Vinyl records every man should have
If ever there was a retro trend universally approved, it has to be the comeback of the record. Even Gen-Z music lovers appreciate hearing tunes, old or new, from the needle on the vinyl LP the way music was long before they were born.
Like a good sipping bourbon, one should assume then an actual turntable player is a must have for the home. But what albums should one have on hand for entertaining house guests? We posed that question to our team, who then posed it to others and came up with a few entries. This list is a start. We’d love for you to jump in the comments and add other gems you recommend.
These are our starter kid for essential albums for home entertaining.
Paul’s Boutique – The Beastie Boys
Everything from the nostalgia your guests will have as sample after another triggers some dust-laden memories to the underdog wins storyline of alleged one-hit wonders manufacturing one of the few musical masterpieces of the 1980s makes Paul’s Boutique an easy list topper. Though not a critical or commercial hit at the time, the second studio offering from Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D became a genre-changing milestone.
The range of the album is what impresses us most. The cutting lyrical jabs are both playground juvenile and oddly prophetic, so the casual gathering elicits stimulating conversation. But the clever hooks and whimsical samples draw people to the dance floor in larger, louder get-togethers.
Struttin’ – The Meters
If you can’t place a song by The Meters from memory, it’s likely because you don’t know the names. But you know the tunes. Close your eyes and think of a 60s/70s era funk riff. Chances are, that’s a Meters song.
Playing this disc while your guests mill about will inevitably make someone walk slow-motion style and imagine they’re making a grand entrance in a Tarantino film. Keep the album running and you’ll certainly decrease the chances anyone will have a Tarantino-like exit, ya dig?
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen
Sure, it’s creeping close to 50 years old, but if you haven’t spun this disc just for your own edification, stop reading and go do that now. This record is Springsteen before he was The Boss, but you can tell his about to grab the title.
For just seven songs, this album has a little bit of everything. Wild Billy’s Circus Story has a very singer-songwriter vibe. The E Street Shuffle and Rosalita (Come out Tonight) are danceable rock hits with a dash of rhythm and blues. And the full-band mastery mixed with Springsteen’s uncanny storytelling just makes this album beautiful.
Oh … and Clarence Clemons. You can’t have a house party without some Clarence humming in the background.
Jazz Samba – Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
For the MadMen fans out there, this record had to be playing at any of Don Draper’s parties. It was the album that ushered in the Bossa Nova craze in the U.S. in the early 1960s and still holds up for a great mood setter.
Stan Getz’s saxophone is warming, like a fireplace where your friends inevitably gather. And Charlie Byrd’s guitar is light and soothing, the way the masters played before amplifiers and distortion made everyone just want to be loud.
Dynamite – Jamiroquai
The audio seascape of anything by Jamiroquai is something worth marveling. Every cut on Dynamite instantly makes you bop, sway, groove or swing, so if it’s a casual dance party you’re looking for, this is your jam.
Ironically, not enough people are Jamiroquai-savvy, so these tunes can create a funky, fun atmosphere without anyone’s “favorite song ever” interrupting good conversation.
Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes
Let’s be honest — We could listen to Brittany Howard sing the phone book and walk away as if touched by an angel. Put her in front of a band of killer musicians with the perfect combination of rock, funk, soul and Southern flair and, well, you have what they call, “ambience.”
Several cuts on this gem of a record rock hard, so watch the volume if you don’t want to disturb conversation. Or don’t if you want to light a fire under it.
3 Pears – Dwight Yoakam
For those who prefer a little country flare to your entertaining, we recommend a little cowboy punk with 3 Pears from Dwight Yoakam. Not only is this relatively recent album one of the Kentucky native’s most critically acclaimed, but it has a wonderful sheen of optimism on songs like Take Hold of My Hand and Waterfall you don’t normally hear from country songs.
Not to mention the album was produced by Beck. How can it not be amazing?
Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! – Frank Sinatra
Who doesn’t love a good Sinatra croon? Granted, the title is a bit dated, but the silky baritone and familiar tunes will make your guests feel oddly at home in an instant.
Just be careful to keep your Karaoke-loving friend on a limit or the volume — both of the record and him — will shoot up at some point.
2112 – Rush
Prog Rock’s holy grail and with lyrics inspired by Ayn Rand, Rush’s 1976 offering turned an interesting trick. It was a make or break album for the band. It not only helped them make it as a successful trio, but broke the mold of rock albums of the era.
Yes, true Rush fans will tell you the only way to experience 2112 is to put on the headphones, turn up the volume and lose yourself in the theatrics. But that’s exactly what makes it magic playing lightly while you entertain guests. Stopping to listen on occasion is to be expected. Head nodding along with riffs on others is as well.