Every vinyl fan who has been collecting for a while is bound to have some tried-and-true classic vinyl records in their collection. Maybe they inherited a vintage vinyl collection from their family or friends, happened upon them online, or found them deep in the stacks at their favorite record store. There is a massive amount of classic vinyl to be found, and we have some favorites of our own! Here are just a few of our picks for classic vinyl records we think everybody should have.
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Fleetwood Mac, the once all-blues band of the late 1960’s, experienced a larger-than-life transformation when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band in 1974. In this new configuration, they recorded their self-titled record. Buckingham’s guitar talents and Nicks’ mystical stage presence and poetic lyric style helped the band catapult to unprecedented global success. But with such an atmospheric rise, trouble inevitably hitches a ride.
While recording 1977’s Rumours, both Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship and keyboardist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie’s marriage ended on rough terms to say the least. Drummer Mick Fleetwood wasn’t exempt from the drama either, and experienced a rocky patch in his marriage as well. Personal romantic turmoil combined with newfound fame, money, world tours, hedonism, and the prevalent drugs of the time turned the making of Rumours into a kind of epic real-life soap opera. While the band members’ lives were falling apart around them, they were creating some of the most iconic music of modern time.
Driving rock and roll songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop” became anthems, while mysterious and haunting songs like “The Chain” gave listeners a picture of the band’s personal struggles. The softer, more ethereal “Dreams” and “Songbird” gave the album calmer valleys and moments of respite from the drama. This unforgettable record has inspired much of today’s music, and continues to do so with its honest writing, unique instrumentation, and emotional power.
More Like This: Steely Dan, Pretenders, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, The Cars, Billy Joel, Heart
Chuck Berry - Chuck
Chuck Berry, the Father of Rock and Roll, has influenced countless artists. Listen to many early songs by The Beatles, and you’ll hear interpretations of his iconic “Johnny B. Goode” guitar riff played by George Harrison. Watch an artist playing rock and roll guitar on stage and there’s a chance you’ll see a duck walk. Berry’s mark on music is so great, “Johnny B. Goode” is featured as the only rock and roll song on NASA’s Voyager Golden Record, a vinyl record sent into space representing the sounds of the human race on Earth.
Berry’s last album, simply titled CHUCK, was released in 2017; it was Berry’s 20th studio album, and his first album in 38 years to consist of mainly new material. Listening to this record, you’d believe he hadn’t aged a day. The rock sound that he boldly helped shape and mold rings true through every track, from the rollicking “Big Boys” to “Lady B. Goode,” playing off of that classic hit in a slightly tongue-in-cheek sequel. Any vinyl record collector, rock and roll obsessive, or music fan will always remember the Father of Rock and Roll.
More Like This: Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Bo Diddley
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - s/t
The self-titled debut album from a name synonymous with rock and roll, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers didn’t start off as a smash hit. After receiving little attention in the United States, the band went on tour in the UK and saw their record climb the charts across the pond. After about a year, the album began to gain traction in the States, with the singles “Breakdown” and “American Girl” going on to crack the Top 40 and becoming signature songs for the band’s performances.
Petty and the Heartbreakers went on to have a storied career, making heartland and Southern rock albums, hit singles, and more throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. Petty’s solo career took off in 1989, but the Heartbreakers reunited in 1996 and continued making music as if they’d never paused. Petty sadly passed away in 2017 at the age of 66, but his music and his work alongside the Heartbreakers continue to influence countless artists of today.
More Like This: Warren Zevon, Bob Seger, The Traveling Wilburys, The Cars, The Band, Boston, The J. Geils Band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Sly and the Family Stone - Greatest Hits
Sly and the Family Stone was a funk, soul, and psychedelic rock band active from 1966-1983, and was the first major American rock band to have a racially integrated and both male and female lineup. Fronted by songwriter/producer and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, they made an indelible mark on popular music with their unique sound, influencing the sounds of modern R&B, hip-hop, pop, and soul music with interesting arrangements and progressively experimental instrumentation.
Although the band was plagued by interpersonal problems and drug use throughout their tenure, their hits “Everyday People,” “Dance to the Music,” “Thank You,” “Stand,” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime” are still some of the most danceable, groovy tracks to come out of popular music.
More Like This: Parliament, Curtis Mayfield, War, Billy Preston, Shuggie Otis, Bill Withers, Betty Davis, Funkadelic
The Eagles - Hotel California
One of the most memorable lines in classic rock comes from the title track to The Eagles’ Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” sings lead singer Don Henley. The album’s themes, according to Henley, are represented in part by the mythical and somewhat sinister “lovely place” created in the titular hotel. He shares it represents “...loss of innocence, the cost of naiveté, the perils of fame, of excess; exploration of the dark underbelly of the American dream, idealism realized and idealism thwarted, illusion versus reality, the difficulties of balancing loving relationships and work, trying to square the conflicting relationship between business and art; the corruption in politics, the fading away of the Sixties dream of "peace, love and understanding."
The rest of the album carries through these themes - “Wasted Time,” a somber song mourning a breakup, “The Last Resort” about humanity’s impact on the Earth, and more create a memorable body of work that has and will continue to carry through time as a classic by the LA band.
Similar artists you may like: Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers, Don Henley, America, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, John Mellencamp, Crosby, Stills & Nash