10 Classic LPs for Your Growing Vinyl Collection

The improbable resurgence of vinyl records began around 2007 and hasn’t slowed yet. In 2015, vinyl sales rose 32% to $416 million, their highest level since 1988, the year the format was overtaken by the compact disc. Why is vinyl being embraced by millennials and revisited by older types who sold their collections 20 years ago?

Sure, vinyl has a warm sound and a retro appeal, but there’s something else that makes it ideal for true music lovers: vinyl is wonderfully inconvenient. It forces you to interact with it—to lovingly take an LP out of its sleeve, put it on the turntable and flip it over 25 minutes later. And since skipping tracks is a pain, you’re more likely to listen to an album straight through, with the songs in the order the artist intended.

There’s also the satisfying physicality of records and sleeves, with big, beautiful artwork, liner notes, lyrics and credits, none of which you get with a digital download.

All of this makes vinyl perfect for those who crave a deeper listening experience and a stronger connection with the artists they enjoy.

If you’re looking to start or add to your vinyl collection, consider giving the ten classic albums below a spin. They’re undeniably great on any format, but they beg to be experienced on vinyl. Note: While lots of new music has been released on vinyl in recent years, for this list I’m focusing on the original era when the vinyl LP ruled.

intheweesmallhours

In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra (1955)
With a program of thematically connected songs about loneliness and lost romance, this record is often cited as one of the first-ever concept albums. Timeless tunes from the Great American Songbook, sparkling Nelson Riddle arrangements and Sinatra’s inimitable phrasing combine to create an intimacy and atmosphere perfect for late-night listening.

alovesupremeA Love Supreme, John Coltrane (1965)
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis may be “the one jazz album everyone should own,” but Coltrane’s masterwork is a more cohesive and emotional statement. The album is a four-part original suite born of Coltrane’s gratitude to God, but make no mistake—it’s not churchy or prim. On the contrary, this is deeply felt, deeply swinging, powerful music performed by Trane’s classic quartet, arguably the best band in jazz history. Supreme, sublime, essential music. Continue reading

Unique LP Finds for Vinyl Weekend

While running the other day, I experienced a delightful incongruity as I listened on my earbuds to Duke Ellington’s “Hy’a Sue,” uploaded from a 1940s 78-rpm record onto my computer and added to my digital music playlist.

Not only are the history and breadth of recorded music more widely available than ever, but the adventurous music-lover can explore an array of formats, including tape, vinyl, and digital file. It can make your head spin like a 45.

Of all the listening formats that have come along, the favorite of many (including yours truly) is the vinyl LP record. The long-playing disc was introduced in the late 40s. It flourished in the 60s and 70s, hitting its peak sales year in 1977. Compact disc sales passed LP sales in 1988, and there was a slump for a couple of decades. But now, with the CD format in decline, the 33-rpm LP is back on the rise! Continue reading

Enjoy an LP, and Thank Mr. Edison!

We’ve come a long way since Thomas Alva Edison recited “Mary Had a Little Lamb” into the mouthpiece of his newly invented phonograph machine in late 1877. On February 19, 1878, his phonograph was patented, and, after many twists and turns (uh, revolutions), the vinyl record, pretty much as we know it today, became the most popular format from the late 1940s until the CD came along in the 1980s. And now vinyl is back! Our stores around the country never got out of the record business, and our LP inventory is better than ever.

If you’re a record-lover LP collector or just an enthusiastic neophyte, we’d love to hear from you! Share with us on social using #halfpricebooks and post a photo of your favorite LP with a brief note about why you just have to have this particular album on vinyl.

I’ll start it off. I’m a longtime LP-lover—if not a hardcore collector. It’s hard to pick one favorite among the LPs I own, but a contender would be Belafonte at Carnegie Hall (1959).

belafonte
This is my treasured replacement copy of the first album I ever owned. My brother and I wore it out.

We’d also like to mark the phonograph patent anniversary by featuring a couple of special LPs our stores have just added to their stock.

This box set with 14 LPs is the Japanese release located at the Firewheel store in Garland, TX. It’s in beautiful condition with its certificate of authenticity. You won’t find a better set to commemorate The Beatles’ work. Only one set available. To purchase, contact the Buy Guy. $1,000 plus tax.

beatles

Our Fort Wayne, Indiana, store is offering a high-end recording of Abbey Road. It’s the 1979 pressing on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab/Capitol, a remastered edition of the 1969 album, taken from the original master recording. It was Mobile Fidelity’s first Beatles release. Their copy is in Near Mint condition and is priced $55.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And if you want a treasure by a different Fab Four, our Flagship store has a copy of The Ramones’ Rocket to Russiasigned by the original band members—for $300.

ramones signed

If you’re interested in finding out more about either of these LPs, contact the Buy Guy.

And let us hear from you: Show us on social using #halfpricebooks, the LP you most prize and tell us why it’s essential to your collection!

 

Waxing poetic about LPs

The wax! The tracks! The multi-platinum plaques! Good ol’ vinyl players are making a mega-comeback thanks to digi-turntables. To me, nothing has ever compared to the warm sound of records or the cool, frame-worthy LP cover artwork. The ease of running your thumbnail down the cellophane to open it up, the unforgettable whiff of that crisp, new paper sleeve, the glare of the flawless new disk. It was ceremonial! 

Whenever I peruse the aisles of vinyl at Half Price Books, I can only pine for the ones I wish I’d kept. And there’s a cultish angle to which I must also confess: a never-ending quest for old LPs by local bands with the weirdest names. The “Tux-Tones,” “The Fanatics,” “the Surfside Six.” These were albums pressed and packaged at small, local plants, a lot of them specializing in gospel groups. The Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do doesn’t stray from the truth.

So hail to the pioneers! Half Price Books began in 1972. Here are the top songs:

Position

Artist

Song Title

1

Roberta Flack

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

2

Gilbert O’Sullivan

Alone Again (Naturally)

3

Don McLean

American Pie

4

Nilsson

Without You

5

Sammy Davis Jr.

Candy Man

6

Joe Tex

I Gotcha

7

Bill Withers

Lean On Me

8

Mac Davis

Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me

9

Melanie

Brand New Key

10

Wayne Newton

Daddy Dont You Walk So Fast

11

Al Green

Let’s Stay Together

12

Looking Glass

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)

13

Chi-Lites

Oh Girl

14

Gallery

Nice To Be With You

15

Chuck Berry

My Ding-A-Ling

16

Luther Ingram

If Loving You Is Wrong I Don’t Want To Be Right

17

Neil Young

Heart Of Gold

18

Stylistics

Betcha By Golly, Wow

19

Staple Singers

I’ll Take You There

20

Michael Jackson

Ben

21

Robert John

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

22

Billy Preston

Outa-space

23

War

Slippin’ Into Darkness

24

Hollies

Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)

25

Mouth and MacNeal

How Do You Do

26

Neil Diamond

Song Sung Blue

27

America

A Horse With No Name

28

Hot Butter

Popcorn

29

Main Ingredient

Everybody Plays The Fool

30

Climax

Precious And Few

31

5th Dimension

Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All

32

Moody Blues

Nights In White Satin

33

Raspberries

Go All The Way

34

Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose

Too Late To Turn Back Now

35

O’Jays

Back Stabbers

36

Osmonds

Down By The Lazy River

37

Jonathan Edwards

Sunshine

38

Mel and Tim

Starting All Over Again

39

Badfinger

Day Atter Day

40

Elton John

Rocket Man

 

What’s your best vinyl find? Click here to check out media sales and promotions at your local HPB this month!

— Jim Swayze