Best of the Best Vinyl Albums
20 essential albums to own on Vinyl… putting this article together has certainly been the source of many a heated discussion here in the Record Player Pros office that’s for sure! Choosing just 20 of the best vinyl albums out of decades of timeless music, classic LP’s, countless genres, old and new has been no easy feat but here it is… After days of deliberation (to put it lightly), here is our 20 must have Lp’s to listen to in all their waxy glory. Enjoy 😉
The Beatles – Abbey Road
You just can’t have a best vinyl album list without a Beatles record, the only question… which one?? Sargent Pepper’s could have easily made the list, The White Album too but we have gone for Abbey Road. The last studio album recorded by The Beatles is evidence that they really did end in their prime. An album full of classics from the cool and cocky sound of Come Together to the beautiful and dream like Something. Truly a great piece of work from one of the greatest bands of all time.
Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase
Boards of Canada are two Scottish brothers who create there music in a bleak yet beautiful reclusive environment. Always a sense of mystery surrounding them as they make moody atmospheric and thought provoking musical soundscapes. They’ve mastered and created a truly unique sound using old school analogue methods and layering samples as well as live instrumentation and lyrics. With tracks designed to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and contemplation, this album is a beautifully crafted piece of work.
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Legend
The Legend that is Bob Marley and the album titled as such. Jam packed with classic after classic, Marley’s hard hitting and powerful lyrics on oppression, love, life, unity and freedom intertwined with ingenious musical arrangements and feel good skanks is a mandatory addition to anyone’s record collection. We were hoping to avoid compilation albums on this list but as the article is titled “essential” albums, if you only own one Bob Marley album… this is the one for you. (honorary mention: African Herbsman, another incredible album)
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
The debut album of singer/song writer Justin Vernon. Interestingly Vernon wrote the album in the wilderness and isolation of his fathers remote hunting cabin, never intending for it to hit the ears of the general masses. This you can hear in the delicate sincerity of the lyric and the layer upon layer of Vernon’s falsetto melodies. It is a beautiful yet haunting folk infused record, and one for those days spent gazing out the rain drizzled window contemplating the beautiful puzzle that is life.
Bonobo – Black Sands
Bonobo is possibly one of the most underrated artists out there. Hailing from the UK he has released 6 flawless studio albums, not a single duff track to be found. His musical style has progressed from one album to the next, always keeping ahead of the times. His combination of heavy trip-hop/electronic beats and bass with beautifully arranged organic instruments and worldly melodies is exquisite. Expect soaring thought provoking tunes, beautifully produced and perfectly delivered.
Buena Vista Social Club
A super band consisting of the most prolific Cuban musicians, formed by the legend himself, Ry Cooder, this project was destined to be a success. Oh my what a success it was and still is. Ry Cooders original plan was to combine the best Cuban musicians with the best from Mali, West Africa. Issues with visas led to the abandonment (temporarily) of the Mali/Cuba fusion, so instead this Cuban masterpiece was born. Get your salsa shoes out for this one, as the moment you lay needle to wax, you are sure to be transported to the exotic, dusty, warm streets of Cuba.
Feist – The Reminder
Feist. The Canadian born and bred singer-songwriter has really nailed it with this record. Some may be surprised to see her here on a list of the very best vinyl albums, but we feel shes well and truly earned her spot. Indie-folk with an impeccable jazzy vocal, at times soft and delicate, other times raspy and raw. Feist has an incredible amount of control over her voice, and has written a beautiful, quirky and emotive collection of songs. Recorded clean and crisp, The Reminder on vinyl sounds so clear you feel as though Feist is right there next to you. Beautiful.
Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
Frank Sinatra, a man who needs no introduction. I personally love listening to these old classic artists on a record player, listening to the comforting crackle and hearing it as it was intended. This particular record many argue was the first concept album. Coming at a time when most thought Sinatras career was over, having split from his label and feeling more alone then ever. This album has a cohesive style, mood and theme, and was revolutionary in the medium of the larger 12″ vinyl. Kick back and relax to this crooning classic.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love
Jimi Jimi Jimi, what a legend! One of the pioneers of experimenting and creating ways to utilize that raw electric distorted ‘turn it up to 11’ sound. The backing track to the free spirited, free loving 60’s. This record sandwiched between his most popular albums, Are You Experienced and Electric Lady Land, is one of those that is just sooo satisfying to listen to. Beginning to end, side A to side B it is raw, dirty, noisey, yet Jimi is starting to experiment a bit with his guitar style, touching even on a slightly jazzy undertone at times. Great record, certainly one of the best vinyl.
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Now this record by Joni Mitchell is just so darn lovely to listen through on vinyl. A folk masterpiece which is the quintessential confessional singer-songwriter album. Bitter sweet at heart, Joni Mitchell takes you on a poetic story like tale of love, loss and everything human. Often bright and angelic, her voice skips around rhythmically like a sparrow darting through the summer sky. Beautifully recorded, beautifully written and beautifully performed.
You can find all of these albums on the extremely handy Amazon vinyl store.