I’ve been a bit late to the record game – pretty damn late to be honest, but there’s a reason behind it all. My dad was a massive record collector in the 70s, 80’s and early 90s, and had an impressive collection showcasing everything from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slade, KISS, Ramones, Uriah Heep and Aerosmith, to pretty much every other great guitar based band released during those decades. Some records he’d even get two copies off, one for listening, and one for safe keeping. He’d play them to my mum and make her guess which band it was, which has led to her having a somewhat knowledge about music, but also making statements like ‘It’s like Woodstock upstairs every time you’re back home!’ when I listen to Sex Pistols in my room, and describing Jimi Hendrix like ‘the guy with the big hair.’ Sure mum, the guy with the big, uhm, hair…
Then, the 90s happened and CDs emerged – vinyls were taking up a lot of space, and let’s be honest, made it a b*tch to move house, so my dad, as oh-so many others, gave away his record collection. Early versions and first editions of pretty much all the bands I’ve been obsessing over since forever – gone. This is obviously something that’s been on my mind for a long time, which led to me refusing to buy records, for the sole reason that I knew it would drive me insane that pretty much every record I’d ever want from the 70s or 80s, my dad had, and gave to someone else but me. A few years back he dug out the ones that he’d managed to keep, and gave them to me – the most precious ones of them all, his entire Ramones collection, all early editions. At this point, I still didn’t have a record player so I brought them home and kept them as some sort of shrine for my dad’s youth and his musical influence on me, and a constant reminder about my childhood and growing up listening to them. Also a reminder that they could have been accompanied by about 1500 more records or so, GOD DAMN IT.
Anyway, I spent quite a while tossing and turning regarding the whole record player issue, and after acquiring a few more records here and there from friends and touring bands staying at mine, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and just god damn go get one. After doing so, I spent my first evening and pretty much all of that first night listening through the records I did have, alphabetising them repeatedly for my own satisfaction, signed up and got a Discogs account and adding a bunch to my ‘Want’ list, all while slowly coming to terms with the fact that I had 100% f*cked myself over financially and that I’d never have any money ever again, cause if there’s one thing I’ve always managed to justify spending money on it’s music and gigs, and if buying records to put in alphabetical order before listening to them ceremonially isn’t an investment in my own happiness, then I don’t know what is – the ritual of flipping the record and dropping the needle while gently caressing the sleeve… Ah, oh my god. Is this how crack feels like? Anyway, i’m gonna stop this 700-or-so word intro and get to the point before this turn into some semi erotic article about my love for my vinyls; Since acquiring a record player five months or so ago I’ve added a fair amount of records to my ever so growing collection (with the latest one being Rainbow’s ‘Rising’ for only £3 yesterday at Reckless Records in Soho, London – how?!), and in honour or this year’s record store day, which is today, I decided pick my current, and I cant emphasise this enough, current top 10 vinyls in my collection – all in completely random order as god knows it’d kill me to have to pick a favourite. So, without further ado, my thoroughly thought through, non chronological current top 10 vinyls in my collection:
Hällas – Excerpts From a Future Past
Acquired: Crypt of the Wizard
I first heard Hällas three years or so ago, but it wasn’t until last year I really gave them the time a day after randomly coming across an article about their newly released debut album ‘Excerpts From a Future Past’ – I checked out the album online, and I was sold – two seconds later I scroll through Instagram because I’m a slave to social media like most people in this sad society, and saw that heavy metal record store ‘Crypt of the Wizard’ had a few first pressings in stock – I rushed over, and managed to get my hands on a copy. This album, which I absolutely love, will take you on a cosmic journey through the middle ages, floating through time and space surrounded by Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies, Uriah Heep organ and sometimes even 80s synth. An absolute banger, and almost guaranteed that your dad will love it – mine did.
Motorpsycho – Behind the Sun
Aah, sweet, sweet Motorpsycho, fellow Norwegian countrymen and connoisseurs of psychedelic jams so intense it nearly crosses the border between pain and pleasure. Despite Motorpsycho being around since before I was even born, it wasn’t until later in life I managed to wrap my head around this band, which I dare say is one of Norway’s finest exports alongside Kvelertak, Turbonegro, oil and Black Metal, and I wouldn’t have discovered them without Shaman Elephant guitarist Eirik, who couldn’t bare the thought of me living my life without the pleasure Motorpsycho provides, so thank you, Eirik. As soon as I heard this album, I knew I needed it, and I needed it straight away, so when my local record stores failed me I turned to Amazon and their next day delivery, sat camp by the door and waited impatiently. This record really sweeps you off your feet, starting out sweet before all of a sudden emerging mellowed out tunes with explosive psychedelic jams, so intense you forget to breathe – my personal favourite on the record being closing track ‘Hell, Part 7: Victim of Rock’, which is very much the latter; a song that keeps building until you can’t take it anymore, before it drops into the most beautiful and chaotic organised mess you can even think of, leaving you gasping cause you haven’t exhaled for six minutes.
Robin Trower – Twice Removed from Yesterday
Acquired: Sister Ray Records
‘We all thought this guy would be the next big thing after Hendrix died.’ My dad told me when he first played me Robin Trower, who after the 60’s Procol Harum heydays formed a three piece and started releasing and performing music under his own name, ‘Twice Removed from Yesterday’ being the debut. After buying the album and listening through it, it didn’t take long to get the Hendrix comparison, as the similarity in their sound and way of playing is uncanny. This album starts out slow but beautiful, with three incredibly strong ballads showcasing Trower’s phenomenal guitar playing, before it kicks off and gets funky in ‘Man of the world’, later followed by the sleaziest version of ‘Rock me baby’ I have ever heard – this record is timeless. I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Robin Trower a few months ago and it was astonishing, being able to watch one of the greatest guitarists from a time when giants walked the earth, someone along the lines of Hendrix himself, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.
GNOB – Electric Dream Demon
Acquired: Gifted by the band
Since first coming across GNOB at The Bird’s Nest in South London two years ago they have swiftly risen to become one of my favourite bands in the underground music scene in London, as well as all very good friends of mine. Their eastern inspired psychedelia is a breath of fresh air on the scene, which for a long time was fronted predominately by heavier stoner bands. This album ‘Electric Dream Demon’ is their debut and an absolute gem of an album – the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, all while at the same time incredibly mellow and trippy, with beautiful, eerie and fuzzy vocals as well as a bunch of instrumental jams, which I’m a sucker for.
Motörhead – Overkill
1979, Lemmy had been kicked out of Hawkwind and his trippy space days were over – he had at this point successfully formed the loudest band in the world and managed to follow up their 1977 self titled debut album with what might just be the greatest Motörhead record to be ever made; Overkill. I wish I was there in 1979 when it was released, to be able to put it on my turntable not knowing what to expect, to then be hit with the most explosive opening track in the history of time. Rock ’n’ roll had come a long way from Elvis was for sure, and there you’ve got ‘Overkill’ coming at you at 150 miles per hour, fuelled by Jack Daniels and speed. In my eyes, this album is one hit after another, showcasing the very best of Motörhead. Picking a favourite track of the album ain’t easy, but let’s face it, ‘Stay Clean’ is pretty damn sweet, not often Lemmy would solo but when he did he did it spectacularly. An incredible album from beginning to end, play it loud as hell surrounded by friends and cheers to three of the finest hell raisers and rock ’n’ rollers the world ever saw – Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philty Animal’ Taylor.
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Acquired: Christmas present from my dad
I’ve been a fan of Deep Purple for as long as I can remember, and I dare say the Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice and Roger Glover era was nothing but sensational – I mean have you heard their Made in Japan album from 1972?! It’s simply astonishing, both political, funky and sleazy. They were kings of their time, there’s no doubt about it. One of my personal favourites from that lineup is 1972’s Machine Head, another album that’s just filled with one banger after another – ‘Pictures of Home’ one of my personal favourites offers all the solos your heart may desire; bass, guitar and even keys. Ah, don’t even get me started on the keys on this album, Jon Lord’s got ya covered from A-Z. The key intro to ‘Lazy’? Holy shit, epic. Thank you Jon Lord for that sweet Hammond beat.
Earthless – Black Heaven
Acquired: Gig in Islington Assembly Hall, London
Oh Earthless, where do I begin? Despite having created a whole wave of a new generation psych bands emerging from San Diego, there really is no other bands like Earthless. Musically they’re on a different level from any band I’ve ever seen, and they cease to amaze me with everything they do, whether it’s 20 minute long instrumental psych jams, or as on ‘Black Heaven’, structured songs with incredible vocals, where none of them crosses the nine minute mark. This album, despite being very different to former Earthless releases, is still very much an Earthless album, showcasing the skills of some of the best musicians of our generation. As far as seeing Earthless live goes, these guys are probably the closes you’ll ever get to see something along the lines of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Neil Merryweaher – Space Rangers
Canadian bassist Neil Merryweather’s been around for decades playing with artists such as Steve Miller, Rick James and Wilson Pickett, but it’s his 1974 solo album ‘Space Rangers’ that stole my heart. My first encounter with Merryweather was through other people’s songs, covering The Byrds’ 1966 single ‘Eight Miles High’, and might I add, doing so spectacularly, and Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’, also originally released in 1966, where he brings the funk like few Canadians dudes have done before him. With Merryweather being a bassist by heart, there is big focus on the bass for melody and not just rhythm, almost taking the place as a second guitar branching out onto solo-like territory. ‘Space Rangers’ touches base within a few different genres, with opening track ‘Hollywood Blvd’ bordering to a pop song, before venturing onto space rock, funk and psychedelia, and it has swiftly become a favourite in my record collection ever since I got my hands on it.
Truth & Janey – Topeka Jam
Released: 2018, recorded 1974
This explosive three piece took their name from Jeff Beck’s ‘Truth’ album and guitarist Billy Lee Janey, and they might just be one of 70’s Iowa’s best hidden treasures. Inspired by the great blues guitarists of the 60s, they were heavy like Pentagram, had the funk of Grand Funk, and the rawness of the stooges. Topeka Jam consists of a bunch of previously unreleased songs recorded over several nights in Topeka, Kansas in 1974, and sees the band venture on into endless fuzzy harmonies and jams, with the opening track (and might I add, only track on side one) ‘Midnight Horsemen’ (originally released as a 3 minute long single in 1972) being jammed out into the abyss for a whole psyched out 22 minutes. It’s a bold choice for an opening track indeed, but sets the bar high for the rest of the record, which only gets better and better.
Ramones – Ramones
Acquired: From my dad’s old record collection
When my dad gave away most of his record collection, he did keep a few for himself, his most precious possessions that he kept safe until passing them onto me a few years ago; His Ramones records. I grew up listening to the Ramones religiously, loving the simplicity, energy, but also vulnerability. I loved Joey the most, he was the tall space case and I liked to think I could relate to that. Ramones broke so much ground with what they did, despite how ‘simple’ it was compared to a lot of the other bands of the time – they invented punk and created the whole CBGBs scene, and toured and gigged relentlessly until the very end. Their self titled debut is a perfect example of what the Ramones were about, fast, catchy and short songs, some about what they wanna do, some about what they don’t wanna do, and some, quite a few actually, about love.