by rick olivares
As an old-time music fan, audiophile, and collector, the return to popularity of vinyl records has been a welcome development.
As early as in sixth grade, I would save my allowance and on weekends do some extra work like delivering newspapers around the neighborhood and selling this magazine called, “TV Times”. The money I earned I placed in this juniors savers bank account while most I used to buy my records which sold anywhere from P21-24 for single albums and P45-48 for double LPs.
The first time I ever went abroad and that was in Hong Kong and I was in second year high in 1983, I purchased U2’s “Boy” and “War” albums which I incidentally still have and are in great shape today.
Eventually, through that decade, I amassed a collection of several hundred LPs. Ironically, when I began working, I stopped buying vinyl records as different priorities came to fore. More so when compact discs became popular and I shifted because of storing concerns. I eventually moved abroad and over time, lost much of that collection with less than 50 of them remaining.
In the last few years, it started out while on vacation – coincidentally, in Hong Kong – and I purchased a new vinyl copy of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Legend”. Then a friend of mine gifted me with one of those portable turntables. Ultimately, it led to me getting a proper and new turntable after my old one was in terrible shape after decades of disuse and poor maintenance.
While I have no desire to get back my old collection to what it once was – and that is impossible as most of them were original American and British pressings – I’m fine with picking up a few stuff that I totally enjoyed listening to on vinyl.
It seems timely that in a recent interview with U2 guitarist the Edge in Rolling Stone magazine, he said of his love for vinyl: “I’m aware that sales of vinyl records are going through the roof. It’s just crazy to see that. That speaks about so many things about what the artifact, the object of a vinyl record signifies to people versus a digital download, a file. People in the end, have an emotional connection with a great record and with the artist.”
Well said. And here are five albums that have a great emotional connection with me and that I loved playing on my turntable and what new audiophiles should try.
Steve McQueen – Prefab Sprout (originally released in 1985)
One of my all-time favorite bands with a remarkable tune and wordsmith in Paddy McAloon. Love the intricate and multi-layered songs that sound great on vinyl. It’s like every time I listen to the album, I hear something new. It helps that perhaps save for “Faron Young” that I always skip and unfortunately opens the album, all are fine pop concoctions.
Synchronicity – the Police (originally released in 1983)
When testing out my new turntable, amplifier, and speakers, I pulled out the Police’s fifth and final album, “Synchronicity”. The track that I played was “Wrapped Around Your Finger” which is perfect for its high and low dynamics.
The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (originally released in 1973)
This album by these British art-prog rockers makes a case for why vinyl was always a great format for music. There’s that great album art by Hipgnosis and some great music that at the time made use of novel approaches such as loops and multi-track recordings. And speaking of music, “Money” is a great starting off track for a side two.
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye (originally released in 1971)
The eleventh album by Gaye was a concept album where every song flows into one another and is about the point of a view of a returning Vietnam War veteran. It’s powerful. You sit down and just listen. Even four decades after this album came out, the songs and the lyrics remain strong and sound just as timely as ever.
Souvlaki – Slowdive (originally released in 1993)
This album came out in the post-New Wave era when alternative had taken over. Slowdive was one of those dreampop/shoegazer bands that came out when 4AD Records made the weird fashionable. And this kind of music just shines on vinyl.
Obviously, there are more records that will make any list as perfect choices on vinyl. But these are stuff that I enjoyed years ago and are once more on heavy rotation on my turntable at home.