Are vinyl records worth collecting?


I am going to admit that I am a big Spicegirls fan. There you go. Let the laughter begin.

But before then, let me explain. Music for me is tied to certain important points in my life. When I was just a struggling student, Gerry and the gang provided me some upbeat motivation to carry on the arduous journey of studying. But that is only one part of the story. The other is my fascination in collecting these wonderful bits of music history in the form of vinyl records.

I started collecting after my father inspired me to do so. “Miss my music,” he said and off I went to search for 80s and 90s records. The search broaden to jazz records and I am proud to say that it’s gone up to over 1000 of them. But the vinyls got overtaken by CDs and it was history. Similar to cassette tapes, they were eventually replaced but the music continued. remember the walkman anyone? And CDs were replaced by digital. Technology moves ahead but there is an argument whether analog sounds better than digital. The warmth of the analog sound just cannot be replaced. Right from the crackle when the needle hits the record to when it is playing with all the skips and trips. But then again, it could all be in my mind.

Other than the Jazz standards, as part of the challenge set by my father, I have been trying to locate some of the key records of the 80s and 90s. Remember Wilson Phillips, Belinda Carlise, Bros, Cathy Dennis, Rick Astley, Michael Learns to Rock? Well, I do. Due to the transition of the music to cassette tapes and CDs, these are increasingly difficult to find.

If you want to start collecting, my only advice is to do it for the music and not for the value. Defeats the whole purpose somewhat if you are looking at it as an investment.

Read the excerpt from the Telegraph and the top 36 records to collect shown below that gives you a bit of a push to start. Let’s keep the music going.

Let’s Chat: what was your favorite record or album of the 60s or 70s or 80s or 90s? Tell me what you want, what you really really want. 

 Part of my nostalgia series.

Top 36 Records to Collect

Classic Rock

“The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie


(Added 2/18/16)

Embarrassingly, the first time we ran this article, the man, myth, and legend Sir David Bowie was absent. I take full responsibility for the mistake. Ziggy Stardust served as my first introduction to Bowie’s work, and “Five Years” will forever be close to my heart. But Bowie’s work spans far and wide, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of his other works here as well: “Young Americans” possibly got more people dancing in the seventies than any other record at the time, while “Blackstar” offers a look into the last musical moments of the Star Man, and was released just days before his death. It became his first album to go number one.

Rest in peace Bowie. Thanks for everything.

Buy it: $19.84


“Abbey Road” by The Beatles


What it is: The eleventh studio album released by The Beatles and a strong contender for the title of “Greatest Album of All Time”.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Simply put, your collection is incomplete without it. Side two is arguably the greatest 22 minutes of music ever recorded, though I’ll acknowledge that claim comes with a healthy dose of personal bias. But regardless of my taste you should own it to serve as a reminder of what an amazing band The Beatles were, and so one day your kid can listen to it on vinyl.

Buy it: $21.84.

“Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys


What it is: The second greatest album of all time, according to Rolling Stone.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Full disclosure, before sitting down to write this I hadn’t heard “Pet Sounds front to back in close to a decade, and even then I probably listened to it only once or twice. But while writing this I’ve listened to it three times straight, and, oh man, you should own it on vinyl. There are so many sounds on this record, and I’m not even trying to make a joke there. Just little noises that hit your ears in weird ways that you can tell Brian Wilson spent eternities perfecting. Super fun.

Buy it: $18.98.

“Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie Wonder


What it is: Album of the Year in 1977

Why you should own it on vinyl: From Chris Jones’ 2008 review for BBC: “If you don’t own it, buy it tomorrow. Life, literally, isn’t complete without it.”

Buy it: $14.90.

“Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd


What it is: The source of the most ubiquitous album cover art of all time.

Why you should own it on vinyl: So you’re ready when your son discovers Pink Floyd is the greatest band of all time.

Buy it: $27.76.

“Greetings from Asbury Park” by Bruce Springsteen


What it is: Springsteen’s first album and a release of just about every emotion he had felt up until that point in his life.

Why you should own it on vinyl: It’s a complete album that does everything from celebrating life to questioning the unfairness of death come too soon. “Greetings has songs to dance to, songs to make out to, and songs to cry to, which is pretty impressive seeing as there are only nine tracks on the record.

Buy it: $22.99.

“Darkness on the Edge of Town” by Bruce Springsteen


What it is: Springsteen’s fourth album and the 151st greatest album of all time, according to Rolling Stone.

Why you should own it on vinyl: First, because there should just always be room for another Bruce record in your collection. More specifically, “Darkness is a step back from the collective wall of sound of “Born to Run which preceded it, allowing for each member of the E Street Band to shine. “Adam Raised a Cain” is Bruce at his Bruciest, and “Prove It All Night” is a triumph for the whole band.

Buy it: $24.69.

“Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac


What it is: Album of the Year in 1978

Why you should own it on vinyl: “Rumours” features some of the best vocal harmonies ever recorded. I’ve long argued that this record should continue to win Album of the Year every year until something takes its spot. By my count, it’s still undefeated.

Buy it: $21.43.

“Aja” by Steely Dan


What it is: Steely Dan’s sixth album and their first to go platinum.

Why you should own it on vinyl: It’s probably your dad’s favorite record.

Buy it: $30.

“Graceland” by Paul Simon


What it is: The combined result of Paul Simon dealing with depression and being inspired by South African music; Album of the Year in 1987.

Why you should own it on vinyl: This might be the prettiest album on this list. The South African influence on Simon’s music provide a ton of fun sounds ears weren’t used to hearing at the time and still might be new to you: tinny yet bright guitars, a healthy dose of accordion, and smartly syncopated percussion, all combined with Simon’s talent for organizing harmonies and lyricism. It’s a wall of sound like few that came before it.

Buy it: $20.10.

“Purple Rain” by Prince


What it is: Prince being Prince.

Why you should own it on vinyl: With how large a character Prince exists as within culture, it’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s one of the greatest guitar players of all time. The solo on “Purple Rain” is an easy reminder. Additionally, “Let’s Go Crazy” is one of the best album openers of all time, literally inviting his audience into the pseudo-religious party Prince is about to throw.

Buy it: $21.98.

“Revolver” by The Beatles


What it is: The third greatest album of all time, according to Rolling Stone.

Why you should own it on vinyl: It’s the Beatles; don’t overthink it.

Buy it: $20.30.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson


What it is: The King of Pop’s masterpiece.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Every Halloween party you throw from now on will be exponentially more entertaining.

Buy it: $20.49.

“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye


What it is: Marvin Gaye’s most important album.

Why you should own it on vinyl: It had been a while since I listened to this record, and before I had refreshed my ears to it I had already written a bit here about how you should buy this record to have something you and your significant other can get freaky to. But then I listened again, and I remembered that this is not “Let’s Get It On” Marvin Gaye, even if it sounds like him. This is politically conscious Marvin Gaye. His tones are just as beautiful and the record is phenomenal, but he’s singing about some heavy ideas that it’s probably best to stay clothed to.

Buy it: $19.98.

“London Calling” by The Clash


What it is: The third album by The Clash and the 8th greatest album of all time, according to Rolling Stone.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Physically, it’s another great piece of iconic album artwork; who doesn’t want to be smashing a guitar in rock-fueled rage? Musically, critic Mark Kidel has referred to it as the first “post-punk double album” which seems as fitting a title as any.

Buy it: $26.99.

Essential Hip Hop


“Straight Outta Compton” by NWA

What it is: America’s introduction to Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Everyone needs to witness the strength of street knowledge. “Straight Outta Compton” laid the groundwork for what would become West Coast hip hop, and is at least partially responsible for the advent of gangsta rap. Having this record in your collection shows that you knew Ice Cube before he was an actor and Dr. Dre before he became the producer/godfather of hip hop figure that he exists as today. If you ever need to rage against the machine, N.W.A has your back.

Buy it: $22.98.

“Illmatic” by Nas


What it is: The first album Nas blessed us with, released when he was just 20 years old.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Nas is one of the top three lyricists ever to aim words at a microphone and an East Coast rap first-ballot hall of fame member. The beats from DJ Premiere, Pete Rock, and Q-Tip are so good the album could almost work as an instrumental, but it doesn’t. “Illmatic” leans closer to poetry than rap, with Nas continuously showing off his talent for rhythm, internal rhyme, and cadence. Nas drops enough one-liners in his songs that a new one will catch you every listen. Also, “N.Y. State of Mind” will forever be better than “Empire State of Mind”.

Buy it: $12.98.

“The Chronic” by Dr. Dre


What it is: Dr. Dre’s solo debut after breaking from N.W.A

Why you should own it on vinyl: “The Chronic” is a clinic in diss rap, with real shots taken at Eazy-E and Ruthless Records. The album was also the world’s introduction to Snoop Dogg, and listening to young Snoop and subsequently thinking about his verse on “California Gurls” is a tad funny, but also legitimately shows the range Snoop has developed over the years. Be forewarned though: These lyrics are not for the faint of heart.

Buy it: $17.99.

“The Great Adventures of Slick Rick” by Slick Rick


What it is: The first solo record of hip hop’s greatest storyteller.

Why you should own it on vinyl: In terms of tone and cadence, there are few rappers more fun to listen to. His songs tell swerving narratives and his beats are Rick Rubin approved. Add this record to your collection because there’s no rapper more fun to introduce to people who don’t know him. Plus, songs like “Children’s Story” teach listeners valuable life lessons.

Buy it: $26.24.

“The Blueprint” by Jay-Z


What it is: One of Jay-Z’s top albums and the record that established Kanye West as a top-tier hip hop producer.

Why you should own it on vinyl: This is Jay-Z before he married Beyoncé and dropped the hyphen. Legend has it that the only rapper to rewrite history without a pen recorded this entire album in just two weeks and wrote all of his lyrics in just two days. If you’re going to have Nas in your collection, you have to have at least one Jay-Z record as well, otherwise you’re picking sides.

Buy it: $29.99.

“Midnight Marauders” by A Tribe Called Quest


What it is: The third record from Phife Dog, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Q-Tip, and Jarobi.

Why you should own it on vinyl: The cover art is some of the most iconic in hip hop history; a rap version of the “Who’s Who?” game introduced by the cover of Sgt. Peppers. Also, “Midnight Marauders” is just an awesome record; I think you’ll find it precise, bass heavy, and just right.

Buy it: $16.99.

“Paul’s Boutique” by Beastie Boys


What it is: The sophomore record from Ad-Rock, MCA, and Mike D.

Why you should own it on vinyl: After the commercial success of their debut “Licensed to Ill“, Beastie Boys were labeled by some as “frat hip hop” due to their comical lyrics and simplistic samples. “Paul’s Boutique” is, in a way, a response to that designation as Beastie takes their act to another level. With dense samples (some songs utilizing sounds from as many as 11 other tracks) and more complex lyricism still delivered in their call and response style, this isn’t the Beastie Boys record with the most hits on it, but it is definitely the one to own.

Buy it: $38.79.

“good kid, m.A.A.d. city” by Kendrick Lamar


What it is: A collection of Kendrick’s reflections on his hometown, Compton.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Kendrick Lamar is the best lyricist hip hop has right now, and it’s going to take something pretty substantial to dethrone him. “GKMC” is a clinic in storytelling with beats and melodies reminiscent of OutKast’s breakthrough records “ATLiens” and “Aquemini“. Singles “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” are standouts, but this album is best when enjoyed front to back.

Buy it: $19.99.

Stuff I Own And Love And Think You Will, Too

“Is This It?” by The Strokes


What it is: The debut album of the greatest American rock band of the 20th century.

Why you should own it on vinyl: If you are ever hosting a party and get nervous about its musical setting, you can put this album on and buy yourself another 40 minutes. No one disapproves of The Strokes, and if they do, they are wrong. This is probably my favorite non-Kanye album on this list.

Buy it: $22.99.

“Come On! Feel the Illinois!” by Sufjan Stevens


What it is: The second album of Sufjan’s ill-fated quest to write an album for all 50 states, and the first album I ever listened to obsessively.

Why you should own it on vinyl: This record is a full orchestral experience, one that deserves to be blared through high-quality speakers so you can catch every nuance. Sufjan is a great American storyteller, intertwining Midwestern points of reference with extremely human ideas: running away from your problems, coping with loss, and questioning what comes next. I don’t think there is a more interesting album on this list in terms of the complexity of different musical and lyrical ideas that “Illinois” deals with.

Buy it: $19.59.

“In the Airplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel


What it is: Jeff Magnum and company’s second record and the chief reason Arcade Fire signed to Merge Records, according to Win Butler.

Why you should own it on vinyl: This is the record I stare at the ceiling to. Every person should have a record like that, where they sit and think (or don’t think) as music pours over them, only moving to flip to side two. This is that album for me, and could be for you, too.

Buy it: $17.99.

“Fate” by Dr. Dog


What it is: My favorite record by Philadelphia’s golden sons of indie rock.

Why you should own it on vinyl: This is another one where my bias shows, but just because my recommendation is biased doesn’t make it wrong. This album makes me happy in all the right ways and sad in a lot of the right ways, too. Dr. Dog has some of the best harmonies in indie rock. Few songs are more fun to jump to than “The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer”. If you buy “Fate” I bet you really enjoy it.

Buy it: $16.74.

“Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk


What it is: Daft Punk’s most recent attempt to control the world through music.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Daft Punk had a simply stated, yet difficult to execute goal heading into this album. “We wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with people,” they said in an interview with Rolling Stone. In that sense, “RAM” is an enormous success. With real musicians taking the place of computers, humanity shines through the album, with the mix still as precise as anything you would expect from Daft Punk. You probably remember “Get Lucky” and sure that song is fun, but this album is so much more than that.

Buy it: $24.99.

“For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver


What it is: The self-released debut album from Bon Iver.

Why you should own it on vinyl: I am a firm believer that you should have a few albums in your collection that will keep you company when you are sad. After two breakups, one with his girlfriend, one with his band, Justin Vernon set off for a secluded cabin in Wisconsin to spend three months in solitude. After his hibernation, he returned to the world with “For Emma, Forever Ago“. Get this record because Bon Iver is there to sonically hold you in your darkest moments.

Buy it: $14.98.

“Funeral” by Arcade Fire


What it is: The debut album from Arcade Fire.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Own it on vinyl because it’s important to listen to this one front to back. If the goal of art is to make your audience feel something, “Funeral” is one of the more successful albums of the past 20 years. Win Butler’s words hit you in the heart and force you to feel all the feelings. There are very few songs better suited for rage-dancing away your frustrations than “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”.

Buy it: $17.99.

“The College Dropout” by Kanye West


What it is: The album that introduced the world to Kanye West.

Why you should own it on vinyl: There is something for every type of hip hop fan on this record. Conscious rap, juvenile rap, even a dash of real throwback R&B with a little help from Jamie Foxx. Personally, this is the record that made me fall in love with Kanye for both his production and wordplay. Get it on vinyl now so when Kanye gets elected president in 2020 you have something for him to sign at the inauguration.

Buy it: $38.39.

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West


What it is: The greatest hip hop album ever made.

Why you should own it on vinyl: See above.

Buy it: $153.98.

Records On My Wishlist

“1989” by Taylor Swift


What it is: Arguably the most important pop record of the decade from arguably the biggest star on the planet.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Almost every song on this record is a hit. There are those out that there that are still going to hate, hate, hate on Taylor Swift but they just have poor taste. These tracks are fantastically constructed pop songs, a fact proven by Ryan Adams covering the entire record and giving it a new, still fantastic voice. If these songs weren’t good, Adams’ experiment wouldn’t have worked. Plus, it’s good to add a little brightness to your vinyl collection; it’s tough to be sad when T-Swift is belting her heart out for you.

Buy it: $20.50.

“AM” by Arctic Monkeys


What it is: The most recent release from Britain’s biggest rock band.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Arctic Monkeys have been a must-watch band since their debut “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not“. Through their discography they’ve shown a pretty wide variance in the style of music they produce, and “AM” is where they put it all together. Alex Turner’s lyrics are as biting as always, with beats that take you from the club to the drunken walks through the night and eventually to the hangover.

Buy it: $23.51.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1” by Various Artists


What it is: Soundtrack to the 2014 film “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Front to back the songs are great. Where else are you going to find “Hooked on a Feeling”, “Spirit in the Sky”, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the same vinyl pressing?

Buy it: $30.43.

“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco


What it is: Wilco’s best-selling album and the finished product of the recording sessions documented in the film “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart“.

Why you should own it on vinyl: Brent S. Sirito, who reviewed the record for Pitchfork, giving it a perfect 10, says it best: “Complex and dangerously catchy, lyrically sophisticated and provocative, noisy and somehow serene, Wilco’s aging new album is simply a masterpiece; it is equally magnificent in headphones, cars and parties. And as anyone who’s seen the mixed-bag crowd at Wilco shows knows, it will find a home in the collections of hippies, frat boys, acid-eating prep schoolers, and the record store apparatchiks of the indiocracy. No one is too good for this album; it is better than all of us.”

Buy it: $23.74.

In 2015, consumer research website Music Watch reported that under-25s made half of the vinyl purchases in the United States. That represents a peachy 8 million records bought by today’s youth.

Even Justin Bieber sells surprisingly well on vinyl.

It seems that touchy-feely vinyl is serving up a whole new listening experience and a visceral new way to engage with music that is being lapped up by curious snap-instagramming-twittering adolescents. Even more surprising, they are more interested in investing in old records and limited edition sets than current chart hits.

“In an increasingly digital age, vinyl records can provide a deeper, tactile connection to music that resonates with some of the biggest fans,” according to Josh Friedlander, vice-president of strategic data analysis at the Recording Industry Association of America.

Modern-day musicians are not oblivious to this fact. Adele’s 25 and Taylor Swift’s 1989 records were both in the top five album vinyl sales of 2015. Even Justin Bieber sells surprisingly well on vinyl. Overall in 2015, sales in the US rose by 30 per cent, with 12 million records sold. That was a staggering increase on 2014, when sales peaked at 9 million. In the UK, vinyl is expected to smash past the three-million mark by the end of this year.

If you invest in a vinyl collection, your taste in and appreciation of music can soar. Although recent popular artists are cashing in on the buzz, the majority of collectors listen to artists from the original vinyl era. David Bowie’s Blackstar is set to be the biggest seller of 2016, closely followed by musical and cultural giant such as Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd.

In the UK, vinyl is expected to smash past the three-million mark by the end of this year
These artists and their vinyl output, symbolic of an era that isn’t defined by commercial success, boy bands, or run by record company accountants, tell us a story that cannot be discovered via the click of a finger.

And you are not only investing in quality music but also a quality work of art. The square sleeve format is an integral part of the experience, and one that expanded the careers of artists such as Andy Warhol, Roger Dean, Burt Goldblatt and Peter Saville.

Their designs created a visual language for music and turned records into some of the most recognisable of the world’s artworks.

Be smart and invest now because these stunning visual masterpieces are only going up in price and demand. In the late 1960s, the Beatles’ iconic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cost $2-$3. Today an original from this era is estimated at $280 (£225).

So vinyl looks good – but most importantly, how good does it sound?

“Many digital music files and streaming services have sound that is actually quite poor, because of their compression. Vinyl produces a much fuller sound, which balances the quiets and the louds,” says Chad Jacobsen, chief sound engineer of Iowa State University music department.

In other words, vinyl is full-fat while digital is semi-skimmed. Technically, digital may be a little cleaner but a lot of beneficial elements get filtered out. The difference isn’t huge but vinyl does provide a richer and fuller sound that should keep you satisfied longer, making it a foolproof investment.

Don’t call it a comeback – vinyl has been here for years. It’s time to face the music and start your vinyl collection.


Interesting reads:




2 thoughts on “Are vinyl records worth collecting?

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