2021 was one of the biggest years for vinyl in quite some time, seeing the highest vinyl sales for 30 years. More than 5 million vinyl were sold last year and it’s a trend that is showing no sign of stopping anytime soon. With this industry growing at such a huge rate there has never been a better time to get into vinyl, but it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start with so many brilliant albums. With that in mind, the team have put together a list of 10 essentials to get your collection started.
Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
An absolute classic to start off with. Dark Side of the Moon is somewhat unique as an album as it is difficult to listen to its songs individually with them all having been designed to be part of a single cohesive project with tracks bleeding into one other and even overlapping in some cases. Featuring a strange, ethereal, mystical sound, the album is almost otherworldly in its construction and is something that really needs to be listened to be understood. Adding in possibly the most iconic piece of album art ever created is just the cherry on the top.
Quadrophenia – The Who
A musical experience that needs to be heard. Quadrophenia tells the story of Jimmy, a young mod in London struggling with identity and mental illness. Quadrophenia’s crowning achievement is its ability to express the themes of youthful rebellious spirit interacting with the cold reality of the world and mental illness with incredibly well orchestrated and layered songs.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars – David Bowie
The best way to experience David Bowie’s androgenous rock star from another planet. Bowie’s penchant for reinventing his sound makes it difficult to pin down just one album above all others but, for my money, the one that captures the legendary singer’s vibe the best is this masterpiece. The album which introduced Ziggy Stardust to the masses, Rise and Fall features some of Bowie’s most iconic tracks, such as ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Starman’, ‘Moonage Daydream’ and of course, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ making it almost compulsory listening for any self-respecting music fan.
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
This was the most difficult album to make a decision on. It was obvious from the start that any list of essential albums needed to include a Beatles album, but the question remained, which one? There were many strong contenders for this spot, Revolver (quite possibly the greatest Beatles album), Abbey Road, (one of the most iconic albums ever), but in the end the honour was given to the 1967 masterpiece Sgt Peppers. It’s not necessarily the quality of its songs or its iconic status that lands it this spot but rather its condensation of the band that created it.
Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
An album that completely defines its decade, Are You Experienced is the very definition of ‘psychedelic’ with the term emanating from every aspect of its production, from the colourful and cursive album art to the manic musicality. Featuring Hendrix classics like ‘Fire’ and ‘Purple Haze’ the band’s debut album captures a moment in time unlike any other body of music out there, transporting the listener back to Woodstock and acting as a time capsule for a musical era that has passed us by.
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys
A more recent offering but no less iconic, this debut album from the legendary Sheffield foursome remains the definitive way to experience the UK’s indie scene. Containing some of the genres greatest songs such as ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ and ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ alongside some underrated gems like ‘Riot Van’ and ‘A Certain Romance’ this is one collection not to miss.
Nevermind – Nirvana
Whilst many may only be familiar with Nevermind as ‘the album with Smells like Teen Spirit on it’ the reality of this cornerstone of Seattle grunge is much deeper. Nevermind is a collection of Nirvana at their absolute best containing ‘In Bloom’, ‘Come As You Are’, ‘Lithium’ and, of course, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, to name only a few. This is all without mentioning the album’s iconic artwork that has found a second life being plastered over the walls of misunderstood teenager’s bedrooms. In the end, the case for Nevermind being an essential for your collection is quite simple, if you’re into grunge, why settle for anything other than the best?
Bringing It All Back Home – Bob Dylan
Dylan’s acoustic blues at its very best, Bringing it All Back Home houses many of the musicians most iconic tracks alongside some of his greatest hidden gems. Bringing together the soft melancholic sound of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ coupled with the folksy sound of ‘Maggie’s Farm’ and this is all before ever considering the inclusion of what is, in my opinion, the singer’s greatest track ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, a fast paced acoustic rollercoaster of a song, as Dylan rattles off lyrics with lightning fast speed that you will only appreciate more when you take the time to understand their meaning. Whilst the heavy hitters will no doubt attract the most attention, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ also contains delightful surprises such as the rustic sound of ‘Outlaw Blues’ and the almost poetically pleasing ‘Love Minus One’ making it simply the best way to enjoy the legendary Bob Dylan.
White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
Many would name ‘Elephant’ as the Detroit duo’s greatest work, but for this list recognition is being given to this underrated gem. White Blood Cells is the band’s greatest exploration of the folk blues genre, resulting in the classic tracks of ‘Hotel Yorba’ and ‘We’re Going to be Friends’ whilst retaining some of the indie garage that made them so iconic. Indeed, an argument could be made for ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’ being the band’s greatest embodiment of this sound before they began experimenting with stadium pleasing rock. This all makes White Blood Cells the Jack and Meg album to add to your collection.
King of the Delta Blues Singers – Robert Johnson
Whilst blues isn’t the most popular musical variety around in the present day, it is hard to overstate how important the genre is to the development of the art form we know today. Titans of the industry such as The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac have all been directly influenced by the genre and one musician in particular, Robert Johnson. For your introduction to this musical maestro you couldn’t do better than ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’. Featuring definitive songs such as ‘Terraplane Blues’ and ‘Hellhound on my Trail’ as well as some underrated tracks and personal favourites such as ‘They’re Red Hot’ and ‘Me and the Devil Blues’, this album earns its place as one of the bedrocks of music history.