Thoughts on Retro

Recently I’ve been listening too old albums on vinyl. One album I’ve been particularly fond of is Laura Nyro and Labelle’s ‘Gonna take a miracle’ from 1971. It’s a collection of old soul songs from the sixties, so itself is a form of nostalgia.

I very much doubt that at the time they made it people would be accusing them of being ‘retro’. They were just fans lovingly remaking music they were passionate about.

Nowadays you have to defend the position of being interested in the past from certain future zealots who see it as an unthinking retreat from the modern world.

This kind of argument strikes me as strange. If anything the reverse is true. Our current obsession with the past is fuelled in particular by the internet, which allows us in one click to learn about artists and their creations from any era.

For modern music this is problematic. In the new age all music, even the hippest, can be instantly known shared, blogged and reblogged. This robs it of the underground quality needed if it is to be truly hip.

In my misspent youth this couldn’t happen. Things remained secret for longer, allowing fans to bond with certain artists before they inevitably went out into the mainstream.

The same is not true for old music however. There is a vast amount of it and with just a little extra careful research you can uncover all kinds of hidden gems like the aforementioned ‘Gonna take a miracle’ or the previously forgotten Linda Perhacs album ‘Parallelograms’. Giving you something everyone craves – the feeling of being a little different from everyone else.

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