Not having done a ’Vinyl Stories’ for a while, I thought I would hamper my fellow writers here at Pennyblackmusic to the point where they divulged their yearly cravings for the black wax. Have you ever wondered what the critics and writers are listening to? I let snow man off with this! I managed to get some really good choices and most of our long serving colleagues and wise men are present. Here is an insight into whet they have been buying this year! These are all genuine buys and I haven't Stollen anybody elfs’ ideas. Yep, there are some real crackers! Feast your mince pies on this...


Given the cost, I tend to only buy albums on vinyl I am 100% sure I will like, so here you get a mix of recent-ish albums that I didn't buy on release but subsequently realised I NEEDED a copy of and new releases from well-established favourites, where I was confident enough to go straight for the top price option! The last album is a reissue of a classic debut release, available for the first time on vinyl. I will be listening to all of these for years to come!

This year, I have added the following vinyl records to my collection...

Seed Ensemble/Driftglass
The National/I Am Easy To Find
Angie Mcmahon/Salt
Wolf Alice/Visions Of A Life
Roddy Woomble/Everyday Sun EP
Bruce Springsteen/Letter To You
Bob Dylan/Rough and Rowdy Ways
Lianne Le Havas/Lianne Le Havas
Muncie Girls/B Sides: The Point EP


Phoebe Bridgers/Punisher

Was hoping that it would match the intensity, beauty and openness of her first album mixed with a little of her music with Better Oblivion Community Centre. It does.

Sven Wunder/Eastern Flowers

I also bought his latest album, ‘Wabi Sabi’ but this has the edge for me. Wonderful arrangements mixing traditional and modern instruments, there’s nothing else quite like it.

Various Artists/This is Soul(Compilation on Atlantic)

To replace my original copy from 1968 which is totally worn out. My first real introduction to soul music. Only a dozen tracks but each one a classic.

Status Quo/Picturesque Matchstickable Messages

A double album reissue along with ‘Spare Parts’ containing both mono and stereo versions. Again, to replace worn-out originals. Quo’s early forays into psychedelia have never, like the Bee Gees first album, been given the credit they deserve.


Bathers/Lagoon Blues
Bathers/Kelvingrove Baby

I have long been a fan of the Glasgow band The Bathers’ and their unique form of orchestral rock. I bought their 1987 debut single, ‘Fancy Dress’, and their first two albums all on vinyl when they came out. Their latter albums, were only, however, released on CD. When I heard that the classic trio of albums that they recorded for the German indie label Marina between 1993 and 1998 were being re-released on vinyl, I could not resist buying them. Over twenty years on, they still stand up well, and, released on vinyl in a remastered version, sound better than ever.

It’s Immaterial/House for Sale

I must admit that I didn't know much about the Liverpool indie band It's Immaterial before our photographer Darren Aston at Pennyblackmusic talked me into doing an interview to accompany some photos he was taking of their vocalist John Campbell to coincide with their first album in almost thirty years, 'House for Sale'. I am very glad that he did. It's a gorgeous, sublime piece of Blue Nile-esque pop and has become one of my favourite albums of the year. It’s often the artwork which makes the difference for me between buying an album on CD or vinyl, and the artwork for this is superb, an untitled 1948 painting of a Stockport factory by Nicholas Horsfield who taught Campbell at the Liverpool Art School in the 1970s and where he now himself teaches.

European Sun/European Sun

I had to buy his on either vinyl or download/stream as there is no CD edition, and I wasn’t buying it on download as, while I will listen to music that way for review purposes. I otherwise loathe downloads in all their facelessness and anonymity. European Sun’s frontman Steve Miles is a very talented songwriter, both thoughtful and thought-provoking. The packaging for this is again superb and pays sly tongue-in-cheek homage to ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ featuring, instead of a banana, an ice cream cone. It also appears on a beautiful white vinyl.

Ist Ist/Architecture

I was tempted into buying this debut album from Ist Ist after our writer Adrian Janes both reviewed ‘Architecture’ and interviewed them. The cover of this with a stark monochrome photo of what looks like a futuristic concrete bunker set against a white backdrop reminds me of something that Peter Saville might have designed. Any brooding post-punk band from Manchester is always going to inevitably draw comparisons with Joy Division, and there is an element of them about Ist Ist but equally so they remind me of Pixies.


John FaheyBlind Joe Death

I saw the comedian Marc Maron playing a John Fahey record on his Instagram stories (how very 2020) and had to look him up immediately. I love fingerstyle guitar and people like...and this really scratches that itch. The artwork has a really nice, clean, minimal design too.

Illuminati Hotties/FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You've Been Waiting For

The album so good, I bought it twice. Got his as a digital album first but then thought better of it and got the vinyl version too. It's just fantastic. It was written and produced quickly to meet a contractual obligation, but turned out to be fantastic in its own right.

Angel Olsen/Whole New Mess

Aside from two new songs, this is all stripped back versions of the songs from Olsen's 2019 album ‘All Mirrors’. I actually prefer these more intimate versions of the songs. Angel Olsen is one of my favourite songwriters.

Phoebe Bridgers/Punisher

Bridgers is a great and prolific songwriter and this record is a must-have for anyone who likes to sit back and get introspective every now and then.

Kevin Morby/Sundowner

Morby and his girlfriend Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) are a musical powerhouse (she also had a fantastic record out this year, but for some reason I haven't picked it up on vinyl - yet). This is a great Americana/folk record that conjures images of wide open vistas and endless skies.

James Brown/Live at the Apollo Theatre

Earlier this year I caught up with Chadwick Boseman's phenomenal performance as James Brown in the biopic Get On Up, and it occurred to me I didn't actually own any of Brown's records. My brother suggested I should start with this live album, and as usual he was right. It's short, but is it ever sweet.


Here's the rundown of my purchases!. Excluding the ones from my Year 2020 Album Top 10 and My Review of 2020's 7 and 12 Inch Singles.

Ex-Terrestrial/Gamma Infolded

Could be a Planet µ or Warp LP. Moulding Venetian Snares with flares of Boards of Canada.

Conjunto Papa Upa/Libre Para Amar LP.

Fumaça Preta called it quits and this followed next from the NYC/Venezolana Connección. Psychedelic tropicana.


Felix Kubin's latest. Not as irate as some of his but big buzzing tunes.

Zion Train/Illuminate

Upfront dub reggae that became essential in the light of 2020's events.

Sharhabil Ahmed/The King of Sudanese Jazz

A blast from the past. Every wedding should have this played loud and repeatedly.

Philip Bradatsch/Jesus von Haidhausen

Hamburg's answer to Bukowski, Dylan and Jarvis, set to 1970’s rock soul music.

Bananagun/Out of Reach

Bought this because of the exotic twang instrumental B-Side. From Melbourne. There's still hope for Australia. Na-na-na-na-na.

Vladislav Delay, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare/500 Push-Up.

The famous riddim twins join forces with Helsinki electronica artist.

Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo/Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawaangolo

1979 Lee Perry production of Congolese duo, remastered for full effect.

Ulveblod/Omnia Mors Aequat EP,

Blithering black metal flirting with minimalism and drone music.


What an interesting record buying year! Since March like most of us I have been unable to just browse through the racks or go in search of something you might just fancy. But then exactly where did I outlay my pension this year?

My birthday is in February so there is a great excuse for a couple of desirable pieces (including Katie Spencer’s ‘Weatherbeaten’) and just before Lockdown my local record shop (Music in the Green) did me an amazing part exchange for ‘The Beatles White Album/Esher Sessions’ which made an old man extremely happy.

So to Lockdown. Disaster arrived with the demise of my trusty Project turntable so funds were made available for a replacement. A Regar Planar 1 took its place next to my Roksan Amp and I spent some pleasurable hours with old favourites before the buying itch had to be scratched!

I must admit actually listing my purchases on vinyl compared to CD buying and listening on streaming services (sorry) through the year poses some questions. Why buy the CD instead of vinyl and vice versa ?What is my criteria in making that choice? How often do I act on impulse? How annoying is it when there is no vinyl release of something you really dig? (Michael Benita's ‘Looking at Sound’ ’on E.C.M.)

Surely music is the ultimate seductress.

I finally set foot in a record shop in September. Apart from food shopping this was actually the only public venue of any sort since March I set foot in.This only happened because we were house/cat sitting and 5 Rise Records in Bingley not only is close to the house we were in but on previous visits the lads in there are passionate , helpful and know their stuff. I had cash burning a hole in my pocket. I relieved them of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan’s ‘9 Emotions’ that I had been streaming and and two record store albums (Durutti Column and ‘A Haunting Strip of Marshland’ by O.S.)
Five minutes later we are back in lockdown. So my year of vinyl slowly draws to a close...I have already pre ordered two albums for the New Year…Oh yeah and the vinyl of The Amorphous Androgynous’s’We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal’ is due tomorrow as I write.

So here is the list not in purchasing order:

Katie Spencer/Weather Beaten
Cinderwell/No Summer
Jenny Sturgeon/The Living Mountain
Alison Cotton/Only Darkness Now
Yorkston,Thorne and Khan/ 9 Emotions
Field Lines Cartographer/ Spectral Isle
Durutti Column/Vini Reilly
O.S./Haunting Strip of Marshland
Beatles/White Album and Esher Demos
Paarvoharju/Fonal Years Vol.2
Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus/Songs of Yearning andNocturn
Bohren Club der Gore/Patchouli Blue

St.Germain/St Germain
Sarathay Korwar/My East is Your West
Kazuya Nagaya/Dream Interpretation
Hiroshi Yoshimura/Music for 9 Postcards
Wax Fang/Earth Song of Silence
Caoimhin O’Raghallaig/Thomas Bartlett
Efterklang/Alti Sammen
Efterklang/Pyramida Concert
Olafur Arnalds:/Island Songs
Osi and the Jupiter/Nordlige Runnaskog.

Sonido Polifonico/Lathe cut collectors editions.
Sulis Noctis/One
Trappist Afterland/Allegory of Stars
Left Outsides/As Night Falls


Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes/Get Out (And Let Me Cry) - Phil LA of Soul 7” 1965

Also released on Landa and later on Route as well as this edition on Phil LA of Soul, I have been after this one for a long time.

Tommy Neil/Going to a Happening - UK Vocalion 7” 1967

One of Northern Soul’s anthems. If you want to know what Northern is give this a listen.

Lee Dorsey/Ride Your Pony – Stateside 7” 1965

An original mod youth club sound that is just screaming to be covered today.

Connie Haynes/What's Easy for Two is Hard for One – Motown Demo 7” 1963

The lesser known version but in my mind the best. Found a demo version for good money.

Symarip/Skinhead Moon Stomp – Treasure Isle 7” 1969

Original Ska that never grows old. Continuing my fascination with black music of all kinds.

Stevie Wonder/Contract on Love – Tamla 7” 1962

Wonder’s first release on the huge Tamla label, a sublime 60’s R&B introduction to a future star.

Pat Kelly/How Long Will it Take? – Gas 7” 1969

Biggest selling Jamaican record in this year. If you haven’t heard this, beware, it’s catchy.

Dawn Penn/Blue Yes Blue – Prince Buster 7” 1967

Previously unreleased an obscure outing from the ‘no no no’ girl. Makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck every time I play this.

Ben E King/Cry No More - Atco 7” 1965

One of Ben E King’s lesser known tracks from ‘65. I love his voice. Top northern soul.

Andy & Joey/You’re Wondering now – C&N 7” 1964

One I’ve been after for a long while on this label. My Dad would have loved this. Keeps me remembering a sorely missed and forever thought of human being.

The Precisions/If This is Love (I’d Rather Be Lonely ) – Drew 7” 1967

Unbelievable nighter sound from ‘67. I had this a while ago and sold it for some stupid reason.

The Volcanos/It’s Against the Laws of Love – Arctic 7” 1965

Another class nighter sound that stands the test of time.


The Who/Who

I haven't bought much new vinyl for years, but the one I picked up in 2020 was a picture disc of Who by The Who. It came with the tickets I bought to see the band play in front of a crowd of a few hundred at a converted cinema in south-west London, organised by local record shop Banquet Records. An amazing show, with Daltrey's voice still in fine form after all these years. The record is not bad, either.

The Taking of Pelham 123 OST

Picked this one up on eBay having coveted a copy for some time. The film is incredible, a taut, lean and funny heist movie, and the David Shore soundtrack - pumping 70s NYC funk - is perfect.

Vera Lynn/Hits of the Blitz

Found this in a used record shop a few months before Vera Lynn died, mainly beacuse I found its remarkable cover funny: it shows the singer apparently posing in the ruins of a bombed London building, despite it having been released seventeen years after the war ended. I'll be honest: I haven't listened to it since I bought it.

Nina Simone/Black Gold

Bear with me. When I saw the towering Bill Drummond speak at a book event last year he played one or two songs, one of which was Fairport Convention's recording of the Sandy Denny song ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’, which he described as the song he'd want played at his funeral. Remembering that, I recently Googled the same song and discovered that Nina Simone had also recorded it, and that I could find it on this live album, which I was able to find on eBay. Another wonderful cover design.

The Monkees/Headquarters

I came to this in a roundabout way, via hip hop artist Del tha Funkee Homosapien's 1991 single ‘Mistadobalina’, which samples a line from the Monkees track ‘Zilch’, which itself comes from this album, the band's third and the first that was really "theirs" rather than created for them by others.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit OST

One of the finest films of the 1980s, a love story to Old Hollywood, and Old Los Angeles, describing a city and an industry on the cusp of great change, which at the same time tells a meta-story about how, some forty-five years later, the same industry was about to make another great change, from hand-drawn animation to computer-generated filmmaking. The soundtrack is as carefully chosen as everything else in the film, and it never fails to remind me of those things.


I've found the pandemic has pushed my musical listening away from anything particularly subtle. My 2020 vinyl purchases definitely reflect this. Among my favourites is the post-rock live album 'A Document of the Last Set' from That Fucking Tank and the odd (and oddly brilliant) 'Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear' where punks Hard Skin have female guest artists to do vocals on their spoof Oi songs. There have also been few weeks where I haven't played Jeff Rosenstock's 'No Dream', or listened to something from Riz Ahmed's 'The Long Goodbye'. Finally - I have to mention 'Now That's What I Call Disappointment' by Michael M. I bought that purely on the basis of the tracklisting (picture attached). It does not disappoint.

In a strange year when there has been a reduction in musical output with no gigs and no festivals it seems that vinyl has ben the format that we have turned to, to get us through. Music will always be a healer and vinyl will always be apart of the healing. Thanks to all that took part this year. Have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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