This is the vinyl you've been saving up for.
2016 saw vinyl sales overtake MP3 downloads for the first time ever. That’s probably the most important thing that happened in vinyl this year, but – and this is almost certainly related – 2016 also produced some of the most lust-worthy vinyl of recent years. Here are 17 of the best, which would also make perfect Christmas presents for the vinyl-lover in your life.
1. David Bowie – ‘Blackstar’
Notorious from the beginning of 2016 for being crammed with secrets, Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ is the vinyl that keeps on giving. The Blackstar secrets began with one discovery: shining a light through the gatefold towards the cover’s black star makes it light up with a starfield. Then it was found out that shining a blacklight on it makes the star and the album’s star ‘letters’ glow blue. Another fan has discovered that shining a torch on the booklet in a dark room, opposite a wall, will spark an array of colourful 3D images on the wall. And recently, the LP’s graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook revealed there are yet more secrets to be discovered…
2. Aliens OST reissue
This ‘Xenomorph Blood’ vinyl doesn’t look quite as cool or dramatic when it’s playing – the fluid just sort of pools around the sides – but how often do you see a vinyl encasing alien blood?
3. Black Sabbath – ‘The Ultimate Collection’
This four-disc LP contains 31 classics from Black Sabbath and, perhaps more importantly, it also folds out in the shape of a crucifix. It’s being billed as the Crucifold, which is an utterly perfect title. In this week’s Friday Album Club, NME‘s Leonie and Jordan talk about this and some more special vinyl released this year in some more detail.
4. Radiohead – ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ special edition
Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood recently described vinyl as ‘clothing’ for music. By that reasoning, this double LP would make any Radiohead fan feel underdressed. The beautiful photo album-style case – full of lyrics, embossed paper and Stanley Donwood’s artwork – comes wrapped with a unique clipping of master tape from previous Radiohead sessions, and many Radiohead fans have taken them to be deciphered at local studios. There’s even a Reddit thread dedicated to them all. This is a special edition that actually feels special.
5. Star Wars: the Force Awakens OST
John Williams is brilliant obviously, but also: look at it! This set of holographic vinyl displays a 3D TIE Fighter and a Millennium Falcon hovering above the disc when you shine a torch on it. Magical.
6. The Kills – ‘Ash & Ice’
It’s hard to know what’s better about The Kills’ latest vinyl set: the colour-coded vinyl or the punky lyric zine.
7. DIIV – ‘Is The Is Are’
Totally in line with the homemade-style album cover, this 500-run limited edition of DIIV’s ‘Is The Is Are’ vinyl set contains two marbled, colour-flecked discs, a wraparound alternate cover and a 32-page booklet of hand-written poetry and hand-drawn art. Welcome to the world of Zachary Cole Smith.
8. Gremlins OST
Break the rules and get the interior of this vinyl set wet – because doing so reveals some cool extra Gremlin drawings. Cool, right?
9. School of Seven Bells – ‘SVIIB’
Following the death of the band’s Benjamin Curtis from lymphoma in 2013, this last album from School of Seven Bells was finished by Alejandra Deheza from recordings the pair had made together before Curtis’ death. The beautiful vinyl matches the the tone of the music: ‘SVIIB’ is an album about transforming heartache into hope.
10. The 1975 – ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’
Translucent vinyl and an impeccably designed gatefold make The 1975’s second album a possession to cherish.
11. Stranger Things OST Vol. 1 & 2
The best thing about the Stranger Things soundtrack – by the guys from S U R V I V E – is that there are loads of vinyl editions, all of them cool. Check a few of them out below:
12. Jessica Jones & Daredevil OSTs
Your favourite Netflix/Marvel shows get colour-coded with these soundtrack vinyls.
13. Trainspotting OST reissue
Trainspotting‘s classic soundtrack defined 1996, and with this reissue you can have it in the film’s trademark orange.
14. Bastille – ‘Wild World’
You’ll only dislike the cool lenticular effect on Bastille’s latest if you have really bad vertigo.
15. Solange – ‘A Seat At The Table’
‘A Seat At The Table’ has a beautifully designed vinyl set, complete with a booklet of photography and lyrics, and a creative tracklisting that might change the way you process Solange’s latest album.
16. Drive OST reissue
The brilliant soundtrack to Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2011 film got a 5th anniversary reissue this year and it looks amazing.
17. Duran Duran – ‘Paper Gods’ box set reissue
If you don’t mind shelling out the money for this, it’s a beautiful collection – just check out the GIF below for proof.