Record Store Day: 8 albums to impress your new vinyl-loving friends

Classic rock, soul and pop albums that aren't on every other list of classic records

Record Store Day records

With Record Store Day approaching you might be considering buying a record player, or stocking up on more records or even just thinking, 'Hmm, does my record collection seem quite random and uncool?' Whatever your vinyl situation, we have some tips for you. 

To be honest, if you're over a certain age and/or really into music, you probably have most of these already, so please don't message us to say how unimaginative the selection is. Hey, at least it's not Sgt Peppers, The Eagles' Greatest Hits, Dark Side of the Moon and What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, right?

We've also teamed up with our muso chums over at to offer further vinyl options for those developing a more serious habit.

The best records for vinyl noobs (T3's favourites)

Best vinyl albums: Abbey Road

Abbey Road: conclusive proof that Paul McCartney is dead

1. Abbey Road

The Beatles' late masterpiece

Reasons to buy
+Lengthy suite of classics on B side+Come Together is on it too+Genuinely iconic cover
Reasons to avoid
-Octopus's Garden

• Buy Abbey Road on vinyl from Amazon

The cover, which hippies at the time thought 'proved' that Paul McCartney was dead, is truly iconic, as over-used as that word is. The music is largely brilliant too, with some classic pop songs on side A and the start of the B-side (Come Together, Here Comes the Sun, etc) and then the epic musical sweep and emotional heft of the B side’s closing suite. It'll show off your new record player a treat, anyway. 

By weird coincidence, Amazon has a deal on RIGHT NOW for the White Album aka The Beatles. It's not as good as Abbey Road by hey, enjoy the lavish remastered-and-expanded presentation, and the sultry, 25% discount on normal pricing…

The Beatles White Album (4 LP) | £55.95 | Was £74.60 | Save £18.65
The White Album' (really it's just named The Beatles, ACTUALLY) is a sprawling mess of songs about racoons, madness, rage, love, death and other things. This is the 'super deluxe' re-issue which comes with demos and rough takes of numerous songs, and it's currently 25% off the usual RRP as part of Amazon's Spring SaleView Deal

Best vinyl albums: Physical Graffiti

Die-cut windows and a choice of inner sleeves give you something to play with while awaiting the end of the current Jimmy Page guitar solo

2. Physical Graffiti

Led Zeppelin provide masterclass in heaviosity

Reasons to buy
+Contains Kashmir, Custard Pie and In My Time of Dying+Does not contain Stairway to Heaven
Reasons to avoid
-Quite difficult lining up the inner sleeves with the holes cut in the outer one-What kind of a lousy title is Physical Graffiti? 

• Buy Physical Graffiti on vinyl from Amazon

More advanced studies here with a double album. This used to be a big deal in the 70s although nowadays practically all albums clock in over an hour. Led Zep use the time profitably to show off their full range of musical tricks, from acoustic jams to crushing, blues-rock testosterone fests. Kashmir is arguably the highlight but all the best tracks on Physical Graffiti are testament to what happens when you have four brilliant musicians in perfect step, and still hungry despite being slightly richer than the Queen by the point this was released.

Best vinyl albums: The Who Live at Leeds

The Who Live at Leeds: teeters on the edge of chaos

3. The Who Live at Leeds

The Who hit the north, bringing maximum rock and roll with them

Reasons to buy
+It's the best live rock and roll album ever made+The single-LP version is all killer, no filler
Reasons to avoid
-Full length gig version is only on CD and streaming

• Buy Who Live at Leeds on vinyl from Amazon

Quite like Led Zep, this sees three absolutely incredibly artists, plus Roger Daltrey, working as a perfect unit, but where Zeppelin is all precision and power, The Who in 1970 were more like a riot, sounding like they could dissolve into chaos at any second and yet always powering through. Is Who Live at Leeds the best live album ever? Quite possibly. The vinyl version scores over digital in 2 big ways: 1) it’s more authentic; 2) most of Pete Townshend’s interminable between-songs ‘banter’ is cut. Although having said that, the deluxe CD/streaming reissue, which sees the band play Tommy in its entirety plus a load more absolutely brilliant Who originals, is quite something. 

Best vinyl albums: The Payback

The Godfather of Soul has an offer you can't refuse

4. The Payback

James Brown has soundtrack turned down, wants revenge

Reasons to buy
+Extreme funk awesomeness+One of the most charismatic singers and band leaders ever in full flight+Unusually consistent and well produced for 1970s James Brown
Reasons to avoid
-It's not very widely available and hence expensive-The one token ballad is pretty wimpy

• Buy The Payback on vinyl from Amazon

Soul Brother #1, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown always whips your woofer with his funky jams, but The Payback is probably his best and baddest album. Supposedly, Brown and his band recorded this as the soundtrack to a Blaxploitation film, only to have it rejected. Undaunted, Brown just put it out anyway. The likes of Shoot Your Shot and Stone to the Bone are purest analogue revenge on whatever idiot turned this masterpiece down, but it's the title track that really reigns supreme. James Brown is not a man to cross: he don’t know karate… but he knows kerr-azy. Get back!

Best vinyl albums: Kate Bush vinyl remasters

When you see the price of these 4 remastered triple and quadruple LPs you will be wuthering in shock. Worth it, though…

5. Kate Bush: I, II, III, IV

Remastered vinyl heaven

Reasons to buy
+Lavish but classy presentation+Some of the best music ever recorded
Reasons to avoid
-Rather costly

• Buy Kate Bush vinyl reissues I, II, III, IV at Amazon

Kate Bush vinyl was doing serious business second hand, so stocks ran out and good quality vinyl copies were going for crazy money. But just in time, Kate had everything remastered, pressed onto 180g, virgin vinyl and put in highly desirable boxes. The results are beautifully packaged, sound great, but do present a bit of a quandry for fans as they're not cheap, and if you want Hounds of Love, you will unfortunately have to put up with getting The Red Shoes as well, since they're packaged together. 

That box – volume II – is still the one we'd recommend since it includes Hounds and Sensual World, which are pretty much the pinnacle of 80s pop music. Many fans will want I, however, as it includes Wuthering Heights on the debut album and also The Dreaming, which is absolutely batsh*t crazy beautiful music. Oh, and they'll want III as that includes Kate's astonishing comeback record, Aerial.

So, just take a deep breath and buy the lot, including IV, which is a triple pack of remixes and B-sides.

Best vinyl albums: 12 Reasons to Die

12 Reasons to Die: crazy cover, crazy record

6. 12 Reasons to Die

Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah has vengeance in mind that even James Brown might find a bit strong

Reasons to buy
+One of the best rappers ever over a real, live soul funk band+Is about someone being melted down into records then coming back to claim vengeance from beyond the grave
Reasons to avoid
-Admittedly, some people might find that a bit silly

• Buy 12 Reasons to Die on vinyl at Amazon

Like Goodfellas made into a hip-hop album, but by someone slightly loopy, 12 Reasons to Die is a classic gangster revenge tale. Except it's about a black gangster taking on the Italian mafia, being betrayed and slain and, er, melted down into some records, which allow him to come back from the grave to exact vengeance. Okay. 

Ghostface KIllah was one of the best voices, cleverest lyricists and and most charismatic figures in the legendary Wu Tang Clan but by the time this came out it's probably fair to say his career was not in an awesome place. But with a proper band backing him up, he spins his tales over excellent beats and nostalgia-inducing 70s soul horns, strings and wah-wah guitars. The result is a turntable-punishing concept album par excellence that actually uses the creation of vinyl records as an essential part of its story.

Best vinyl albums: Sticky Fingers

Put it away, granddad!

7. Sticky Fingers

Rolling Stones' dirtiest album (and cover art)

Reasons to buy
+There's classic rock hits like Brown Sugar+And epic experiments such as Sister Morphine+Vinyl cover features actual trouser zip
Reasons to avoid
-That zip will most assuredly wear out

• Buy Sticky Fingers on vinyl at Amazon

The Stones’ best album? Maybe. It's certainly their best vinyl album cover, so long as you can track down the version with the real zip incorporated into the cover, over Mick Jagger’s Y-fronts. Imagine seeing that today. Ew.

The double-LP, Exile on Main Street is most critics' favourite Stones but Sticky Fingers is very tight and features the lascivious southern rock of Brown Sugar, the crushing riffage of Can't You Hear me Knocking and the druggy nightmare that is Sister Morphine. Your new record player will go weak at the knees when you unzip Sticky Fingers.

Best vinyl albums: Computer World

Kraftwerk precisely predicted the invention of the iPad with this album sleeve

8. Computer World

Punishing retro-electronica workout for your new turntable

Reasons to buy
+Exquisitely produced electronic pop and dance gems+Some eternal melodies too+Basically predicted the tech world as it is today
Reasons to avoid
-Despite what Kraftwerk claim, pocket calculators do not really let you, 'beam yourself into the future,' they just do sums

• Buy Computer World on vinyl from Amazon

Yes, chilly electronic music produced by rather cold Germans can sound emotional, warm and beautiful, especially on vinyl. The lyrics of Computer Love predicted Tumblr, while its main melody was copied by Coldplay, of all people. The aggressive beats of Numbers and Pocket Calculator influenced electronic dance and hip-hop artistes for several decades, while the dark tone of It's More Fun to Compute and Home Computer offer a more bleak view of the tech future than their titles would suggest.