By: Amanda McMillan
My vinyl collection started slowly at first and then all at once. It began fifteen years ago when my mother bought me a rinky-dink portable turntable and a handful of albums at a garage sale. Among them: Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi, Frampton Comes Alive by Peter Frampton, and not one but two Deep Purple albums. I am not and never have been a Deep Purple fan but I assume it was slim pickings and, I guess if nothing else, Ritchie Blackmore can shred.
After I graduated from university, I started collecting again on my own. It was around this time that I was deeply, deeply into 70s punk & glam. So, I started there and expanded outwards. It was and continues to be, important to find vintage versions of records any time I can. The majority of my collection dates in the late 60s through to the early 80s. Anything outside of that is typically 180-gram re-pressings of old albums or net-new records. I rarely buy new artists on vinyl, but every so often I cannot resist due either to special edition versions, the cover art, or it’s iconic status. As I looked through my collection, which is probably about 100-120 albums deep (certainly small by comparison to many collectors), it was hard to choose just five. So hard, in fact, I had to choose six. I love all my vinyl babies, but these are the ones that I turn to the most and/or are the ones that I just love having on display.
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac (1977)
I would be remiss not to include this album. This is one of the greatest albums of all time and is probably in most people’s collections. My version is a 1977 pressing, and is in relatively good shape, although it always sticks during the solo on “Go Your Own Way”, which I find kind of charming. I put this record on the most often when I have people over because it is a crowd pleaser! Listening to this album on vinyl through a decent pair of headphones brings it to a whole new level. As a bass player, I’ve gone back to this album for the sake of this piece and really intently listened to the bass on each track as recorded on vinyl and it’s super special.
Ultimate track: “The Chain”. Sonically, all things considered, I think “The Chain” is peak, Fleetwood Mac.
Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones (1971)
If you were to ask me the age-old question of “The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” I would say The Beatles every time. However…Sticky Fingers is a magnificent and very, very cool album. One of my all-time favourite songs is “Moonlight Mile,” a deep cut and the last track off of this album. It’s truly beautiful. “Wild Horses,” one of the Stones’ best ballads is also on this album, along with bangers like “Brown Sugar” and “Can’t Hear Me Knocking.” This bad boy is chock-a-block full of Stone's realness. My version is the 1971 pressing in less than great shape BUT it does have the original real zipper on the front. The titillating album art was shot by none other than Andy Warhol, and had this album art been released 20 years later you might mistake it for a George Michael album. What I’m saying is, it is many shades of homoerotic, but given the time period of the androgynous 70s and the sex appeal of Mick Jagger, it’s passed off as another provocative photo by infamous weirdo Warhol. It’s fucking iconic!
Ultimate track: Gotta stick with my fave, “Moonlight Mile.” It sounds even warmer and more emotional on vinyl.
Never Mind The Bollocks - The Sex Pistols (1977)
Again, another absolute classic. My version is a 1977 pressing. The album artwork on this is fucking brilliant and stands the test of time. The neon pink and green are delicious and chaotic. It is truly symbolic of The Sex Pistols and what was going on in England during the late 70s. The key difference between UK punk and US punk at the time (boiled down to its most basic and simplistic comparison of The Ramones vs The Sex Pistols) is that The Ramones were bored, and the Sex Pistols were angry. The Ramones were messy weirdos, and The Sex Pistols were psychotic. This album is top to tail a fuck you to The Man, to the Monarchy, and to the brutal class system that existed at the time (and to some extent, still does).
Ultimate Track: “Anarchy in the U.K.” I mean, c’mon!
Aladdin Sane - David Bowie (1973)
I searched high and low for a vintage copy of this album, including in multiple cities (and even then the best I could find is this ‘Best Buy series’ stamped version, pressed in 1980). This is a hard album to come by, largely due to its iconic album artwork, but also due to how hard it is to find classic vintage Bowie records after he died in 2016. Alas, I was very pleased to happen upon this gem as I am a very big Bowie fan - his section is the largest within my collection. What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? This album was the making of an icon. Hot off the trails of “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, Bowie reinvented himself as Aladdin Sane, creating a new visual persona as much as a sonic one. Where Ziggy Stardust was raw and curious, Aladdin Sane is truly an alien, strange and provocative. The album is as much the art as it is the music, and this look became one of the most recognizable symbols of rock music. Props to make-up artist Pierre Laroche for giving us this face!
Ultimate track: “Lady Grinning Soul.” It is my favourite David Bowie song, it is spooky and delicate, and the piano is to die for.
Random Access Memories - Daft Punk (2013)
I think this was the album that got me into buying new music on vinyl. I absolutely had to have this album art in my collection. It’s fucking brilliant and cool, and well-designed. That early-80’s inspired font?! It is such a gorgeous nod to their roots and EDM as a genre. Daft Punk is fucking pioneers of the genre, and they do not get nearly enough credit for how they took the roots of electronic audio production and turned them into music that is truly transcendent. This album is banger after banger, with some of the craftiest and catchiest hooks in their catalogue. They are masters of the dance hook. Featuring a spoken-word track by none other than the godfather of EDM Giorgio Moroder, plus writing credits from Nile Rogers, Julian Casablancas, Canada’s own Chilly Gonzales, and of course Pharell Williams, Random Access Memories is an absolute gem. I dare you not to dance while listening to it...it is not possible!
Ultimate Track: You’re thinking it’s gonna be “Get Lucky” but I have to give it to “Lose Yourself to Dance.” It’s so grooooooovy!
A Seat at the Table (2016)
What an absolute feast of an album. Solange is the true definition of an artist. Her work is so purposeful, so intentional, so deeply personal. Her evolution as an artist is so beautiful to watch; she is always leaving us with something to feel, something to look for, something to want. A Seat at the Table came out the same year as Lemonade, which was lauded as the best album of the year (rightfully so, it is also a masterpiece). The fact that these two ‘sister’ albums entered our orbit in the same year without really being compared or pitted against one another is a testament to both Solange and Beyonce’s talent, artistry, and indeed how they have built their own brands. This album is stunning, and it gets me every time. It’s so warm, and plush, and tender on vinyl. It is truly a full meal.
Ultimate track: This is a very difficult choice. Every single song is worthy. I think I’m going to have to give it to “Cranes in the Sky” because it makes my heart sing every time I hear it. The lyrics, the vocals, the bass, the piano...all of it. Stunning.