Want to know about the greatest feats in music recording and packaging history? Ask some DJs about their favorite vinyl.
- Santana, Lotus (This 1974 triple live album, initially released only in Japan, is one of the most elaborately packaged albums I know of!)
- Derek and the Dominos, In Concert (This 1973 live album, their second and final album, has never been released in its original form on CD.)
- The Beatles, Christmas Album (This is the U.S. compilation, on Apple Records, of the Beatles' seven Christmas messages created only for the members of their fan club. The messages and the album have never been issued commercially!)
- The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (I own an original, 1967 U.S. stereo pressing on Capitol Records, still in its shrink wrap and complete with the insert sheet of cutouts and custom inner sleeve.)
Steely Dan, "Four Tracks From Steely Dan" (A 12-inch, 45 RPM EP from the U.K., featuring four tracks, two of which are the very rare songs that made up their debut single never included on an album or issued on CD.)
- Steve Martin, Let's Get Small (Steve with the bunny ears and the arrow-through-the-head; I had this memorized)
- The Beatles, 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 (two double-album collections, one red and one blue, which were my introduction to the Beatles on vinyl.
- JF Murphy & Salt, JF Murphy & Salt (a cult band on the college circuit in the late '60s early '70s, from my big sister's collection)
- Grateful Dead, Europe '72 (a triple album with a multi-page liner notes filled with photos of the tour, great for cleaning oregano)
Carole King, Tapestry (another one from my big sister's collection, which had all the lyrics on the back cover)
- Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland (19 nudes cover of British release)
- Led Zeppelin, "Immigrant Song b/w Hey Hey What Can I Do" (Japanese 45)
- J. Geils Band, Bloodshot (on red vinyl and signed by Peter Wolf)
- Lynyrd Skynrd, Street Survivors (with original 'fire' cover, withdrawn after tragic plane crash killed members 3 days after its release, then re-issued 30 years later)
Alice in Chains, Jar of Sap (two EP's packaged together on colored vinyl)
Although I have a few recent vinyl releases, I cherish some vinyl collectibles. Back in the 70's, before the CD revolution, record companies would sometimes issue promotional copies of albums with colored vinyl or as picture discs with the album cover pressed on vinyl. Here are some of my favorites:
- Dave Mason, Alone Together (my all-time favorite - marbleized vinyl of his first solo album, autographed, "To John, many thanks...")
- Various Artists, All Meat: Burbank's Finest (2-record collection of Warner Bros. artists, like The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Allen Toussaint, and Emmylou Harris, on light brown vinyl, in what looks like a package of bologna)
- The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (picture disc)
- Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town (picture disc)
Pink Floyd, A Collection of Great Dance Songs (pink vinyl)
Jimmy Reed, Found Love
A friend of mine from 10th grade, Gary Hnizda, "borrowed" this album from his older sister and gave it to me. It's a maroon label Vee-Jay LP, a little beat up but it still gets the message across. The music is inspired and soulful, the recordings sound great.. The back cover is really cool, filled with pictures of other Vee-Jay label LPs from the late '50s, suitable for staring.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold As Love - Mono mixes, 180 gr. vinyl reissue
As the story goes, the stereo mixes of this album that we've heard for all these years were hurriedly done after Jimi took the stereo master tapes home one night and misplaced them somewhere. These mono mixes are really artfully done, lush sounding; supposedly the original stereo mixes were too. This reissue is highly recommended if you like the Axis album.
Various Artists, Like 'Er Red Hot
When I used to see this album in a record store as a kid, for some reason it scared me. Maybe it's the photo of Johnny Ace on the back where he looks like a ghost. It's got a weird front cover, with a red and green chili pepper motif; I have no idea what the title means. It's a compilation album of singles on the Duke label from Houston, Texas, with artists like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Ace, etc. — really superb music from start to finish. But again, there's some strange vibe about the whole thing. Duke Records used a liner note writer named Dsondira LaIsac who had a really otherworldly prose style; his (her?) liner notes are weird gibberish that add to the effect.
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Lick My Decals Off, Baby/The Spotlight Kid - 2 record set
I got this on one of my trips to the London office of WEA, back in the '80s. To be honest, I still haven't played The Spotlight Kid, but the other album is an all-time favorite. The mental image I get when I hear that music is of the Rock bands seen on "The Flintstones" during the '60s; this comes across to me as Modern Stone Age music. And this wins for Best Album Title Ever, no contest.
The Beatles' Second Album
These days I can do without the extra compression and echo, but this is such a killer Rock and Roll album, the band is just really on fire. Some of the covers are better than the originals, and I don't say that lightly. I've heard some of these tracks on CDs of course, and they just don't have the same urgency. Dave Marsh wrote a great book about this album.