Each month we handpick a collection of reissues, limited editions or just straight classic long-players that deserve a place in any record collection.

Album cover artwork for The BeatlesThe Beatles, Let it Be (1970)


It was a simple plan. However, like so many such ideas, it ended up being anything but.

Paul McCartney thought that The Beatles would be revigorated by getting back to basics for this album, by getting the classic rock ‘n’ roll configuration happening without all the wild studio bells and whistles that had crept in – often to great effect – to their later recordings. And so, while writing and recording for Let it Be commenced before any Abbey Road sessions, it didn’t come out until after that much-loved 1969 release.

Rehearsals kicked off in January of ’69 at Twickenham Film Studios, as a documentary of the album’s genesis was also a part of the plan. Some of this was documented in the Let it Be movie, but a much better look is via Peter Jackson’s eight-hour documentary series Get Back (releasing as a fan must-have triple Blu-ray set on July 13). The sessions were fraught, with George Harrison even leaving at one point, only returning once recording moved to the band’s Apple Studio, where a certain legendary rooftop concert took place.

Various mixes of the album were completed, with the eventual release having the handprints of American ‘Wall of Sound’ producer Phil Spector all over it – masses of strings, choirs and other overdubs – which to some ears worked a treat, and to others was blasphemy. Regardless, it was this released version that acted as the source for this newly-remixed stereo version of Let it Be, completed by Giles Martin – the son of “the fifth Beatle” himself, George Martin – and engineer Sam Okell, utilising original eight-track recordings from both the studio and the rooftop performance.

While arguments may rage about Spector’s involvement, and indeed whether this was actually the band’s last album, nobody can argue that songs such as Across the Universe, The Long and Winding Road, Get Back, Two of Us and the title track are anything but bona fide Beatles classics.

TOP TRACK: Across the Universe

FAST FACT: Rather than the now iconic set of four individual photos of the band members that graced the eventual release, the original cover idea for Let it Be was a group stairwell photo intended as an update of the Please Please Me cover image from 1963. A similar shot from the new photo session was later used on the compilation 1967–1970, AKA The Blue Album.

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Album cover artwork for Black SabbathBlack Sabbath, Paranoid (1971)


Never popular with the music press of the time, Black Sabbath followed up their eponymous debut album with what would become one of the finest records of the decade. The eight-minute opener War Pigs, a blazing anti-war song driven by an apocalyptic Tony Iommi guitar riff and booming Bill Ward drum fills, sets the tone. Seven of the eight tracks are absolute thumpers led by the band’s anthemic Paranoid, a song written in just two hours and born out of a last-minute studio jam. The psychedelic Planet Caravan introduced a more measured string to Ozzy Osbourne’s bow, while album closer, The Fairies Wear Boots, draws the curtains with a killer Geezer Butler bass groove.

A stone-cold rock and roller, Paranoid is the sound of Sabbath’s career on take-off and a must-own in anyone’s money.


FAST FACT: War Pigs was originally named after the satanic ritual of Walpurgis. However, it was changed at the insistence of the record company.

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Album cover artwork for Alanis MorissetteAlanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill (1995)


When your lead single is touted as the most savage evisceration of an ex ever recorded (You Oughta Know), you know you’ve set your own bar teeteringly high. However, Alanis Morissette quickly proved she was more than a 21-year-old Angry Woman who may or may not know what ‘ironic’ meant with three words: Jagged Little Pill. Side A gives us the industry-disembowelling Right Through You, You Oughta Know and the ode to chill Hand in My Pocket, while Side B delivers another one-two punch of number ones in the observational life lessons You Learn and Head Over Feet, while the chart-crushing Ironic sits mid-side. On an album dotted with vicious (and visceral) sonic bombs, Morissette’s quieter confessionals are just as penetrating, and JLP remains a classic from soup to nuts.

TOP TRACK: Right Through You

FAST FACT: The bass on You Oughta Know is played by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, who was given a demo version by his band’s long-time producer Jimmy Boyle. “I listened to the bassline and thought, ‘That’s some weak sh-t!’” Flea has said. “It was no flash, and no smash. But the vocal was strong, so I just tried to play something good.”

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Album cover artwork for The Clash with green vinyl record popping outThe Clash, Combat Rock (1982)


“This is a public service announcement… with guitars!” So opens Combat Rock, via its first single, the rockabilly tinged Know Your Rights. If you thought that The Clash’s politics had been blunted by the arrival of their fifth long-player, then you were barking up the wrong tree, with the Vietnam War in particular supplying much lyrical inspiration.

The Clash stretched their musical influence boundaries this time out, with poppy second single and worldwide smash, the Topper Headon-penned Rock the Casbah (although Joe Strummer ditched his lyrics) a top example. It follows the now-legendary Should I Stay or Should I Go on side one. That was half of a killer double-A single, backed by melancholic side one closer Straight to Hell – which many will know as the basis of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. That leaves a whole another side to lose yourself to, including collaborations with rapper and graffiti artist Futura 2000, and beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

TOP TRACK: Rock the Casbah

FAST FACT: Combat Rock started life with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg. Initially it was a much longer affair that was almost completely the work of Mick Jones, who reportedly wasn’t too jazzed at the remixing and remodelling that went on to achieve the final product.

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Album cover artwork for Florence + the MachineFlorence + the Machine, Ceremonials (2011)


The musical partnership of vocalist-visionary Florence Welch, songwriter Isabella Summers and producer Paul Epworth wasted no time following up the promise of Florence + the Machine’s number one debut Lungs (2009). Fans were eager to see where the UK act would take the baroque-pop tapestry, and were rewarded with some of the most bewitching sounds of the new decade. Ceremonials’ melodrama nodded to gospel, gothic and blues, delivering flag-rippling battle cries (Heartlines), organ-led manifestos (Shake it Out and No Light, No Light) and glittering high-art (Spectrum) – all of which are elevated to freshly extraordinary heights when listened to on vinyl. There was no stopping Ceremonials’ chimerical hold on the public’s imagination, and it quickly became the UK band’s second consecutive number one album.

TOP TRACK: Shake it Out

FAST FACT: Ceremonials’ cover image was shot by Twickenham photographer Jamie Beard. Beard lost his hearing in one ear after getting headbutted in a street fight at age 13; he subsequently found school very difficult and began taking photos instead of attending class, ending up at Camberwell College of Arts as a teenager – where he met fellow student Florence Welch.

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