The future is here, but it has distinctly retro tastes. Four months after the day that Marty McFly visited in back to the future, we’re seeing a resurgence in all things groovy. From fashions to photo filters and from artwork to artisan coffee, the trend for past tastes just won’t quit – and vinyl records are at the cutting edge. With a resurgence in sales and the new Martin Scorsese-directed drama ‘Vinyl’ hitting our screens, the golden age of rock has dusted off its platform shoes and is taking centre stage again.
Alongside a mix of new sounds with an old-style twist, the top-performing vinyl records of 2016 so far hark back to that era. Big names of the past, such as Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous ‘Rumours’ and The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ sit alongside newer –but still modern classic – releases such as the late Amy Winehouse’s blues-saturated ‘Back to Black’, the Stone Roses prog-rock influenced self-titled album and Bob Marley.
And how are people choosing to experience these classic sounds? Through the rich, tactile medium of vinyl records – a solid slice of something in a transient, digital world. Records are being swept off the shelves by a new generation as sales spike a new high point and LPs make a comeback.
Even where popular vinyl releases are more contemporary, the records topping the charts still have a sound that harks back to an earlier era – take the Arctic Monkeys, re-inventing their sound from Britpop-lite to achingly dark, rhythm & blues-tinged rock for the album ‘AM’, or even other vinyl chart-topper Adele, continuing through sound and copious amounts of flicked eyeliner what Dusty Springfield started way back when.
Shiny new entrant Jack Garratt – fresh from winning the BRITs Critics Choice award – channels the 70’s folksy-blues of Tom Waits on his debut release, Phase, which is cresting the vinyl charts.
It's clear that we’re all harking back to a golden, idealistic age in music – when the world felt fresh and optimistic. So what more fitting character to be riding the top of the vinyl charts than the late, great Ziggy Stardust himself, both with his swansong ‘Blackstar’ and his greatest hits collection?
Somewhere on an electric cloud orbiting Mars, the Thin White Duke – himself a blaze-of-glory composite of so many elements of the past - would be smiling.