My Top Albums On Vinyl, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Those who have lived through the eras of music on vinyl, reel-to-reel tape, 8-track and cassette tapes, CDs, and digital formats may tell you that the best of all was the vinyl era.  Yes, most audiophiles believe that the best sound actually comes off of records, not the other formats. As records and recording equipment evolved over many decades, the sound steadily improved. Before the giant rush to tape formats, recordings on vinyl records became quite advanced. When mono became stereo, and stereo advanced to multi-channel sounds, people were piling columns of speakers around their rooms in order to make it feel like the music was being played right there in the room with them.

record player

There were people who could tell you which albums had the best “channel separation” and would place speakers where certain instruments would appear in one place, while others could be heard from elsewhere in the room. As recording techniques became sophisticated, so did the listeners’ equipment. If you had a great turntable, receiver, speakers, and headphones, you probably needed an equalizer so you could balance your sound perfectly. I had a friend who loved classical music. His many speakers were placed strategically so as to have the symphony orchestra placed perfectly. With a little mixing magic on the equalizer, you might feel you were hearing the music live.

Those days are gone and no matter how much you insist the sound is better today, no one with a “sophisticated stereo system” in the 1970s will agree with you. Why that diamond needle riding along groves in vinyl produced such a great sound is definitely a wonder I do not understand, but it did. Every now and then I heard a CD in my last car that impressed me with some channel separation that produced different instruments from different speakers, but that was rare. It did not compare with recordings of older times. Now I must plug my phone into a USB port to get music or revert to FM radio, which sounds like the old AM radio stations to me, but I digress.

Albums continue to be released on vinyl but they do not match the numbers from the eras before cassette tape.  I must remind you here that 8 tracks were a “flash in the pan” and I am pleased to say I never owned one. In 2021 more albums were sold on vinyl than in any year since 1991, still, the numbers are paltry compared to the decades before that.

Abbey Road

You may be surprised to learn the biggest-selling vinyl album of 2021, according to theVinylFactory.com hit 318,000 copies. It was Adele’s “30.” You have likely heard of Adele and have at least a passing acquaintance with her music. Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” hit 268,000 copies. If you are asking “Who?” so was I. You probably have to be a Millennial or a member of Gen Z. Boomers may be pleased to find The Beatles’ Abbey Road is still in the Top Ten vinyl sales. The continual rise in record sales does not mean Vinyl is back, however.

Surprisingly, vinyl records comprise half of all physical album sales. This is due to the decline in CD sales and the rise in digital downloads, and playlists culled from subscription services like Spotify and Amazon Prime Music. In my last visit to Best Buy, I noticed they had given up on CD sales.

So, with all this in mind, I offer my eclectic selection of 5 vinyl albums I have for decades and still think worthy of playing often. The first is from my dear departed mother’s multitude of records. Her collection featured show tunes, which I guess is appropriate for me, as well as Caruso and Mario Lanza.  I can not tell you how many Saturday afternoons were filled with Mario Lanza. Perhaps that was to drive us out of the house to play outside, I am not sure. I still have an album called Andy Williams Million Seller Songs. They were not all his million sellers, but a few were hits for him. I like the whole thing. It was released in the fall of 1962 and hit Billboard’s Top LPs in January 1963 and stayed there for 43 weeks.

If I loved a group, I inevitably wanted their Greatest Hits album.  A lot of my early favorites were by The Hollies. The group was formed in 1962 and has continued on with various members. They had so many early hits they actually put out a greatest hits album in 1967.  Some of the songs were co-authored by one of the founding members, Graham Nash.  He left the group in 1968 to form another group on my list. The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

One group I have mentioned before in the article The Time It Is Today. The Association was known for songs with a social message. I just about wore out their Greatest Hits album as it is filled with my favorites from the late 1960s.

I actually had the next album on cassette first. Later, someone gave me Willie Nelson’s Stardust on vinyl. This 1978 album was a revelation to me as I heard Willie sing standards from other eras.  Nelson picked his favorites and did them proud with his unique interpretations. This is a treasured piece of my surviving vinyl collection.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time is actually a double album by a group formed of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young.  The 1970 album 4 Way Street was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York, The Chicago Auditorium, and The Forum in Los Angeles. All four individually wrote the songs on the album. The harmonies were classic and enduring. The messages were timeless.

Sources include: “US vinyl sales reach thirty-year high in 2021,” by  thevinylfactory.com, January 14, 2022.

Categories: Entertainment, Music

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15 replies

  1. Loved the Association, although I had just a few 45s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I started as a musician in the 60s. Learned recording engineering during that time, as well. Have been in the engineering side of this industry since ’69. I’ve seen many changes to the way we listen to and experience music. There’s good and bad in every format, but I dare say that vinyl was getting better than anyone ever thought, and was pushed out by CD, “perfect sound for ever”. Since then, digital recording and reproduction has changed many times over. And finally, CDs seem to be going the way of vinyl, and both are showing an amazing resilience, holding on by pure tenacity. DVDs, Streaming, Thumb drives, SD cards, Blue Ray, SACD, Music Servers to name a few, have taken over. Like the battle over VCR vs Beta of the past, it’s a struggle of “convenience”. When vinyl was popular, it was the best format and we didn’t mind getting up to turn it over every 20 minutes. Once we realized we didn’t have to do that with a CD, that became the new wave. Now, with streaming, and “remote controls” we never have to leave our couches. Many of us have almost forgotten how to walk. The animated movie “Wally-E” comes to mind.

    My biggest complaint at my age, is that I can hardly read the liner notes on modern CDs any more, and so, miss the human sized writing on the back of vinyl albums. Also, I still have over 2000 records.

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    • I actually BOUGHT a record the other day. It was the original “Rhythms and Ballads of Broadway” — a Johnny Mathis album from the very early 1960s. I had a copy when I was a young teenager and pretty much wore the grooves off it. I wanted another copy, but it’s not only not available on CD, it’s not available period anywhere — except this ONE record by this one guy in England. It cost me $12 US including shipping — which would have been cheap in the early 1960s. It’s in perfect condition, too. AND as it happened, Garry still had his turntable, virtually brand new, so for this ONE record, we have another piece of equipment. It stands right between the CD player and the wind-up Victrola. We are, if nothing else, eclectic.

      My real problem with LPs was honestly how easily damaged they are. I was find with CDs and I still whenever possible buy my own CDs (not digital) and my own DVDs because I don’t WANT every to be dependent on our crappy ISP.

      Unless we do something to improve ISP performance in many parts of this country — like this one — which aren’t in a city or suburb, there’s going to be a lot of this going around. Also, people listen to music on their phones. I can barely listen to an audiobook that way because the voices are so scratchy and have no depth, so how can you listen to MUSIC like that? Maybe music has gotten so bad that no one cares?

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      • My turntable is about done and I have been debating whether to get another, or get rid of it and the records. I just don’t think I can part with some of these albums, even if I could find them in another format.
        I have an album of Jerry Lewis Just Sings autographed by Lewis. I bought it as much as ten years ago off an old guy who was giving up on his record shop. He was there for decades and never got into other formats. You could get new and used albums there. The signature is a bit worn, but I believe it to be authentic so I bought it. There were only a couple of days left, so he was selling everything he could. I would guess he would still have had thousands of records on the last day. If I had known a few days earlier he was going out of business, I may have purchased more. I never listed to that album and it is still in the plastic protector he was keeping it in. I have the 45 of Lewis singing Come Rain or Come Shine. He really coould belt out a song.


    • The Association’s Greatest Hits actually has all of the lyrics of all of the songs one the back of the album cover. Sometimes a CD insert has that, but as you say it is oftern to small to read.
      My car cassette player had auto reverse and I thought that we just the coolest thing. I did not have to eject the cassette and turn it over.


  3. We had a huge record collection when we got married. All of Garry’s plus all of mine — and then came the first serious flood and we lost almost all of them except the half dozen that weren’t downstairs where the water was. Owen has quite a collection of vinyl. We have three records — one I bought because it was absolutely unavailable in any other format and a few that didn’t get drownded in the water in the basement. I think CDs are beginning to come back again as are DVDs because not everyone wants to be 100% dependent on wi-fi for entertainment, especially if you don’t have a great ISP (we really don’t). I LIKE owning my own movies and music. I gave up on books because they were taking over entire parts of the house, but favorite movies and music, I want to be able to take with me should we ever go anywhere ever again.

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    • I have a lot of 45’s in the basement, both my mom’s and my brothers. They are not at floor level in case we have another flood. The albums, cassettes and CSs are in the apartment. Some of them I could never part with, although I would consider a new copy if necessary.
      My internet is very good, but I rarely list to music on the computer, to be honest. The most time I spend looking for music on You Tube is when I make top ten lists for SERENDIPITY!.


  4. Very nice.
    I had a pretty large Album selection at one point. About 300 albums I guess. When I consider the transient life I’ve had that’s rather remarkable. This was a big deal for a poor boy like me. Guess that’s where a lot of money went. Played on my Lenco L75 manual turntable – Sansui 222 Amp – Wharfedale Speakers. A pretty modest setup. Eventually had to sell or give everything away. But not before I transferred much of it to Cassettes which I played to death in my 69 Dodge Colt.
    What would we do without Music eh? And we have been so fortunate, haven’t we.
    Right now I am able to recover and download a ton of my old music from YouTube. For Free. It doesn’t have the sound quality that you speak of, but for this ‘tin ear’ it’s still a joy.
    Ride on Rich.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have some music downloaded and it is a nice way recapture things I don’t have anymore. John created playlists on You Tube so he could also take a peak at the music videos from time to time as they played. I have some playlists on Spotify. I still prefer to play the record or CD.


  5. I am only 41 but I remember owning records when I was around 9 years old. I loved the sound of them. I am a member of spotify and amazon music now. I still own a lot of cd’s but I rarely listen to them nowadays. Xx

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    • I still have a lot of CDs but used to listen to them in my car. My current car does not have a CD player.

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      • Our car doesn’t have a CD player in it either and I really MISS it. Or missed it, back when we actually drove places. But we do listen to them. Not all day every day, but when we are in the mood. I love music, but I don’t want it playing all the time. For one thing, with music on in the background, Garry can’t hear anything — not even the music. It’s like white noise. And as for me, it just means should louder to be heard — just in case anyone is actually listening.

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        • When I could no longer get a cassette player in the car, my CD collection grew. Now I listen to FM stations or ESPN radio in the car. I miss the CD player too. I still buy a CD now and then, but since Best Buy gave up carrying CDs and the big music stores are gone, I have to order off the internet.


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