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 Louder.com to offer further vinyl options for those developing a more serious habit.
- The best record players (you know, for playing records on)
The best records for vinyl noobs (T3's favourites)
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 Sale. View Deal
- Further reading: Louder's best classic rock albums to own on vinyl
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.
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.
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!
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.
- Further reading: Louder's pick of the best 80s albums to own on vinyl
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.
- Further reading: Louder's pick of the best hip-hop albums to own on vinyl
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.
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.