Clannad recorded two versions of the traditional tune "Coinleach Ghlas an Fhómair". The more recent version appeared on the album Magical Ring, and it has a clean, pop production. The guitars ring in a spacious room, and Máire Brennan’s voice can be heard clear and unencumbered.
By contrast, an earlier record of the same song on Clannad 2 sounds rough. The guitars dominate the mix, and Máire’s voice is practically in your face. The harmonies feel more organic, and the performance, while still being excellent, feels unpolished.
Obviously, I like the latter version more.
Clannad’s first six albums contained primarily traditional material, and they emphasize musicianship more than studio finesse. In fact, the sound quality of the recordings themselves is pretty primitive. As such, the performances feel more alive than even the most overproduced Clannad pop album. (Hello, Sirius.)
I went through a pretty heavy Clannad phase in the ’90s, but I’ve let go a lot of the band’s pop work. I haven’t let go of any of the traditional albums from the ’70s. Those albums are classics.