TOP FIVE Vinyl Records I Own

Part of my vinyl records collection

I have been a vinyl records collector since I was about eighteen. This passion for vinyls probably comes from my maternal grandfather, who was very passionate about classical music; he had a big collection of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon discs that he passed on to my mother. Those are lavish editions, curated in every single detail, and some of them have even a velvet case, so they deserve their own post, which is going to be an homage to my grandpa.

Vinyl records used to be pretty popular when my parents were growing up (we are talking about the 70s and 80s), but they had a decline with the advent of compact discs in the late 80s and in the 1990s decade they lost popularity due to mp3 players entering the market.

Anyway, LPs have always been present at flea markets, which kept selling used records over the years, even though the majority of people were turning to walkman cassette players and CDs. Only in the 2010s did they start a renaissance, when many records from legendary music icons like David Bowie and Elton John were remastered and reissued on the market in vinyl format. This brought many teenagers like myself to be interested in vinyl records, and portable turntables were among the best-selling items, especially online. I have always played records on my parents’ Kenwood stereo, which dates back to the early 90s; it combines a vinyl player, a CD player, radio and cassette players, so I consider it one of my favorite vintage gems.

My collection consists of mainly remastered vinyl pressings, a series of Christmas records and original soundtracks, which are probably the ones I listen to the most.

Today I will focus on my five favorite vinyl records in general; while an original soundtrack and a Christmas vinyl record are included in this list, I will publish articles related to Christmas music and original soundtracks later on. Here is my top five records collection (in no particular order, as I love them all equally!):

1) Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder (Motown Records, 1976): when I was in my early teens I used to listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder on mp3. I first set my eyes on “Songs in the Key of Life” while watching the Scandal TV show, as in one of the episodes the main character plays it on vinyl. The original LP was probably discontinued when I was searching for it, as I came across used copies only (and they were all very expensive!), so I found it by chance on Amazon a couple of years later, when it was remastered with a standard retail price.

The cover is the same as the original 70s version, the sound quality is exceptional and I love playing it in the summertime, while sipping a glass of wine in the evenings (this is so reminiscent of Scandal’s Olivia Pope, for those who watched the show).

My favorite songs are “Love’s In Need Of Love Today”, “Sir Duke”, “Knocks Me Off My Feet”, “Summer Soft” (Side A) and “Isn’t She Lovely”, “If It’s Magic” and “As” (Side B).

Songs in the Key of Life won Album of the Year at the Grammys in 1977 and in my opinion it is the album that represents Stevie Wonder’s music at its best. This edition includes also a 45 rpm bonus record.

2) Christmas – Michael Bublé (Warner Music, 2011): this is one of my favorite Christmas records and it is always playing as background music in my house during Christmas time. I used to own the CD version, but I switched to the vinyl format about five years ago and gifted the CD to my father. I have always loved Michael Bublé’s music, so I was very excited when his Christmas album came out.

Christmas is Bublé’s seventh studio album (and second Christmas- themed release, after Let It Snow in 2003); it includes a series of beautiful festive covers, as his wonderful voice perfectly adapts to the classic songs. The only brand-new track is “Cold December Night”, which is my favorite song in the album. As for the other tracks, Bublé teamed up with various known artists to record duets (“White Christmas” with Shania Twain and “Feliz Navidad” with Thalìa, just to name a couple). This is one of the best-selling Christmas albums worldwide and probably one of Bublé’s most successful records. It has been more than ten years since it was first released and it is still very popular today, played by thousands of people around the globe during the holiday season. I love this album so much that owning it on vinyl was the best option for me!

3) Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain (Warner Bros, Japan Import, 1984): I bought this one around the time of Prince’s death, when I realized I didn’t own any of his albums on LP or CD. I wanted to have the purple-colored vinyl edition so badly, but it was discontinued since the 80s and it retailed on eBay for about $400 (it still does, as a purple-colored vinyl edition has not been remastered since). I couldn’t believe my luck when I found the Japanese edition on Amazon for less than $100, so I bought it without a second thought. I know some of you might find it weird that I opted for a purple-colored edition when a remastered version in black vinyl is available wherever records are sold, but the collectors out there will probably understand. Plus, the purple-colored vinyl is so beautiful, almost psychedelic, like its music!

This album is the soundtrack to 1984 movie “Purple Rain” and it is Prince’s most pop-oriented album. It focuses on full band performances, as The Revolution are an American rock band assembled by Prince. Besides rock, the band’s sounds include pop, rhythm and blues and funk; it’s with Purple Rain that The Revolution rose to prominence in the 1980s.

The record won two Grammys, while Prince went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. My favorite tracks are “Take me With U”, “The Beautiful Ones” (Side 1) and “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain” (Side 2). I usually put this record on during the spring/summer season, as I find it very lively and energizing.

4) Breakfast in America – Supertramp (A&M Records, 1979): this was the first vinyl record I have ever bought. I found it in Milan in the early 2010s, and I believe it is the version that was reissued in 2002 with full original album art (which, by the way, I think it is one of the greatest ever made). I bought it at the old, huge Mondadori store (if you lived in Milan until 2014 you will remember it, as it was one of the biggest bookstores in the city) off their vinyl records section as a present for my mother, who is a big Supertramp fan.

Breakfast in America is the British band’s most popular album (their sixth studio album), it generated four successful singles, my favorites being “Breakfast in America” and “Goodbye Stranger”, and it won two Grammy Awards.

As I have previously mentioned, the album’s front cover is amazing and it represents an overlook of Manhattan through cutlery, a cornflake box, coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers etc. all in white. The main subject is a diner waitress named Libby, depicted as a Statue of Liberty holding up a glass of orange juice on a plate, like the Torch on the Statue. On the other hand she is holding a restaurant menu, with the words “Breakfast in America.” On the back cover are the band members having breakfast at a diner and reading their respective hometown newspapers. One can’t deny this is one of the most brilliant album cover arts ever conceived and it definitely stands out, as does the band’s music.

5) Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Soundtrack – The Bee Gees (Universal Music, 1977): this too is among the first albums I bought on vinyl, and one of my parents’ favorites. It is the soundtrack album from the 1977 film of the same name and the second-biggest-selling soundtrack of all time. This is the music that most epitomized the disco phenomenon both in Europe and the United States. Mine is the 40th Anniversary Deluxe edition, remastered and repackaged with its original album artwork (it contains scenes from the movie, mainly dance sequences with John Travolta).

The soundtrack was composed primarily by the famous English music group Bee Gees and it had a big cultural impact in the States. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and it was also added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for preservation. Five of the songs used in the movie were written and recorded by the Bee Gees; other songs from the disco era are included in the movie soundtrack.

In this edition, the tracks are divided on two vinyl discs; my favorites are “How Deep Is Your Love”(Bee Gees), “A Fifth of Beethoven”(Walter Murphy), “More Than a Woman” (Tavares), “Night Fever” (Bee Gees) and “Disco Inferno”(The Trammps). These are probably the most evocative songs of the era.

If you are thinking of buying a movie soundtrack, whether on vinyl record or CD, I highly recommend Saturday Night Fever OST, as it is one of the most played and appreciated soundtracks to this day.

Also, I will probably write a Favorite Vinyl Records – Part II article, as I am constantly searching for new ones to add to my collection!

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