Building The Perfect Record Collection On A Budget…

Table of Top Ten Records and their values

The new “What’s The Story” Oasis Box Set costs £116.99, in a move designed to capture the wallets of the clinically insane and hopelessly wealthy.

Being neither insane, nor rich, I want to see if I can spend that money more wisely, and buy a “complete” record collection for a friend instead….

This article is therefore one of a few where I shall attempt to buy as good a record collection as is humanly possible with £116.99. Keep reading to see what is possible….

After an evening of drinking planning, I came home to find the answer staring me in the face. It looked like this:

Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

I bought this magazine a couple of years ago and had barely read it. Yet I was pretty sure if I used this as a rough guide that would be a pretty good start. As Rolling Stone Magazine put it, it’s the “ultimate guide to the best albums of the rock era”.

Of course there were drawbacks in using such a list. This list was criticised when first produced in 2003 for being “weighted towards testosterone-fuelled vintage rock”. Given my challenge was to replace an Oasis box-set however, I thought that ought to be a plus-point.

The Rolling Stone 500 list was also accused of being male-dominated, outmoded and too Anglo-American, to which latter point I have just three words to say, namely Eurovision, Song and Contest. I know I have the perspective of an Englishman, but Britain always does seem to have punched above its weight rock n roll wise. And with apologies to my overseas readers, I’m rather of the opinion that if God had meant, say, the French to be good at rock n roll, he would never have invented Jonny Halliday.**

I have a theory that Daft Punk have to wear helmets so that they aren’t recognised and lynched by their own countrymen for not toeing the line when it comes to the universal Gallic rejection of popular music.

We’ll try to address the lack of female representation in the RS500 list as we go along.

No doubt it was tricky making a list of 500 records, and it looked to be trickier still spending £116.99 on records and achieving some kind of diversity of genre. But that was also kind of the point. Oasis have seldom been accused of unnecessary experimentation, so here was a chance to live a little….

I decided that the most frequently mentioned artists would be a good starting point, namely Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen*, Clapton, Neil Young, The Who, Lou Reed, Bowie, Elton, Radiohead, Marley, Led Zep, U2, Grateful Dead, Floyd, Prince, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads, The Byrds, The Police and The Smiths, all with four or more albums in that top 500.

Whether I could find classic albums by these artists for a reasonable price was another matter. It might have been easier to find a DFS store that doesn’t have a sale on….

I checked on the top ten to see what they might cost. They’re all in print and can therefore be bought new, but I guessed there might (in many cases) be better value to be had if I bought older, original copies that in many cases will be approaching their fiftieth birthday. That collectibility would also make for a better record collection – I didn’t just want this to be a great collection of records, I wanted it to be a great record collection.

Here’s how much everything costs (prepare to be amazed with my exceptional excel skills):

Album Average Value Discogs £ Cost new £
The Beatles – Sgt Pepper 22.5 17.52
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds 16.13 21.84
The Beatles – Revolver 17.5 16.6
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 12.8 24.99
The Beatles – Rubber Soul 25 22.77
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On 15 19.99
Rolling Stones – Exile 42.5 22.12
The Clash – London Calling 19.21 24.99
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde 17.49 20.81
The Beatles – White Album 47.98 23.76
TOTAL 236.11 215.39

So the top ten are £215 for all ten (new) and I could buy the top six with £116. So you could enrich your life with what 273 rock musicians, critics and industry figures believe to be the six greatest albums of all time, or you could buy the new Oasis box set…

It’s probably worth noting that (What’s The Story) Morning Glory makes the list: in like a bullet at number 378….

But I still felt I could do better with a little shopping around. And did I really need all those Beatles albums?*** Enough with the planning. It was time to act.

To read on to the next part of this series, click this link. 

  • * I like Springsteen (especially live), but are eight of his albums really amongst the best 500 by anyone anywhere? I’d settle for half that, and consider it a favourable deal…
  • ** Yeah, I know that’s a terrible argument and that the UK has produced acts just as bad as Jonny Halliday. Cough*CliffRichard*Cough
  • *** Clearly we do, but perhaps not for this exercise.


Categories: Music

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7 replies

  1. This is a cool idea. I’d still say you’re better served picking up a bunch of stuff on spec and giving them a spin. Yes, it’s a crap-shoot, but if you follow your gut (and things you’ve maybe heard in passing about this or that), you’re almost guaranteed to get two or three sleeper classics you might otherwise have missed completely! Those Best Albums aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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    • It’s a good point. It would certainly be a more personalised collection. The 1p album club have a good idea where people buy a CD for other people on Amazon for 1p and then both write about a) why they chose it and b) what the recipient thought of it. It’s a great way to show the diversity of people’s musical tastes.

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  2. If you’re trying to convert someone who might actually pay 116 quid for an Oasis box set it sounds like a bit of lost cause anyway. They will be demanding Gallaghers, and lots of them.

    Six to ten albums is a tough call to capture the entire history of rock. While I’d be tempted just to pick up the Led Zeppelin back catalogue, I’d probably switch out a few of The Beatles albums to capture records from more decades than the 60s and 70s and expand the range of genres on offer. Maybe some Aretha Franklin, Talking Heads, Radiohead, REM, early Beck, James Brown, Ray Charles and maybe The Shins or Arcade Fire’s first album.

    Most serious attempts at an exercise like this end up with me breaking out in a sweat and then going for a long lie-down.

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    • Yup, completely agree. You will see from earlier posts we managed to pick up some Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and that Talking Heads album might have replaced a Macca album. Early Beck is expensive, sadly (I do have Odelay in my own collection and it wasn’t a fiver). So you don’t break out in a sweat, just think of this as a “not so serious” attempt!
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Touche! Clearly I should have read the subsequent posts more carefully. Excellent work – and anything that tries to convince people to buy something other than a ridiculously expensive Oasis overdose is very much a noble cause.

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  1. Things To Buy Instead of the £116.99 Oasis Box Set – Part 2 | Every record tells a story

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