This year, sales of vinyl has hit a 25 year high. Not since the original Bush sat in the Oval Office have this many units been sold.
Many have speculated as to why we are seeing this resurgence of vinyl sales, though it is most likely due to the fact that playing a vinyl record allows you to better experience an album the way it was intended to by the artist. With streaming and digital options, we primarily listen to playlists with an ease of skipping ahead with just a touch. The vinyl experience is intended for those who love albums, not tracks. Add to this the art form of album art and a more organic sound, and it’s easy to see why sales of this format and turntables have become the norm.
So if you already have a collection or have decided to make the leap and purchase a turntable, here are the essential albums that everyone should have.
Exile on Mainstreet – The Rolling Stones
Of course Exile makes its way on every every top album list – and for good reason. This is the greatest rock n’ roll bad of all time at their peak. The album isn’t just great playing but even better are the quality of the songs. To release this good of a double album with no filler from top to bottom says it all.
Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul
Aretha is perfect for vinyl. She proves that the greatest instrument around is her own voice. This album is worth if only to hear “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman”, written by the great Carole King. Perfect for a Saturday night or a Sunday morning.
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
The second album by the boys is often argued to be their greatest. Released in 1989, it was the first album the Boys used the Dust Brothers and that collaboration resulted in what is often referred to as the Sgt. Pepper’s of hip-hop.
Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
Adams’ first solo album after the breakup of his band Whiskeytown found an artist on top of his songwriting game. With more reserved production and playing, Adams created one of the best alt-country albums ever made – if not THE best.
Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!
At a time when rock n’ roll was starting to take the country by storm, Sinatra started the next act of his career with this classic. With swingin’ tracks like “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, the vibe and performance by Sinatra and his band is pure classic.
Elton John – Honky Chateau
The album isn’t populated with hits, but Honky Chateau may be the best example of a pure album by Elton. Without the flash of his later wardrobe and stage, Honky Chateau had Bernie and Elton in perfect sync with songs such as “Rocket Man” and “Mona Lisa’s & Mad Haters” and make it a one of his best albums.
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Davis had a peak phase in the late fifties and early sixties with Porgy and Bess, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain. Take your pick from any one of these albums, but my favourite is Kind of Blue, which I feel was Davis at his best. It was pure, free and collaborative jazz at its finest.
Derek and the Dominoes – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Eric Clapton seemed to be in a different band each week. But when he fell in love with Patti Harrison, his best friend George Harrison’s wife, it almost drove him insane. The result was his best album of blues and unrequited love songs. Add to the mix his interplay with Duane Allman’s slide guitar and you’ll appreciate the art of making albums again.
The White Stripes – Elephant
Jack White has been the greatest keeper of the flame for blues-based rock n’ roll over the last 15 years. Elephant is the fourth album by band and saw them move beyond limiting songs to include just guitar and drums. Filling in bass and keyboard to songs such as “Seven Nation Army” and “The Hardest Button to Button” resulted in their biggest commercial success and a Grammy nomination for album of the year.
B.B. King – Live at the Regal
If the Beastie Boys made the Sgt. Pepper’s of hip-hop, then B.B. is credited for making the Sgt. Pepper’s of blues. Recorded in Chicago in 1964, selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. More importantly, “How Blue Can You Get?” will make you cry in your beer.
Otis Redding – The Very Best of Otis Redding
King to Aretha’s Queen of Soul is without a doubt Otis Redding. Tragically killed in a plane crash at the young age of 26, Redding voice had the ability to be powerful and tender at the same time. His best known song is “(Sitting on the )Dock of the Bay” which became a hit after his death, but Try a Little Tenderness is one of the greatest tracks ever recorded – by anyone.