By JOHN DALY
Listening to music has long been one of the top forms of entertainment for almost every person on this planet. For many of us, that entertainment is twice as enjoyable when it comes from a vinyl record, spinning on a turntable with the stylus brushing through the grooves.
Vinyl lovers are “old souls” they say, and it’s mainly because of the Rock ‘N’ Roll genre that vinyl is having a remarkable resurgence.
Having a collection of classics from bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin on vinyl is one of the best ways to own custom vinyl records of rock music bands. Pretty darn cool in our opinion.
If you want to enhance your collection of old-school discs, let us introduce to you 10 of the best rock albums that you should own on vinyl.
#1 THE WALL by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album is not the only album that has become recognizable and famous in music history. The English rock band’s eleventh studio album, The Wall, is one of the greatest concept albums of all time.
All 26 tracks of the album tells the story of Pink, a young man who was raised by an overprotective mother. It shows his struggle to break down the walls built by the authoritative people in his life. What made this even better, aside from its relatableness, is the fact that it is based on a real person’s story, Roger Waters, the band’s lead singer and bassist.
Unlike the overall dark colors of The Dark Side of the Moon’s jacket artwork, The Wall’s in a white brick wall. When you open that gatefold jacket, you see pieces of bricks missing and images replacing them. Its two inner sleeves, which hold the black vinyl records, are also printed with white brick walls.
#2 A NIGHT AT THE OPERA by Queen
Queen’s fourth studio album, A Night at the Opera, was the band’s one-way ticket to fame. It cemented Queen’s place as a music royalty. The album is also the most expensive album to ever be recorded at the time of its release, especially since it includes the expensive single “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The album is full of experimental songs from the band as it included a wide range of instrumentations like music hall, hard rock, and ballad styles. The greatly intricate and colorful artwork of the album was printed in a clean white background. The artwork is composed of a lion king and lioness queen, a red crab with fire on top, a white swan, and two fairies all surrounding a blue ribbon forming the letter “Q”, for Queen.
There have been many repressings and reissues of the 1975 album and above are two of them. The white vinyl record was a repressing in 1978 while the galaxy colored one was a reissue in 2018. What’s cool is that there has been no change in the album’s artwork.
#3 LED ZEPPELIN IV by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV also known as “Zoso” was a product of Jimmy Page’s disappointment towards the laid back Led Zeppelin III album. It is one of the hardest rock albums ever recorded showcasing different genres including progressive-rock, medieval folk, psychedelic balladry, and their signature, electric blues.
The vinyl album is a gatefold type jacket with a photograph of a housing project on the backside and a drawing of an old man carrying wheat in a bushel on the front. It houses a plain lilac colored vinyl record.
What awes me aside from the music is the jacket’s artwork. The transition from the back to the front is just too cool especially since it looks very realistic from here.
#4 THE JOSHUA TREE by U2
The Joshua Tree is the Irish rock band’s most celebrated studio album. Four of its singles even had a special vinyl release containing 4 picture discs that each holds a remastered single on one side and their live performance on the other side.
Last 2017, there was a vinyl re-release. The standard edition was pressed in the usual black records while the limited edition was pressed in gold records. The gatefold jacket also comes with a 12”x12” booklet of lyrics, photos and credits.
The subtle addition of the Joshua tree design on both the vinyl record and the inner photograph of the jacket is astonishing. If you don’t observe it really up close, I’m pretty sure you’ll miss it.
#5 STICKY FINGERS by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones’ subject matter for Sticky Fingers is innovative and timeless which got them to receive not so favorable reviews from critics at its initial release. But as time passed by, their tracks from the album, and the message within them became accepted and understood. It talked of drugs, and honesty about sex, race, and violence which are very much relevant in our generation today.
The vinyl album has a single sleeve jacket printed with Mick Jagger’s limbs with his pants on. It houses an inner sleeve printed with red lady lips sticking out its tongue and a black vinyl record. Apparently, it was the debut of that logo and to this day, the logo is miraculously still connected to the band.
#6 AJA by Steely Dan
After 40 years since its release, Aja by Steely Dan still has that audiophile quality according to audiophiles. It apparently has a near-perfect sound on vinyl too, which makes it a perfect candidate for this list.
It’s audiophile quality came from the meticulous recording of the ten hired engineers and the two perfectionist members of the band. Above are two editions of the vinyl album, one is on plain red and the other on yellow-gold record.
The vinyl jacket’s artwork looks very mysterious with its black background and minimal design. When you carefully look at the artwork, you will see a man’s face hidden by what seems like a black hood.
#7 THRILLER by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, though the King of Pop, has one of the best rock albums in music history with Thriller. The album is an infusion of the genres pop, fusion, and punk. The album has nine tracks that are impossibly unskippable.
The initial release of the vinyl format of the album had an edition where the tracks were pressed on picture disc as seen above. Moreover, a reissue of the album for its 25th Anniversary was released in 2008 with another picture disc. In this one we have MJ in red surrounded by undeads.
#8 A TRICK OF THE TAIL by Genesis
Genesis had to say goodbye to their guitarist Peter Gabriel before they could make and release the album A Trick of the Tail. And contrary to popular Genesis-fan opinion, there is no bad song from this album.
The vinyl record is enclosed in a butter cream colored gatefold jacket where different characters are drawn. These characters are apparently the ones representing each character being sung for each track of the album. So while you listen to this album, you can look at the jacket to have some kind of visualization of it.
Another thing to look forward to when listening to this album is the calligraphy-written lyrics on the pages of the album.
#9 TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION by Alan Parsons Project
The album Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a collection of tracks that will take the listener through the journey of the disturbed mind of the eponym of the album. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the greatest authors of the horror genre and with this collection, listeners are drawn into his mind.
The jade green-colored vinyl jacket with a strip of colorful artwork looks great from afar. But when you look closer, you will be shocked to see that there actually is something you can make out of it. It looks very intriguing too and somewhat creepy.
#10 REMAIN IN LIGHT by Talking Heads
Also making the cut is Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, which is a very experimental album. The album infuses rock with African polyrhythms and funk. Electronics, sampled and looped grooves, as well as foot-tapping is included in their tracks.
The weird album cover is something to definitely talk about here. It’s unique, very original and creepy, because who’d think of covering their faces with red Paint-pen with only the eyes, nose and lips showing? Moreover, the negative cover printed on the inner sleeve of the album looks much more sinister.
If you’re into rock and roll music, and especially if you’re also a vinyl addict, I’m sure you’re already holding on to your purse (or credit card). Don’t blame us for it, blame the artists who are releasing really awesome vinyl!