WORDS: ANDREW SAMPSON
Vinyl is life.
And in order to live a full life, the following 10 LPs (11 if you include the bonus record) are absolutely essential for all vinyl enthusiasts, to have and to hold and ultimately cherish.
Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel
Writing about old age, ensuing death, youth and disenchantment, Paul Simon along with Art Garfunkel produced Bookends – a counterculture classic of the late 1960s. Including hits “A Hazy Shade of Winter” and “Mrs. Robinson”, the snap, crackle and pop of this record helps to further elucidate and highlight the grisly American life of the late 1960s.
Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
The most recently released LP on the list, Modern Vampires of the City stands tall as an archetypal modern rock masterpiece. Often referred to as the modern-day Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this unconventional record boasts both a sense of modernity (pitch shifting) and antiquity (masterfully written and expertly produced), making it a must-have for vinyl enthusiasts of all ages.
Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
Grandiose, explosive, optimistic and ambitious – are only but a few words to describe Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 classic. Featuring a more pop-orientated take on heartland rock, Bruce both reminisces and contemplates the American Dream, whilst vibrant synthesizers, guitar solos and infectious melodies have you gleefully dancing in the dark…
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
Becoming the first hip hop-orientated album to nab the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1999, Lauryn Hill changed the scope of popular music of the late 1990s. Featuring vicious raps, soulful croons, lovelorn verses and Biblical reasoning, Lauryn released a record that appealed to the masses and brought her widespread acclaim – its induction into the National Recording Registry this year for its “cultural, historic and aesthetic significance” being proof of that.
Come Away With Me by Norah Jones
Norah Jones’ voice is the ultimate treat after a long, hard day of work– its sweet, genuine and sultry demeanour can ease any pain. Come Away With Me is perhaps the most surprising blockbuster seller of the early 00’s (a jazz-centred album having sold over 26 million copies worldwide), but the beauty of the record lies in Norah’s vocal phrasing, strong material and impressive skills as a pianist. A must-have record for long, luxurious bubble baths and lazy Sunday afternoons.
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette
There are few artists who can elicit pain, angst, sarcasm and ire as skilfully as Alanis Morissette. Including hits “Hand in My Pocket”, “You Oughta Know” and the iconic “Ironic”, Alanis and her producer Glen Ballard helped to construct a perfect pop-orientated alternative rock classic.
Back to Black by Amy Winehouse
Amy initiated somewhat of a renaissance with her acclaimed sophomore album. Inspired by girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s, and effortlessly combining rhythm and blues, reggae and vintage soul, Back to Black was a catalyst for ‘old school soul music’ being at the forefront of modern popular culture. Including hits “Rehab”, “You Know I’m No Good”, “Back to Black” and “Love is a Losing Game”, this generational classic inspired artists including Adele, Florence Welsh, Ellie Goulding and more recently Sam Smith, who have all adopted the albums aesthetic with varying degrees of success.
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Ah, Rumours – the album I listened to for a solid six months (nonstop) in my matric year! Everything about this record just works – the stunning harmonies, the lyricism, instrumentation and sonic appeal, constructing a record which showcases the debauched and destructive relationship between band members and the general triumphs and pitfalls of late 1970s popular culture.
Graceland by Paul Simon
Inspired by the cassette tape Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits, Volume II (which included local generes such as isicathamiya and mbaqanga), Paul Simon ventured to the motherland to work with top local musicians and ultimately record the classic that is Graceland. Mixing South African genres with pop and rock music, and working alongside Ray Phiri, Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo to produce hits like “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “Homeless”, Paul both revitalised his career and put South African music on the map.
Blue by Joni Mitchell
Using nothing more than an Appalachian dulcimer, acoustic and bass guitar, piano and slight percussion, Joni crafted the most exquisite and authentic heartbreak album of all time – an album which every vinyl enthusiast should own. Including classics “River”, “A Case of You” and “California”, Blue has become a milestone for artists (from many genres) who wish to successfully combine poetry, emotive vocals and minimal instrumentation to create something that is truly timeless. Unfortunately or fortunately, there is only one Joni Mitchell.
Baduizm by Erykah Badu
Released during the height of the ‘neo soul’ movement of the late 1990s, Erykah Badu (often referred to as the modern day Billie Holiday) effortlessly fused jazz, hip hop and 1970s soul, and showcased her vocal chops and forward-thinking artistic vision on singles “On & On”, “Next Lifetime” and “Other Side of the Game”, placing herself at the forefront of the genre along with contemporaries D’Angelo, Maxwell and Lauryn Hill.