So you’ve finally bought yourself a turntable. You’re sitting at home with your headphones plugged in to your sound system, but you've already listened to the one (and only) record you bought like, ten times. It’s now that you quickly realize you’ve caught the record collecting bug, and before you know it you’re back at your local store or staying up late buying records on Discogs.
Lucky for you we’ve spent a good amount of time digging around dusty record stores and put together this comprehensive list of our favorite albums to start your vinyl collection with. Having a diverse record collection is important and we picked our favorite records spanning several genres, decades, and styles for you to add to your personal collection. Check out the list below, and enjoy your quality listening experience!
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon is a must-have for any record collection. Not only does it contain tracks touching on every aspect of life (time, money, death, love, etc.), but you can also turn it on when you're watching The Wizard of Oz - we call that synchronicity. Dark Side stayed on the Billboard top 200 chart for 15 years straight after its release, a record that has still not been broken to this day. Dark Side progresses beautifully as as album, diving into topics everyone deals with and telling a story in a way that few other records have been able to match.
Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear
One of the surprise hits of 2015, FJM's I Love You Honeybear is a self-described "concept album about himself," both deeply personal and highly relatable. As reveiwer Aaron Mook says, "It's easy to see a part of ourselves in Tillman's flawed character, and it's as if we keep listening for some kind of an answer." You owe it to yourself to pick this one up.
Alt-J - This is All Yours
Alt-J's followup to their smash debut, This is All Yours continues the band's trailblazing style, and gives good reason to their anointing as "the next Radiohead." From their innovative use of samples (like using Miley Cyrus on "Hunger of the Pine") to their unmatched guitar riffs (think "Left Hand Free"), we think there's something for everyone on this album.
J Dilla - Donuts
Recently re-released on vinyl, Donuts is J Dilla's frosting-covered masterpiece. Dilla was a skilled sampler, and many of these songs were made on simple drum machines and samplers with minimal storage and control. Not having a studio didn't stop him from making a great album, which was released only 3 days before Dilla tragically passed away. The album is so well known that Dilla’s uncle opened up a donut shop this year in honor of the legendary hip-hop producer.
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Thriller is literally the best-selling album of all time, selling over 30 Million copies in the US alone. That’s certified platinum 30 times! MJ’s movie-like music videos soon became part of the regular rotation at MTV, further cementing this album's all-time great reputation. Thriller is constantly ranked with the best albums of all time, and it’s a must-have for any record collection great or small.
Odesza - In Return
In Return combines Odesza's varied influences into a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Odesza's vision rings clear throughout the album, combining the efforts of numerous collaborators without ever distracting from the group's goal. With over 14 million plays on Spotify, In Return is shaping up to be one of the defining records of the last few years.
Bob Marley - Legend: The Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers
Legend is a best-of album, making it a great starting point to learn about the roots of reggae and its many related genres. It’s the kind of music that you can’t help but feel happy listening to, and people seem to agree: it’s the best selling reggae album of all time. So get up, stand up, and head down to your local record store and find a copy of Legend.
The Postal Service - Give Up
Released February 2003 by Sub Pop Records, Give Up is the Postal Service's only full-length release, and Sub Pop's second platinum-selling album (after Nirvana's Bleach). The group faced controversy when the US Postal Service filed a cease-and-desist letter for "diluting their trademark," only smoothing over the situation by agreeing to perform at a USPS conference.
The Beatles - Revolver
For your first Beatles record, go out and grab yourself a copy of Revolver. It’s a major turning point for the sound of the Beatles, signaling their shift from the "British Invasion" pop-rock sound of their early years to the unstoppable studio-experimenting tour-de-force they became. While classics like "Eleanor Rigby" show the Beatles' songwriting skills at their peak, tracks like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and "I'm Only Sleeping" also featured innovative recording techniques like double-tracked vocals, tape loops, and even reversed guitar sounds.
Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Country artists don't get much better than Sturgill (pronounced stir [like stirring dinner]-gill [like the thing a fish has]) Simpson; already the owner of the best name in country music, with Metamodern Sounds in Country Music he might just have the best album too. Coming on the heels of 2013's High Top Mountain, this album is not just a followup, but a breakthrough. Simpson goes against the grain of traditionalist country, referencing everything from Buddha to Bertrand Russell while still staying true to the Nashville sound that defines him.
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Some records were just meant to be pressed to vinyl, and this is one of them. Music Has The Right To Children is filled with rich, textured layers that continues to influence electronic music today. The album uses several field recordings and intensive audio editing to achieve the unique sounds heard on songs like “Wildlife Analysis” and “Sixtyten”.
Radiohead - Kid A
We couldn't make an essential albums list without including Radiohead. Kid A features chaotic instrumentation and lyrics that were torn up and drawn from a hat, making the album both mystifying and nearly incomprehensible at the same time. Radiohead traded in their guitars for synths, drum machines, brass instruments, and string orchestras for this album - it was a big change in sound for Radiohead, dividing many fans when Kid A was released.
Daft Punk - Discovery
Everybody knows “One More Time”, but have you ever listened in-depth to tracks like “Face To Face” or the downtempo “Nightvision”? If not, it's high time you corrected that. For the full experience, check out Interstella 5555, the movie Daft Punk created with Japanese animator Leiji Matsumoto using Discovery as the soundtrack.
J Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive
When an album debuts at #1, there usually doesn't need to be too much said about it (because everyone else will be doing the talking for you). But in the case of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, it means a little more - this is J. Cole's 3rd studio album, and his 3rd to debut at #1. Who else did that? Snoop Dogg. Also Drake. And DMX. Nelly too. And did we mention Rick Ross? All in all, not bad company.
David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
David Bowie’s 5th studio album was recorded in the persona of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust. This glam rock god acted as a messenger to extraterrestrial beings, and he also gave David Bowie the best haircut of his life. Songs from the album would later be covered in Portuguese by Seu Jorge in the film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
Miles Davis revolutionized music when he eschewed the traditional form of jazz songs and brought in simple sketches and song fragments, confident in his band's abilities to create beautiful art and creating his magnum opus in the process. Featuring legends of jazz such as John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley, he was right to trust the group. Find out today why so many listeners are told, "if you only own one jazz album, make it Kind of Blue."
The White Stripes - Elephant
The White Stripes are often described as “simple” and “hard hitting," but that's part of their charm. Guitarist/vocalist/Johnny Depp lookalike Jack White said the album was made to achieve the idea of going “back to basics," which inspired future musicians like The Black Keys to present rock in its barest, most stripped down form.
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Many people consider Arcade Fire’s debut album Funeral a modern classic, and it's not hard to see why. Songs like “Wake Up” and “In The Backseat” are drenched in emotion, while at the same time maintaining the indie rock feelings that the band always aimed for. Kind of like your teenage years, the album is a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but you'll love every twist and turn along the way.
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Sometimes you just want a record to take you to another time and place, and Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence is the perfect record for when that place is old-school Hollywood (the cool one, with drinking and the mafia). With a title taken from A Clockwork Orange and songs like "Cruel World" and "Pretty When you Cry," Lana covers a lot of ground on this record. Full of blues, soul and strings, after one spin you'll hear why this was one of last year's top-five best selling albums. If you're after money, power and glory, this is the record for you.
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing.....
Endtroducing is the best kind of record - one about records and record stores! DJ Shadow is a wizard when it comes to creative sampling, and his stitched together eclectic beats sound amazing on wax.