Must Have Classic Vinyl Recordings

Retro Vinyl For Any Collection

This is a fairly arbitrary list of what I consider to be important classic vinyl recordings to have as a core component of any collection. And yes – most of them are moldy oldies heard on any AOR station in the world a million times. But every once in a while it is important to take the time to pull out that classic record, cue up the turntable and listen to the entire album again, to remember why it is was important in the first place.

As an example I may not listen to Bruce Springsteen for a year at a time – I find most of his newer
material, well “meh”. He is still a great lyricist and singer, but it just doesn’t have the urgency and raw passion of his early releases. When I put on “Born to Run” it brings back a time of musical awakening – this was exciting and life altering stuff. Or at least it was for me.

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (The River Tour, Tempe 1980)

In No Particular Order

As mentioned in the “About” section, I don’t necessarily like to put things in “buckets” or specific genres of music, it feels limiting – like when you are talking about someone like Prince (RIP) for instance. He could and did play anything, from funk to pop to rock. His guitar work rivaled any hard rock guitar hero and his sense of rhythm was second to none. So to put him in one category is unfair to his legacy.

For these reasons I have put all of these key recordings in one table, which I will continue to add to in the future as there are endless worthy candidates. Please suggest any other albums you consider also important to modern rock music, it doesn’t have to be “rock” per se, as much as an influence on all popular music of this and the last century. There are many blues, jazz and country albums that have had a big impact on rock acts that may not always get their due credit. As well, rap is a musical form that has not only been influenced by these other forms but also integral in informing modern pop and rock.

In this table, besides a link to review the purchase options on the album cover, I have linked to an original review of the album itself, if I could locate it. Often this is Rolling Stone, because although they are not what they used to be as a music publication, back in the day the reviews were usually pretty decent.

However, for example, for Bob Dylan there are so many legendary albums, I chose my favorite and linked to a review list of all his releases. There have been so many words written about these artists and their music, I don’t think there is a lot more to say except how each of us individually relates to their music.

CoverArtistAlbumFive word summary
Bruce SpringsteenBorn To RunUrgent street poetry with guitars
PrincePurple RainBaby I'm a star
Bob DylanThe Freewheelin Bob DylanStart of the Dylan legend
NirvanaNevermindMuch more than just grunge
Guns N RosesAppetite for DestructionDirty, sleazy awesome hard rock
Bob Marley and the WailersLegendThe reggae master's best jammin
Jimi HendrixAre You Experienced?Stratospheric guitar master's sonic masterpiece
Allman Brothers BandAt Fillmore EastThe pinnacle of Southern rock
The DoorsThe DoorsDark mystical beat poetry rock
FNM Angel DustFaith No MoreAngel DustEclectic genius, influence often overlooked
The Eagles Hotel CaliforniaLove em, hate em, classic
U2The Joshua TreeSpiritual and political arena rock
Fleetwood MacRumoursPain and anger made gold
The ClashLondon CallingPolitical English punk rock triumph
Pink FloydThe WallIndulgent, bombastic slide into darkness
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IIMighty, enormous blues-rock blueprint
AC/DC Back in BlackTragedy turned into crunching comeback
James BrownGreatest HitsFunk master at his greatest
The ReplacementsTimShambling, often brilliant lyrical rock
Green Day DookieTight loud pop punk revival
Paul SimonGracelandGroovy world music, sharp lyrics
Husker Du Zen ArcadeHusker DuZen ArcadeTwo record midwestern punk opera
Boston BostonBostonBostonDebut album defines "classic" rock
frampton comes alivePeter FramptonComes AlivePrototypical 70's, underrated guitar master
sex pistolsSex PistolsNever Mind the BullocksPunk anarchy in the UK

Extraneous Commentary

  • Purposely I have only included one album from each artist listed, obviously most of these artists have multiple classic recordings. I listed my favorite, and/or most important.
  • I haven’t included any Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, and a few others – though there is no doubt they should be in any classic rock album list. The fact is, if you don’t have them already, you never will. Besides not being a huge fan myself, I just felt it wasn’t necessary.  Of course you could say that about Led Zeppelin also, but hey, it’s my list.
  • It is quite interesting to read reviews of some of these albums through the filter of time and hundreds of hours of listening. For example, the Rolling Stone review of “Nevermind” wasn’t exactly raving (“If Nirvana isn’t onto anything altogether new, Nevermind does possess the songs, character and confident spirit to be much more than a reformulation of college radio’s high-octane hits” – four stars).

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