While vinyl has not been the preferred method of listening to music for several decades, the format has never entirely disappeared and many music fans still swear by it as the best possible format when it comes to quality. Maybe you’re interested in checking out this whole “record” thing, but you have no idea where to start.
We have some recommendations on must-have vinyl if you're just getting started or are looking to fill out your record collection.
Revolver – The Beatles
There’s a federal statute that requires you to purchase at least one Beatles record when starting a record collection. While we could have filled this entire list with Beatles albums, we decided to limit it to this one. From the string heavy “Eleanor Rigby” to the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the outright bonkers ‘Yellow Submarine,” Revolver covers the gamut of musical styles, which makes it a great option for your vinyl sampling.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – David Bowie
Much like picking a single Beatles album, picking just one from the late, great David Bowie seems like an insane prospect. However, Ziggy Stardust may be the eclectic singer at his best. There isn’t any other glam rock on the list, so where else are you going to get it?
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Quite simply one of the best pop music albums of all time. Whether it’s the guitar picking on “Never Going Back Again” or the transportive piano on “Songbird,” there’s plenty to absorb you here. This album should be in every music collection of any kind, not simply vinyl.
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
You probably know the title track well, but you may not know the rest of What’s Going On. A fantastic soul music album that’s going to let you hear what solid bass is supposed to sound like when you’re hearing the music and not simply the walls vibrating. An album that is both relaxing and thought provoking. Give it a listen.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s Thriller. It’s Michael Jackson at his absolute best and it’s the album that made him the king of pop. You may know it well, but listening to it in vinyl might just some reveal some aspects of the music you’ve never heard before. Besides, when was the last time you actually listened to the album all the way through? Fix that.
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
Your collection needs jazz. While some might look to John Coltrane for their jazz album of choice, we’re going to call Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue the single greatest jazz album ever made. There we said it. It is, and you should own it. This is not an album to put on in the background. This is jazz to be experienced.
Dark Side Of the Moon – Pink Floyd
One of the reasons that music fans have decried the rise of digital music is because it has damaged the album as a single piece of artistic expression. Sometimes a song by itself simply doesn’t convey its importance to the whole unit. Dark Side of the Moon needs to be experienced as a complete album more than almost any other. With or without The Wizard of Oz.
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
While we included Revolver on this list instead of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (an oversight you’re welcome to remedy yourself) it would be criminal not to include the album that was a response to that record. While The Beach Boys signature harmonies are here, they’re not singing about surfing here. Brian Wilson was a musical genius and if you don’t believe that they you really need to listen to this album.
Purple Rain - Prince
Maybe we’re still in mourning, but there’s a distinct lack of 1980’s music on this list, so we’re going to remedy that with the album that put Prince on the map for most people. There may be no better song to ever open an album than “Let’s Go Crazy.” It sets the tone for a fantastic album which showcases Prince’s magical ability to play a guitar. The album is the shortest on this list, but no note is extraneous. It’s an example of how less can certainly be more.
1989 - Taylor Swift
Did you know they’re still making records of new albums? I know, right? The popular thing to do these days in hate on Taylor Swift but we can’t help but feel that 1989 is going to be an album that people will remember decades from now. If you come to it with an open mind, we think you’ll agree. If you can’t bring yourself to buy a Taylor Swift album, you can also pick up Ryan Adams cover of the entire album in the same format. It’s pretty damn good too.
Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 - Various Artists
We’re going to cheat a little bit with this one. We need to add a bunch of great pop music to your collection, we’re going to kill several birds with one stone with this modern collection that used the tunes to great effect as part of a science fiction movie. No album title has ever been more accurate. This is one awesome mix that you’ll love.
Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
If you know Daft Punk then you know then as the slightly otherworldly duo responsible for the Electronic Dance Music that keeps repeating itself in your head. While Random Access Memories isn’t completely without some of that EDM flavor, it’s a lot more than that. A number of guest musicians blend their own styles into Daft Punk’s digital sound to create something completely unique. The fight between analog and digital will go on, but the two live together in harmony here.