The Last Word
The Fall and Rise of Vinyl
They said it was dead, but to those in the know, it has never gone away. Vinyl has always been the perfect way to listen to your favourite album, and therefore reports that sales of the format are at their highest in 25 years don’t surprise us in the slightest.
First cassettes, then CDs, then digital downloads, then streaming were supposed to be the death knell for the format, but none prevailed. In fact, 3.5 million vinyls were sold in 2016. For the record, this meant more money was spent on vinyl than digital downloads last year.
The ritual of carefully releasing a 12” vinyl from its perfect immaculate sleeve, setting it on the turntable before gently placing the needle and waiting for that crackle is something you never get bored of once you’ve tried it once.
While many of you will no doubt have collections that far outstrip the space available to store your vinyl in, for some the time is now to dip your toes into those vinyl waters.
For this week’s Last Word, we highlight the new and classic records that every collector, young and old, should have in their collection.
ClassicsThe Jam - In The City
The debut album by the Modfather’s first band, In The City, melds pop melodies with punk sensibilities to create a timeless album that is undoubtedly one of Weller’s finest works.Lou Reed - Transformer
The Velvet Underground moved to Berlin in the 70s, and teamed up with David Bowie to produce a master class in idiosyncratic songwriting that’s still able to touch a chord with millions.The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
Although picking a favourite Smiths album is akin to choosing your favourite child, the Queen Is Dead is widely regarded as Morrissey and Marr’s most complete work, and the wonder of vinyl only makes the songs ring out with even greater grandeur.The Beatles - The White Album
Also known simply as ‘The Beatles’, this ninth studio album by the Fab Four is the band’s sprawling, four-side masterpiece, showcasing everything the world’s biggest band did best across one and a half spell-binding hours.Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I Am Not
Jumping forward a bit, and a somewhat ironic inclusion due to the band’s fame being largely attributed to digital distribution, the debut album from Sheffield’s favourite sons rewrote what it meant to be a British band in the new Millennium. Whatever People Say I Am finally gave the new generation a band who sang about their issues in a way unlike anybody else.
With the renaissance of our favourite format, a new wave of bands are able to share the fruits of their labour on 12” for you to enjoy. Here are a few new releases we think you’ll love.The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
The latest album from Adam Granduciel’s sprawling, Bruce Springsteen-inspired project is undoubtedly one of the albums of the year. It’s a sweeping, grandiose masterpiece to get lost in, and it sounds even better on vinyl.The Charlatans - Different Days
Tim Burgess and friends return for the 13th time, but the quality shows no sign of dropping yet. Bringing to mind psych, synth pop acts such as MGMT as much as their Britpop contemporaries, Different Days is a record packed with hooks that is sure to make even the band’s biggest critics smile.Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer
The darling of the second coming of London's grime scene, Stormzy has managed that rare trick of taking underground sounds made for a youth subculture to the mainstream, without losing any of his gravitas. Full to the brim with future classics placing his inimitable delivery front and centre, this debut album is a marker in the ground, and the critics seem to agree with the album nominated at this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize. We can't wait to see what he does next.Sampha - Process
Rising to fame thanks to his appearance on SBTRKT's debut album a few years ago, Sampha's unrivalled, soulful delivery immediately caught the eye, making this debut album one of the most anticipated of recent years. It didn't disappoint. Process shows off with aplomb, creating a real grower of an album. Along with Stormzy, he is also one of this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize nominees.A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here
After 18 years, hip hop legends A Tribe Called Quest returned with their sixth and final album, and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. Enlisting everyone from Jack White to Elton John to Kanye West for help, we reckon We Got It From Here may go down as the troupe’s defining work.