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Audio Exchange Blog

Must-Have Vinyl for Your Growing Collection

by Crawford Moore 17 Jun 2024

There is an undeniable appeal to vinyl records. From the rich, warm sound to classic album artwork, vinyl has been going through a notable resurgence over the past decade. For music lovers and vinyl collectors alike, an impressive vinyl collection can be so much more than just a list of great tunes. It takes you along your musical journey and pays tribute to different eras of your life.

But the question that often lingers on everyone's mind: What are the absolute "must-have" records that deserve rightful spots in every vinyl collection? We have the short answer for you right here:

Infographic depicts our top 5 must-have vinyl albums.
  1. "The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd is an essential album with catchy melodies that continue to enthrall listeners with its impeccable sound.
  2. "A Night at the Opera" by Queen is an album that ruled the Billboard 100 and remains one of the true timeless classics in music.
  3. Marvin Gaye's concept album "What’s Going On" is an expression of his spiritual journey that still resonates with listeners today.
  4. The debut album "Velvet Underground & Nico" was hailed for its innovative sound that captured the complexity of city life, complete with iconic album artwork featuring the banana print from Andy Warhol.
  5. David Bowie's timeless classic, "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars" rounds off our list of 5 must-haves.

Must-Have Vinyl of the '70s and '80s  

The 1970s: The Era of Musical Innovation

The 1970s was a decade that witnessed some of the most innovative and genre-defining music in history. One such timeless masterpiece is the critically acclaimed "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, which we already mentioned in our sneak peak list. It’s not just lauded by critics, but also holds a record for being a favorite among the masses, staying on the Billboard charts for a staggering 17 years.

Next up is Bob Dylan's iconic live album with The Band - "Before the Flood". With gems like "Lay Lady Lay" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," this album paints an authentic and raw picture of Dylan's music, making it an indispensable addition to any vinyl lover's list.

The 1980s: The Decade of Synths and Pop

The 1980s turned the tables with a switch toward synth-pop, setting the base for many modern-day genres. The paradigm-shifting "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, known as an eternal favorite among both critics and fans, encapsulates the spirit of the 80s. Holding the record for being the best-selling album of all time, it goes without saying that this album is a definitive must-have.

On similar lines, "Purple Rain" by Prince is another groundbreaking vinyl from this era that you should not miss. Pairing irresistible synth-pop with rock, gospel, and R&B, this album doubles as the soundtrack to the eponymous movie and is remembered for chartbuster hits like "When Doves Cry."

Finally, we close out the 80s with the game-changing "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits. This album is scientifically crafted with carefully composed melodies and deep, introspective lyrics, making a mark in rock history. Hits like "Money for Nothing" and the title track "Brothers in Arms" are clear examples of music standing the test of time. 

Image is of Brothers in Arm vinyl album cover.

Must-Have Vinyl of the '90s and Early 2000s 

The 1990s and early 2000s picked up where the '80s left off and took music in different directions. This era is known for the rise of Alternative Rock, Hip Hop, Grunge music, and the various sub-genres that have influenced music today.

The 1990s: New Genres, More Noise

Kicking off the '90s is an album that changed the face of hip hop – “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, the debut album of Wu-Tang Clan. Heavily sampled, raw, and gritty, it’s a must-have album for hip-hop aficionados as it encapsulates the essence of East Coast rap.

No vinyl collection of '90s music would be complete without mentioning Nirvana's groundbreaking second album, "Nevermind." The album debuted at number 144 on the Billboard 200 album chart but soon came to be the symbol of a musical generation. The raw energy of songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Lithium" forever etched this album in the annals of music history. 

The Early 2000s: The Evolution of Sound

The early 2000s brought a whole new level of sound to the table with iconic albums such as Radiohead's "Kid A." Venturing into a more electronic sound, it was a departure from their earlier work and is often noted as one of the best albums of the decade.

Furthermore, we have Willie Nelson’s “The Great Divide” album that fuses country music with contemporary pop. With guest appearances by stars such as Rob Thomas, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow, this album showcased Nelson’s ability to reinvent himself while remaining true to his roots. 

Must-Have Soundtrack Vinyl 

Bringing Films to Life Through Music

Great soundtracks traverse the boundaries of films, narrating a story within a story. They enhance the emotional depth of the movie while bringing characters and plot lines to life. Have you ever listened to a silent film? Diving into some iconic film soundtracks, it's impossible not to mention "Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back." Crafted by the legendary John Williams, it's a testament to the power of orchestration, carrying listeners through the epic saga.

Another not-to-be-missed soundtrack is from the animated realm, the "Lion King." This soundtrack brings together the musical talents of Elton John and Hans Zimmer. From playful numbers like "Hakuna Matata" to emotion-packed tunes like "Circle of Life," this album offers quite a range for vinyl lovers to enjoy.

Image is of Empire Strikes Back Japanese vinyl cover.

Get in the Game: Video Game Soundtracks

Transitioning from the silver screen to the digital world of gaming, the "Doom" original soundtrack is a must-have. Mick Gordon's industrial rock and metal compositions make for an adrenaline-pumping music experience, an essential addition for fans of heavier music genres.

While film and game soundtracks may seem unconventional, they capture the essence of their respective movies or games. These soundtracks, with their distinct narrative layers and emotional depth, push the boundaries of the music-listening experience.

Honorable Mentions & Conclusion 

While our sections have covered a few of the most important periods in music history, there are countless more vinyl records that deserve a nod. For instance, a hip-hop game-changer, Kendrick Lamar's "Good Kid, m.A.A.d City: A Short Film." Another must-have is Joni Mitchell's "Blue," which perfectly encapsulates her skill for creating beautiful melodies and thoughtful lyrics, offering a soft accent to a well-rounded collection. Finally, Jack White's "Blunderbuss," is an incredible example of what an extremely talented musician can do on a solo album and therefore is a great addition to your collection.

How Audio Exchange Can Help

Building a vinyl collection that spans multiple eras and genres tells a unique story of musical evolution. However, it can be overwhelming due to the vast spectrum of music to choose from. That is where Audio Exchange steps in – your trusted partner in your vinyl-collecting journey.

With over 45 years of experience in hi-fi audio and video sales, Audio Exchange boasts a vinyl records collection that caters to diverse musical tastes. Whether you're just beginning your vinyl journey or looking to expand your established record collection, we're here to help, offering pieces that are as pleasurable to own as they are to listen to.

Shop vinyl and turntables at Audio Exchange today!

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