, 2015 | SMCMG

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Country - Released April 3, 2015 | RLG - Legacy

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Blues - Released February 24, 2015 | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Born in 1888, Huddie Ledbetter was the son of a sharecropper; he was born on a Louisiana plantation and learned to play guitar after long days working on his father's farm. After he struck out on his own at the age of 16, Ledbetter's life was full of adventures, both good and bad and including a murder conviction, but while in prison he picked up the nickname Lead Belly, and after writing a handful of great songs (and learning a hundred more) that he made his own with his passionate vocal style that melded blues and folk styles and his distinctive 12-string guitar work, he was freed and became one of the most influential folk artists in American music. Lead Belly recorded literally hundreds of songs over the course of his career (including a number of archival sessions recorded for the Library of Congress), and his music would influence a striking array of artists, from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Odetta to Van Morrison, John Fogerty, and Kurt Cobain. The Smithsonian Folkways Collection is a five-disc box set that represents the first attempt to offer a career-spanning overview of the career of a giant of American music, including 108 tracks, 16 of which see their first release on this collection. ~ Mark Deming
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Folk - Released November 24, 2014 | Columbia

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Blues - Released October 24, 2014 | Epic

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Country - Released October 24, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
On first listen, it's not unreasonable to think that writer/producer Dan Penn's 1973 solo debut, NOBODY'S FOOL, is a bit schlocky. The songs are there, but amidst all the studio bombast it's difficult to suss out the deft touch that Penn brought to soul classics like "I'm Your Puppet"and "The Dark End of the Street." To give up too soon, though, would be to neglect what is an ambitious, impassioned attempt to encompass the entire southern musical tradition into a single musical statement. Penn sounds not unlike "Suspicious Minds"-era Elvis on orchestrated R&B tracks like "Time" and "Ain't No Love," and while "Prayer for Peace" sounds like an interlude from a Southern-gothic rock opera, it's clear that Penn means every word of his plea. With the exception of a CCR cover, Penn wrote (or co-wrote) and produced the entire album, and is backed by a crew of Memphis's finest. As is often the case with albums by those who became famous working behind the scenes, NOBODY'S FOOL suffers a bit from excess, as if every idea in Penn's head had to be put to tape immediately. But the man's love of music (all of it: rock, pop, country, gospel, blues, soul, etc.) is so genuine and so blind to categories, one can't help being taken in by this quiet masterpiece.
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Country - Released October 3, 2014 | Sony Special Products

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Billy Joe Shaver slipped onto the recording scene very quietly in 1973. He was already heralded a fine songwriter by Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings, but even they'd recorded one or two songs of his up to that point. After the issue of this debut album, however, the floodgates opened for Shaver with the aforementioned trio and Johnny Cash himself recording Billy Joe's songs -- a trend that continued 30 years later. Old Five and Dimers Like Me reveals a songwriter at the height of his power, a songwriter who undersells his case via quiet melodic music steeped in Texas country, folk, and the blues. While the title track is best known and the most often recorded (Waylon based his entire Honky Tonk Heroes around that track as the basis for an album of Shaver's tunes), each of this CD's 14 songs are gems. "Fit to Kill and Going Out in Style" became an anthem of the outlaw movement, and "Black Rose" echoes the Band's "Cripple Creek" with its funky country shuffle. The old-time honky tonk blues of "Played the Game Too Long" features a Dixieland horn section in the middle, and "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me" became David Allan Coe's theme after "Long Haired Redneck." And "Low Down Freedom" is the most poignantly written song about what it costs others when a man decides he needs to be free. Shaver was a study in contradictions on this album and proved to be so in life as well. He was a big man on the cover, a rough and tumble farmer who liked his music hot and simple and wrote words like a poet laureate. His performances of his own songs have been derided in the past because of the supposed limitations in his voice. But though he may not produce the performance drama that some of his peers can, his versions of these songs are far more poignant than any cover version of them. Shaver has always possessed an elegant and humble sense of dignity; it's on this recording, and on each one that followed. Old Five and Dimers Like Me is a masterpiece not only as a genesis for outlaw country, but of American songwriting at its very best. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released September 5, 2014 | Columbia Nashville Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
In 1973, Tanya Tucker went to the top of the country charts with David Allan Coe's "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)," turning a lot of singers and Nash Vegas executives' heads in his direction. Coe opens 1975's Once Upon a Rhyme with his own version of the song -- a gutsy thing to do for anybody, but then, Coe was always equal parts talent and raw nerve. The amazing thing is that both versions are definitive. But that first track is only the beginning of a truly wondrous journey through the mysterious and poetic sound world of David Allan Coe as both a singer and a songwriter. Produced by Ron Bledsoe and accompanied by some of Music City's finest new-generation session players -- like Charlie McCoy, Buddy Spicher, Reggie Young, and Pete Drake -- Coe follows his opener with another of his inimitable classics, "Jody Like a Melody," with its winding, lilting choruses and ethereal couplets. After the emotional impact of the first two tracks, add two self-penned masterpieces -- "Loneliness in Ruby's Eyes" and "Would You Be My Lady" -- and the listener is left nearly breathless. But with Coe, that's not enough, and he digs deeper emotionally with "Sweet Vibrations" and "Another Pretty Country Song." And brilliantly but inexplicably, he closes the set with three songs that either were, or became part of, the country canon as a result of this recording: Lawton Williams' "Fraulein," Richard Dobson's "Piece of Wood and Steel," and Steve Goodman's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name." The last of these is the only version most people know; it was as if the late Goodman had written it for Coe. His voice wraps itself so completely around the melody that the lyrics run like a river from his mouth, and he becomes the song's protagonist, supported in the weight of his grief by an electric guitar, a fiddle, and a pedal steel slipping in and out of an airy mix that is punctuated by a rhythm section that only underlines the truth in every line. This album and its predecessor, The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, established Coe as a major songwriting force; they remain enduring testaments to his songwriting brilliance as a criminally under-examined talent in the country tradition. ~ Thom Jurek
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Blues/Country/Folk - Released July 22, 2014 | Masterworks

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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Columbia Nashville

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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released June 6, 2014 | Legacy - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography