Listening to hit oldies feels nostalgic for those who lived through earlier music eras, and can feel brand new for those who didn’t grow up hearing the well-known hits. Although sounds from the ‘50s and ‘60s are what traditionally classify oldies music, this categorization can go back to the early 1930s and ‘40s and up to the 1980s and into the ‘90s.
It doesn’t matter where on the timeline throwback songs fall. Any music of the past that’s still relevant and enjoyed today can be considered a golden oldie. Narrowing down the best oldies vinyl records depends on the genre as much as the year the album was released. Oldies cover everything from jazz and bebop to country music and classic rock and all the great artists and songs in between. We’re covering a little bit of it all in our picks for top oldies favorites.
#1 Frank Sinatra - My Way (1969)
It’d be remiss to have a best oldies vinyl records list without including the croon of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” himself. Frank Sinatra’s My Way record was first issued in 1969 but lives on today as one that’s listened to often.
His songs are timeless and take people back to a time of lounge singers and tinkling pianos. “My Way” is one of Sinatra's most beloved songs and can be found halfway through this iconic album.
#2 Etta James - At Last/Sings for Lovers (1962)
Etta James’ sultry voice made its stamp on the rhythm and blues genre that lit up the 1960s. “At Last” is her most popular hit and has been reinterpreted by multiple artists throughout the decades. However, no one can match her vocals heard on her album At Last/Sings for Lovers.
It’s a pleasing blend of jazz and soul sounds with ten tracks sung for anyone in love. It’s the perfect record to play with a glass of wine and a roaring fireplace in the background.
#3 Al Green - Greatest Hits (1979)
Another music icon from the R&B and soul era is Al Green. His Greatest Hits album, released in 1979, contains some of his most loved songs, including the timeless “Let’s Stay Together.” Other hits from this ten-track album include “Love and Happiness” and “I Can’t Get Next to You.”
The silky smooth sounds of Green’s vocals create an easy listening aesthetic for generations old and new. It’s upbeat but not fast-paced, both soulful and catchy at the same time. Listening to his music on vinyl is the ideal soundtrack for a lazy weekend morning.
#4 The Temptations - Gettin’ Ready (1966)
You can’t have a list of the best oldies vinyl records and not include a significant contributor to the Motown sound. The Temptations were one of the main faces of this category of music, with ‘60s hits that had influences of R&B, jazz, and soul all wrapped into one.
The Temptations’ Gettin’ Ready record was initially released on the historic Motown record label and was the first album without Smokey Robinson as the main producer. Music fans will instantly recognize hit songs, including “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and the album’s title track “Get Ready.”
#5 Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
Music legend Michael Jackson came up through the Motown era as well as part of his family group, The Jackson 5. He went on to create a monumental solo career and is considered one of the best recording artists of all time. His Grammy-award-winning Thriller was released by Epic Records in 1982. Thriller was a follow-up to his successful Off the Wall album released in 1979.
Seven singles on the record reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, including the title track, “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “P.Y.T. Pretty Young Thing.” Though it came to rise in the ‘80s, this record deserves to be on any list of best oldies vinyl records still in heavy rotation today.
#6 Prince - 1999
Another prolific artist that left his stamp on ‘80s pop and R&B was Prince. 1999 is his fifth studio album, which was released in 1982. It was his first album that reached the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and the first to feature his band, the Revolution.
The double vinyl LP pressing includes top singles, including “1999” and “Little Red Corvette.” As an artist, Prince had a signature sound and performing style that draws fans worldwide.
#7 Van Halen - 1984
A classic rock record collection wouldn’t be complete without the sounds of Van Halen. The remastered limited vinyl LP pressing of their 1984 album features their legendary songs “Jump” and “Hot for Teacher,” and others that soundtracked the decade. Mastering engineer Chris Bellman is credited for preserving the original sound of the collectible by cutting straight from quarter-inch tapes to be played on vinyl.
#8 Mariah Carey - Mariah Carey (1990)
Though her music is still relevant in today’s modern music world, it’s been several decades since Mariah Carey first hit the music scene. Her debut album Mariah Carey has been remastered for vinyl collectors who want to relive her pop hits and five-octave vocal range.
Songs like “Vision of Love,” “Someday,” and “Love Takes Time,” solidified her presence as a vocal powerhouse. Mariah Carey may not be the first artist that comes to mind as an oldie but goodie, but her music still fits the bill.
#9 Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (2006)
Amy Winehouse changed the game for popular music in the early 2000s by releasing her Back to Black album. Known for her bouffant hair and jazzy vocal style, she evoked the feel of oldies from decades past.
As a singer-songwriter, she put her heart and soul into her lyrics with hits like “Me and Mr. Jones,” “Rehab,” and “You Know I’m No Good.” Her music mixed the old with the new and brought timeless sounds back to mainstream with her records.
#10 Hank Williams - 20 Greatest Hits (1968)
Another notable record maker that deserves a spot on the best oldies vinyl records list is country music’s Hank Williams. The limited vinyl LP pressing of his impressive collection of music covers fan favorites “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Honky Tonk Blues.”
Williams recorded over 60 songs before his death at the young age of 29, and his music has influenced artists throughout the years. His name is revered among country music and his sound is as iconic today as it was when it was originally released.
#11 Johnny Cash - Greatest Hits & Favorites (2010)
Country music artist Johnny Cash also made a name for himself during his heyday. Known for his deep vocals and rebel spirit, songs from his Greatest Hits & Favorites album include “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Guess Things Happen That Way.”
A collector’s dream, this compilation album has 48 of his best-known tracks on remastered vinyl. Though rooted in country music, Johnny Cash also incorporated folk and rock genres and used his lyrics to energize audiences and create a sound all his own.
#12 The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die (1994)
Nearly all hip-hop fans would agree The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die album is one of the best oldies vinyl records there is. Though rap and hip hop aren’t generally categorized under the oldies umbrella, there’s no denying there are plenty of throwback jams that are worth being considered quintessential old school.
The Notorious B.I.G. came to rise in notoriety in the ‘90s. He has influenced artists over the past few decades with his lyrical sound. This double vinyl LP pressing of the artist’s debut includes his hit single “Juicy,” among others.
#13 Kanye West - College Dropout (2004)
As with other artists that rose to fame in the ‘80s and beyond, Kanye West’s debut album College Dropout deserves a spot as one of the best oldies vinyl records there is. Those who grew up listening to his music on CD or iPod can experience his music and lyrics differently through the special edition double vinyl LP.
This record has been named one of the greatest albums of all time by both Time and Rolling Stone magazines. It features radio hits including “Through the Wire,” “Jesus Walks,” and “Slow Jamz.” Depending on where you are in your musical journey, this may not be the oldest of the oldies and goodies in your record collection, but it may still be worth snagging this vinyl record.
Time to starting listening
The great thing about music and those who love it is there are no hard and fast rules. Although the term “oldies” was originally intended for the generation of jazz, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll hits emerging in the ‘50, ‘60s, and ‘70s, there limits for what type of music can be considered.
Oldies is defined by music that takes you back to another time in music history. Whether it’s music you grew up listening to or albums passed down from your parents and grandparents, the songs of today will eventually be oldies of tomorrow. Whether you’re listening to oldies, rock, or anything in between, make sure you’re getting the most out of your experience with a vinyl record player that not only produces quality sound, but also matches your aeshetic appeal.
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