Ask any fan of music and they’ll tell you that vinyl is arguably one of the greatest ways to experience your music in a physical way.
Sure, of course you’ve got the superb audio quality that vinyl brings with it, and sure, you’ve got something that looks pretty nifty on the racks, but there’s something else to remember as well – vinyl can be an art form that deserves to be appreciated.
While vinyl is made to be spun on your turntable, there’s no denying that some records are just so beautiful that they almost seem made to be admired, or hung up on the wall and framed.
It might defeat the purpose of buying the record itself, but we’ve gone and curated a list of ten of the best records you can buy right now that’ll not only double as a killer addition to your collection, but will also serve as some world-class art for your walls.
David Bowie – Blackstar
Let’s kick things off with a stunning release that is as bold as it is beautiful. Blackstar was released in early 2016 on Bowie’s 69th birthday, and just two days before his death. In addition to being a masjestic parting gift to his fans, the record itself was filled with special surprises for the music-lover to discover.
While the sleeve itself features a cut-out of a star, the paper behind the cutout showcases a starfield when help up the light. Further to that, the designer claimed there’s plenty more surprises to be discovered, so who knows, you might be the one to discover Bowie’s additional easter eggs!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F♯ A♯ ∞
A underground classic from this Canadian collective, it not only serves as a perfect soundtrack to the apocalypse, but a testament to the beauty of record packaging. In addition to featuring a rather stark cover, the sleeve features a bunch of goodies, including hand-drawn diagrams, notes, and cryptic messages from the band. The kicker? It also comes with a Canadian penny, crushed by a train.
A perfect example of the beauty of vinyl and its packaging, Godspeed You! Black Emperor might just be your new favourite band (they’ve long been one of mine!), and what better way to find out than with this gorgeous piece of vinyl.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III
Let’s take things back 50 years to Led Zeppelin’s third record. Sure, you might be sitting on a goldmine if you have a version of their debut with turquoise text, but it’s their third album that looks the slickest on the shelf. Featuring a stunning colourful cover, the record also features some die cut windows that change when you spin the wheel on the side of the record.
Effectively meaning that no record will ever look quite the same, Led Zeppelin III is not only a pretty amazing record (I mean, come on, it starts with the ‘Immigrant Song’!), but an amazing piece of record packaging that can be changed on a whim.
Deafheaven – Sunbather
Alright, we’ve looked at great album covers, and the secrets they can hide in the sleeve, what about the vinyl itself? Well, then let’s delve into the world of coloured vinyl with Deafheaven’s Sunbather. A two-disc release, the record features a baby pink vinyl, and a clear yellow one as well.
Sunbather might be a bit harsh to those with nervous dispositions, but the record itself is rather beautiful as well. Plus, its sleeve has a nice little cut-out which allows you to peek at the inner sleeve as well. It’s an all-round visual delight!
John Williams – Jurassic Park soundtrack
Okay, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t love Jurassic Park, and by extension, its soundtrack. So the next logical step is to cop the record on vinyl.
While an original soundtrack came out back in the day, this special edition came out in 2015 and features a unique cover which captures the mood of John Williams’ original score. On top of that, the slick transparent green vinyl of the release turns the entire package into something that truly deserves pride of place on the mantle.
Tool – Lateralus
Coloured vinyl, cool sleeves, and unique pressings – vinyl has it all. But, if you’re looking for something that takes it all to the next level, well, it’s time to grab yourself a picture disc, and what better way to do so than Tool’s acclaimed 2001 record, Lateralus?
Beloved by its fans, the CD edition is already a nifty package, but the vinyl edition ups the ante completely, with alternate artwork (in holographic foil) and two picture discs which further the record’s theme of delving deep into the human consciousness. Let’s be fair, every facet of this record is visually stunning, so you might need to grab two copies to frame both sides of each record.
Dune Rats – Hurry Up And Wait
The most recent addition to this list, Dune Rats released their third album back in January, and features some of their best tracks to date. But when they pressed the record onto vinyl though, they went all out. Another picture disc, this one has been designed to act as a zoetrope, with a series of images pressed onto the vinyl designed to give the effect of animation once it spins.
It might be a little bit difficult to achieve the full effect if you frame this bad boy on the walls, but can you imagine the conversations you can start by slapping it on the turntable?
Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billie Eilish’s debut album was – to put it simply – a phenomenon. Packed with killer tunes, this young American musician managed to turn pop music on its head, while making everyone stand up and pay attention. Not only that, but it became one of 2019’s best-selling albums thanks to its massive popularity.
When it was released on vinyl though, a special edition arrived which helped to showcase the power of the record, with a glow-in-the-dark pressing promoting some evening listening. Turn on the lights to power it up, then turn them off and allow the moody vibes of tracks like ‘Bad Guy’ to harness the full power of the record.
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon
Alright, let’s take a breather for a moment by turning our attention to the classics. Released in 1973, The Dark Side Of The Moon proved that even with seven albums under the belt, Pink Floyd were far from done. One of the world’s best-selling records, the music is as instantly recognisable and lauded as its front cover.
Designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie, the record’s sleeve is an iconic piece of music history which is almost universally recognised by anyone globally, whether they’re a music fan or not. If you’re looking for an amazing document of music history, and one of the finest album covers ever to adorn your wall, look no further than Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Jack White – Lazaretto
Alright, let’s cap things off by breaking out the big guns. If you know anything about Jack White, then you’d probably know he’s got a bit of a thing for vinyl. Yes, from ultra-rare limited edition pressings, to liquid-filled records, releases designed to be listened to at 3RPM, and singles pressed on x-rays, White wants to make sure that vinyl remains as intriguing as the music it contains.
In 2014, the iconic rocker released Lazaretto, his second studio album. For its vinyl release, he went all-out, unleashing the “Ultra LP” which contains more surprises than a malfunctioning jack-in-the-box. Featuring hidden grooves, secret songs, one side that plays in reverse, a track under the record’s label, and a gorgeous angel hologram when it spins, Lazaretto should be considered the gold class of record packaging.