Nat of local fame recently discussed the five oldest records in her collection. That got me rooting through the old lp collection, and reminiscing quite a bit. I was all about the black vinyl disks when I was a kid.
My answer, therefore, would have been much too long for a comment, so I'll list mine here.
First of all, there is a lot missing from this collection. After all, I wasn't always about the music I dig now. In elementary school, my collection was chock full of K-Tel collections with names like Fantastic!, Dynamite!, and Out of Sight! I also had everything Kiss yarked up until the under-the-belt combo of the horribly inept Kiss Alive II and those solo albums. Egad, those solo albums. This stuff, along with other mistakes, was purged from the collection when I reached middle school, and never missed. Thus, this answer to Nat's question involves just those that survived.
There are two from those days, and I am certain that they predate any of the Kiss albums I bought, anyway. They were both, of course, inspired by my older brothers' collections, and the first was the only band that they both had.
Hours upon hours were spent in my room, using the little record player my parents had bought in the 50s - you remember, the little portable ones that were self contained and made their own case. I pored over the record cover - the first "real" one that was my property. I seem to remember there being a poster with it, but that's long gone now.
I remember digging this because it was one my brothers didn't have, yet it had all the songs that I liked from the albums I'd heard, and a few new ones. It also gave me a chance to hear different versions, since it was a live album. See how early this whole thing started?
The next one was heavily inspired by my eldest brother M___'s collection.
At the time, live music was more of an economic decision than an artistic preference. A single lp cost about $7.00, but you could get a double album for $10.00, and a triple like this for about $13.00. More bang for your buck. Any of them were a big investment for a 4th grader in the day when a copy of The Flash was only a quarter. And thanks to both the radio and my brother's records, I was really into the Beatles and McCartney both. This three-disc set not only gave me new versions of songs I knew, but also a lot of new songs, as well as live versions of Beatles songs! This is one I'd like to replace on CD.
It's interesting to note that while I played the hell out of these records, they are still in fantastic shape. I'd even say the McCartney is close to pristine, despite getting played for years longer than the Grand Funk. I was careful with my music to the point of neurosis, I guess. My reverence started at a very early age.
This one was a gift from my other brother, R__ . His idea was always to get me music that I wasn't listening to, and broaden my horizons. In this case, however, it's no wonder the lp is in great shape. With the exception of one song, Do You Feel Like We Do, I never warmed up to it. As a kid, I thought maybe I just wasn't "getting it", because this was such a monstrously popular album. I figured I'd like it better as I matured. I didn't. The main reason this is still in the stacks is the fact that I've never found a used record store willing to buy another copy of the damn thing.
The next one was my own decision, made around 6th or 7th grade, and one of the few to escape the "used record store" purges of the 1980s that removed a LOT of records from consideration here.
This is still a great album. When it first came out, my young mind was baffled by Bohemian Rhapsody, but it grew on me in exactly the way Frampton did not. And the first side is simply one great song after another. In fact, I cannot for the life of me explain why I don't have this on CD, especially since good Queen boots have thus far eluded me.
Finally, we come to one that I'm sure I got in 7th grade, as another gift from R___. This time he got it right, as I was ready, largely because of Queen, to start exploring the more progressive rock bands, and Kansas was a terrific primer. While songs like Dust in the Wind are commercial enough for a young listener to consider "normal", songs like The Spider and Paradox challenged me to follow the melodies and rhythms in a way that hadn't happened before. This album prepared me for a lot of bands I listened to later, such as Yes, ELP, and King Crimson, which in turn paved my way toward jazz. Not only that, but it was also a lyrical departure from the teen love that most of the radio fare consisted of, and that meant a lot to me. I wanted something more intellectual than the usual party fare of the day. And look at that cover! The next record R___ got me for a gift was Wish You Were Here. He really hit the nail on the head that time, eh?