While music has always been a major part of my life, I’ve only been collecting records for about five years now. Yes. I am definitely one of those people who jumped on the bandwagon – and I don’t even care. I’ve always been a collector. Be it wrestling figures when I was a little kid, Panini stickers in my early teens, or books throughout most of my adulthood; collecting is just what I do. But few things have brought me as much joy as my record collection and ordering new albums throughout lockdown has been the main thing that has got me through.
Below you’ll find my favourite ten records. Not necessarily in order of how much I love the music, although that obviously plays a huge part. But this top ten is more to do with records that mean a lot to me or simply something that I admire as a piece of art. So basically, this is a list that shows what a massive geek I am.
Away we go…
10 – Dream Wife – Dream Wife
This debut album from the Brighton based three piece was one of my favourite albums from 2018. Seeing them live last year only increased my love for the band, as did the recent release of their second album So When You Gonna… But I’ll admit that a big part of the reason you’re seeing this here in my top ten is that I think it might be the coolest looking slice of vinyl I own. There’s just something special about seeing that splatter spinning round on my turntable.
9 – David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
One of the all-time greats, right? Obviously I love this album. We all love this album. If you don’t love this album you should have a quiet word with yourself and listen to ‘Moonage Daydream’ at top volume. But this record was also an early spark for my collection as I came across it while absently flicking through a stack of records at a local market. I couldn’t resist the battered cover, the little message scrawled on the linear notes of the sleeve. This spoke to the collector in me and I had no hesitation in handing over a tenner for it before I’d even brought myself a record player.
8 – Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
It might seem a little premature to be including a record that came out in June 2020, but that is how much Punisher has spoken to me since its release. I adore this album. It is eleven songs of quiet, measured beauty that distil so much meaning into every word and every detail of the music. It deserves all the praise it has received. Add to this that the variation of the record that I have is stunningly beautiful, and that it comes with the prettiest lyric book you’re likely to see, and I am totally sold. You might be thinking that this will slip down my list as time moves on, but if anything I think it is likely to force its way closer to the top. You can read my full review of Punisher here.
7 – Bob Dylan – Masterpieces
Like the Bowie record above, this was another that I picked up very early in my record collecting days. To any fellow Dylan fans this might seem like a weird choice, but again – this is about my connection to the particular record more than anything else. This is a kind of greatest hits collection, made up of three discs of alternative versions of classic Dylan songs. The reason I love this record so much is that it showed me why records are so obviously the best way of listening to music – it forced me, for almost three hours, to sit still and take the music in in a way that you simply don’t do with a Spotify playlist. If I hadn’t had that realisation while listening to Masterpieces, my collection might have stalled at five or six records.
6 – Fugees – The Score
While this actual record is a relatively recent purchase, this album has been one of my favourites forever. I have been eyeing this limited-edition orange vinyl ever since I became aware of it, but have had a total nightmare getting my hands on it. Two cancellations. One copy that claimed to be the orange vinyl, only to be the black version when I got home and got the packaging open. And to anyone who is reading this and thinking ‘it’s all the same music you weirdo’, well maybe you aren’t the same kind of collector as me. Once I’d seen it, I had to have it.
5 – IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
IDLES have been a massive band for me over the last few years, and Joy As An Act Of Resistance is one of those rare albums that never gets old. They’re a band that manages to be fun and important in the same breath. I’ll never tire of this album, but what makes this limited edition even more amazing is the artwork that comes with it. This isn’t just a near perfect album. It’s a book, it’s something to brighten up your walls, and it’s yet another way to feel a part of the community that IDLES have formed. I only wish I’d felt the same about Ultra Mono, but if I’m being honest I have become even less sure about that album since I reviewed it on release.
4 – The Twilight Sad – It Won’t Be Like This All The Time
I first discovered The Twilight Sad when I saw them at Latitude Festival in 2015. That was when they were touring the record before this one, so when It Won’t Be Like This All The Time came out it was the first time I had been a part of the release cycle for one of their albums. And what an experience that was. This album is so high on my list partly because it is beautiful, both visually and in terms of how it sounds. But it is mainly so high because it reminds me of the four times I saw them on this tour, and particularly the in-store show at Jumbo Records at which I picked up this blue indies exclusive and got it signed by the band while chatting to them at the counter. A great memory and a great record.
3 – The National – High Violet
This 10-year-anniversary edition was released on the same day as Punisher, so you could again argue that it’s a little early for it to be included. But come on! The National are a hugely important band to me, and while Boxer might actually be my favourite album of all time, there can be little argument about how amazing and involving High Violet is. The three records in this edition are so stunningly beautiful that I could probably just sit for hours and stare at them. But why would I do that when I could be listening to songs like ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, ‘England’, and (exclusive to this edition on vinyl) ‘You Were A Kindness’.
2 – Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman
I spoke about why I love this album on a recent episode of the Picky Bastards Podcast, so please go and check that out if you’ve got the time. This album has been part of my life for as long as I remember. It’s fitting then, that this was the first record I ever bought for myself. Without this album I might not be anywhere near as into music as I am today, and without this particular record I might never have started collecting.
1 – Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
This is what being a record collector is all about. Not only did Radiohead prove they’re the best band on the planet by releasing a 9th album that is as good as almost anything they’d done before, but they put together a package so beautiful that every one of their fans wanted to own it. Not only that, they offered us a bit of history by providing a piece of tape from a previous recording session alongside the records and the incredible, jawdropping artwork. This might be my favourite possession, not just my favourite record. And yes, I’m aware what a music nerd this makes me look like – but what do expect from a Radiohead fan who has just written an article about the top ten records in his collection?
Words By Fran Slater