A Beginner’s Guide To Vinyl: Pop Rock Records You Should Own

We’ve all been new to embracing vinyl at some point. Some of us jumped into record collecting because we long for a deeper experience than streaming and earbuds. Some because we believe that vinyl truly is the superior format. And some because of the pop culture shift — you know, vinyl is cool.

This list might be best suited for the beginner record collector, but even the most sophisticated collector needs a little nudge to get some of the best pop rock records into their vinyl collection. While not everyone will agree that the following records deserve a place in the canon or on your record shelves, this list of pop rock records is mostly driven by the Discogs Database and record collection data, with a touch of subjectivity based on cultural impact and commercial success. Those parameters should keep our primer clear of “The Dark Side Of The Moon” or “Rumors” (not that those aren’t great pop rock records, but the burnout is real).

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Black Sabbath Paranoid

Black Sabbath – Paranoid  (1970)

Paranoid” is the second, and arguably the most important, album from Black Sabbath‘s course to what ultimately becomes the Heavy Metal genre. Rolling Stone named “Paranoid” the “Greatest Metal Album Of All Time” and everyone needs a metal record in their life, right?

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: David Bowie Let's Dance

David Bowie – Let’s Dance (1983)

Bowie’s best selling LP of his career, “Let’s Dance” is full of 80’s Bowie greatness! Of note, “China Girl” was co-written by Iggy Pop and has Stevie Ray Vaughn shredding all over it. You can’t deny Side A of this record, nor can you deny it from your collection

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Joy Division Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Only 10,000 copies of “Unknown Pleasure“were originally pressed, and despite Factory never releasing a single, Joy Division’s debut is cemented in history as “simply one of the best records ever made” according to NME. Why would you not want one of the best records ever made in your collection?

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: The Police Synchronicity

The Police – Synchronicity (1983)

The final record from The Police and the band’s most successful. Fun fact about “Synchronicity,” it interrupted the dominance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the U.S. charts for 17 weeks. A giant-killer of sorts, but definitely a band-killer as this record turned out to be their last.

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Radiohead In Rainbows

Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)

The seventh record from Radiohead is ultimately historic as it was the first major release by an artist implementing the “pay what you want download” that shook the music industry in 2007. A pre-order box set was available that includes a 2xLP 12” 45 version of the record — maybe not the one you want to hunt down for your collection, but I’m sure those that own it are pretty happy it’s averaging over $150 on Discogs.

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: The Cure Disintegration

The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

Disintegration” still stands as The Cure’s commercial peak. In “Never Enough: The Story Of The Cure” it’s noted that the sound of the album was a shock to Elektra Records and the label requested Smith shift the release date back several months. Smith recalled, “They thought I was being ‘wilfully obscure.’ Ever since then I realised that record companies don’t have a fucking clue what The Cure does and what The Cure means.” We should all get a clue and get this one in our collections immediately!

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Lou Reed Transformer

Lou Reed – Transformer (1972)

Transformer” is Reed’s second record and co-produced by David Bowie. Yes, this is the album that contains “Walk On The Wild Side”, but dive in because “Hangin’ ‘Round” and “Satellite of Love” are some of Lou Reed‘s best reasons to add “Transformer” to your collection and a great introduction to Reed’s overall discography.

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Talking Heads

Talking Heads – Remain In Light (1980)

The Library of Congress deemed “Remain In Light” “culturally, historically, and artistically significant,” selecting it for preservation in the National Recording Registry earlier this year. Ultimately an experiment in sound, rhythm, and writing by the collective, “Remain In Light” was one of their worst selling records. The idea that “Remain In Light” would one day be an iconic recording is drowning in the irony of “success.”

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: The Clash Combat Rock

The Clash – Combat Rock (1982)

It’s too cliché to pick “London Calling” if we’re being honest. Yes, it’s a must-have album, but so is “Combat Rock” and with songs like “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and “Rock The Casbah,” it was The Clash’s most commercially successful record — so pick it up. It’s really, really, really good.

Pop rock records every collector should own on vinyl: Blondie's Parallel Lines

Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

Parallel Lines” represented a time where punk and new wave hit a much larger audience, and its an important record for that reason, but you’ll really want this so that you can play “Heart Of Glass” over and over. Fun fact, “Heart Of Glass” was the THIRD single the label chose from this record.

Get these classic Pop Rock records in your collection today!

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12 Comments
  • Nov 16,2018 at 4:02 am

    Every word JayJayN said! You just trust your own taste and aesthetic direction. And experiment. Buy the unknown, just to see. Within reason, of course… But if you end up buying something you don’t like, someone else will certainly want to have it, so you get read of it, and make somebody else happy. :-)

  • Nov 14,2018 at 1:45 am

    This music is basically the core of the JACK FM rotation list. Why would anyone bother to write or read this article?

    I could join in the mean-spirited dissection of this list all day. I think a more positive approach would be to say that readers of a Discogs blog article are more sophisticated consumers of music than the editorial staff has in mind. It wouldn’t hurt next time to aim higher.

  • Sep 5,2018 at 12:26 am

    The best beginners guide is to use your common sense, your gut feeling, your ears. Collect what you like, don’t buy or get rid of music you don’t like. If we’re supposed to believe these lists presented here in the so-called beginners guides we would all listen to the same music. Investigate, read reviews, buy, try, listen end form your opinions abt what you like and what you don’t like. Above all, Njoy. Cheers 🍻

  • Sep 4,2018 at 10:27 pm

    How about a beginners guide in writing a beginners guide? This list makes no sense what so ever.

  • Dec 27,2017 at 7:50 pm

    Hmmm, I can play my 33 & 45 records on my Technics SL-10 linear tracking turntable; if I want to play the 78s, then I’ll have to dig out my Dual CS-5000 turntable.

  • Dec 27,2017 at 10:57 am

    what do i need to own in order to have something to say at the next after work party? and by the way: don’t forget to buy a retro turntable at urban outfitters and most of all don’t forget to take the time to listen to those records :-)))

  • Nov 16,2017 at 8:12 pm

    Eventually I suppose. Stuck in the late 70s and 80s? No Elvis, Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, Led Zep, Floyd, U2, Nirvana? I could go on. AB

  • Sep 23,2017 at 2:33 pm

    “you’ll really want this so that you can play “Heart Of Glass” over and over”

    No, you’ll really want this so you can play the whole album over and over. Buying Parallel Lines and only listening to Heart Of Glass would be a travesty.

  • Sep 20,2017 at 10:35 pm

    No way… internet music snob trolls on a vinyl website!?!? Whoa.

    All great records!

  • Aug 22,2017 at 9:15 pm

    GruveRecords… it says “Pop/Rock” :)

  • Aug 19,2017 at 6:05 pm

    All great records no doubt – though arguably not the artists best in many cases ( Clash, Bowie, Cure, police) But thats best of lists for you and if we all agreed on this type of list it would be amazing.

    What I dont understand is the connection with ‘Vinyl’ – what to me is a still a record. They are great if you listen on CD , record, mp3, itunes, spotify or even tape . And Pop Rock is certainly not what most of these are.

  • Aug 19,2017 at 5:08 pm

    No way that half of these should be considered “Pop”. Beginner list written by a beginner..?

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