Those who enter my apartment will notice one thing as soon as they enter. Well… They’ll notice a hat stand, first. Definitely the hat stand since it’s right in front of the door. Maybe the picture hanging on the wall made by my sister-in-law. Okay, okay. And maybe third they’ll notice my other pictures hanging up on the wall. But fourth! Fourth, they will notice an large record collection. Not extremely large, not gargantuan by any means, but large nonetheless. My dad gave me all the records he’d compiled over 35 years of collecting when I moved out a year ago, and they’re front and center in my living space.
I love vinyl. I love the smell of record sleeves. I love the feel of the plastic on your fingertips. I love the pops and hisses that start as soon as the little diamond needle hits the vinyl. I love everything about it. So since I have a collection to begin with, I might as well continue buying it, right? I mean I might have a lot of records, but you can always have more. I’ve gotten quite a few records over the last month, and I thought I’d share my favorites with you.
5) Martin Hamlisch, The Sting Soundtrack
The Sting is one of those movies that’ll never lose its flair. Every piece of the movie, actors, setting, soundtrack, all play together so well. Of course they do. Any movie staring Robert Redford and Paul Newman is going to be in the top 10 greatest movies of all time right off the bat, but the soundtrack pushes it into a league of its own. The Sting, for those who don’t know, takes place in 1936, and although the music in its soundtrack was composed decades earlier, Martin Hamlisch adapted the music of Scott Joplin for the film perfectly. You might not know him by name, but you know his music. If you want something to just sit back and relax to while reading a book, this is the album for you. All instrumental, all ragtime, all awesome.
4) Eddy Arnold, All-Time Favorites
Eddy Arnold, without a doubt, has one of the greatest voices of all time. In his first studio album, he compiles some of his favorite songs all on one disc, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to. His backing band works perfectly with his rhythm and timing without being overtly country. At this point, I’d really classify him as pop music. It’s not nearly as country as his early/mid ’60s stuff gets. He gets a little jazzy, a little rocky, a little country-y, a little of everything, and that’s what makes this album so good. I’ve had I’m Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away the Key) stuck in my head for the last three days. But there are worse earworms to have, right?
3) Nena, 99 Luftballons / 99 Red Balloons
99 Luftballons is one of those songs that you can’t not love. I have no idea what she’s saying (except for when she says ‘Captain Kirk’), and I hate the English version that’s on the b-side, but that doesn’t keep me from loving this record. I found it at the beginning of the month at a place here in town, but it was just the American release, and who wants that? They also wanted $10 for it. I got this one for $3. Boom.
2) Led Zeppelin, Whole Lotta Love / Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just a Woman)
As you can tell by me having two 45 rpm’s on this list, I love collecting singles. They’re cheap, they’re usually the best songs on a particular album, and they come with a story. They were inside a jukebox or radio station and people actually played these because they wanted to listen to them. Someone walked over to a jukebox and picked this song in particular to listen to. Pretty cool, I think.
And no single speaks to me more than Whole Lotta Love. Starting out Led Zeppelin II with a cough and a wheeze, this song pulls you in and keeps you listening on the edge of your seat. I can’t think of another Zeppelin song that rocks as hard as this one – or is as overtly sexual. Well… Maybe Lemon Song, but this is about Whole Lotta Love. The guitar solo is brilliant, symbolizing the peak of sexual pleasure after a long, crazy jam session. I still remember jamming to this album in my room when I was in 7th grade, sliding the time bar on my iPod back to the beginning of the solo to listen to it again and again.
1) Marty Robbins, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
There are a few albums that I will buy constantly. Forever. I will buy every single copy of The Kinks’ “Lola Versus the Powerman and the Money-go-round Part I” I ever see, for instance. I will also buy every copy of Marty Robbins’ “Gunfighter Ballads and Trailsongs” I ever find. Why, you ask? Because it’s an absolutely fantastic album. It’s not particularly rare. It’s not worth particularly much. But I went on a scavenger hunt for this record for 6 months. The feeling of joy I got, and still get, when I stumbled upon this record for the first time is immeasurable.
Every song on this album is fantastic. Robbins’ voice is beautiful, and each bit of music transports you back to the wild west with wonderful tales of … well, gunfights and trail rides. From the showdowns in Big Iron to the love tragedy of El Paso and the trail riding of Utah Carol, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is a must have. I really don’t know what switch flipped in my head that I’m craving this kind of old-school country music now. Kelsey claims it’s due to my last play through of Fallout New Vegas, but I’m not quite sure. This is the kind of music that transports you back to a simpler time, and I highly recommend picking up a copy of this if you’re into that kind of thing.