Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Roland "The Roland Rack" catalog, May 1980

Roland "The Roland Rack" eight page catalog including SPA-240, SPA-120, SIP-300 and SIP-301 amplifiers, SDD-320 Dimension D, SBF-325 stereo flanger, SVC-350 vocoder, SPV-355 pitch-to-voltage synthesizer, SRE-555 chorus echo, SMX-880 line mixer, SST-120 sound system, and SEQ-315 and SEQ-331 equalizers from May 1980.

Oh man... after scanning that last Roland catalog, I just couldn't stop. I became a whirlwind of scanning... and this one got caught up in the tornado. Okay - a glass or two of wine might have helped too.

Point is - the result is another excellent Roland catalog for the blog!

As a teen I always ran into these racks in pawn shops. They looked awesome but I just couldn't afford them. That's not exactly true... I did end up finding a SVC-350 locally back in the 90s. Snapped it up immediately and its never left the studio. But there is just so many other racks from this series that I want. Unfortunately prices have gone through the roof on most of 'em, so it's just a fantasy to find them all now.

For me, the centre of that fantasy is that lovely KS-300 display stand! You'll find it on the last inside page in the bottom left. Take a look... I'll wait...

See... what I tell ya. Wouldn't that thing look great filled with all those rack units?!?! I've expressed it before, but it can't be said enough. I. LOVE. ACCESSORIES. And this Roland Rack is on the top of my "want" list.

I have never seen one of these in someone's gear shot or in an advertisement. But I want to.

If you have one of these, please snap a photo and send it to me! I will add it to the post with a link back to your page/bandcamp/wherever!

Please!   :)

End note: Did you find the System 100 synthesizer?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Akai MPC60, S1000 and S1000PB "Hitmakers: Don Henley and Akai" ad, Keyboard 1989

MPC60, S1000, S1000PB "Hitmakers: Don Henley and Akai" colour advertisement from page 23 in the December 1989 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Artist endorsement ads are as old as the wheel and both are still around because they are good at what they do. Just ask ARP. Or Korg. Or Roland. Or....   :)

And in 1989, Akai did good when they nabbed Don Henley for this long running advertisement. His album "The End of the Innocence" was Grammy nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year... and WON for Rock Male Vocalist. Not too shabby.

Although this second Keyboard Magazine ad for the MPC60 didn't appear in the mag for well over a year after Akai's first introductory ad in the February and March 1988 issues, the MPC still managed to pop up every now and then.

For example, right after that first ad ran, the MPC60 appeared the following month in an April 1988 NAMM article.
"The Akai booth was really dancing, with Roger Linn demonstrating the MPC60 ($4,995.95), featuring MIDI sequencing and drum machine sampling. Detailed in-depth in our Summer 1987 NAMM coverage (Keyboard, Nov. '87), the MPC60 (formerly known as the ADR15 Drum Machine/Sequencer) is now available."
And if you read the blog post about that first ad, you'll recall that the MPC60 was also highlighted in Keyboard's November '87 NAMM show article as well. That's right - it received some great double exposure for showing at two different NAMMs.

In November 1988, the MPC60 finally made it into the Review section of Keyboard Magazine. The extensive write-up weighs in at over five pages and covers a lot of ground that included an introduction that wears Keyboard reviewer Freff's uneasiness on his sleeve. Remember - this was really the beginning of what could possibly a whole new market.
"We should admit our own conflicting reactions up front. Our very first thought, upon examining the MPC60, was why? Why even design, let alone try and sell, a three-in-one unit like the MPC60 when the marketplace is awash in inexpensive drum machines, samplers and sequencers (both software- and hardware-based)"
Doesn't sound like its going to go well, eh? That's what I thought, until later into the intro we read...
"Our second reaction, upon using the MPC60 for several days, was Oh, of course - that's why. It is an unquestionably professional piece of gear in its attention to conception, design, and execution. It looks good and feels even better: It is, in fact, a tactile pleasure to play and to program. These are qualities that have been given short shift by manufacturers in recent years, and we're happy to see that the trend might be reversing."
There ya go... I know I feel much better. You?

I'm sure many people at the time popped into the local music store and had similar first impressions upon seeing it, and that same second reaction after playing.  :)

And finally, the MPC60 popped up again in the March 1989 issue of Keyboard. Twice.

The first appearance was that Akai Michael Jackson advertisement that I blogged about just a bit ago.

And the second time was when the magazine tried its darnedest to come up with a way to comparatively test over a dozen different samplers. Although it didn't make the cut for the dozen or so samplers that they did test, there is a great section called "Features Chart" that does include the MPC among 30+ other samplers.

Better than nothing.

Especially since its descendants have outlasted most of pack.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Roland "Keyboard Instruments" Catalog, 1976

Roland "Keyboard Instruments" 16 page colour catalog including SH-3A, SH-5, SH-1000 and SH-2000 synthesizers, RS-101 strings instrument, and EP-30, EP-20 and EP-10 combo pianos from December 1976.

Well... time for a bit of a break from the Akai MPC stuff. And I thought, since this year marks the 10-year anniversary of the blog (I know... right?!?!?) I wanted to post something special so I've dug into my archives.

A quick look online didn't bring up any good scans of the English version of the catalog (I did find scans of the Japanese version online), so I figured this was a good candidate.

I love Roland's catalogs from this time period - they did everything right. Always a nice cover image. And highlighting each keyboard's features are large photos turned into diagrams. Each page includes lots of white space and simple, readable fonts.

In particular, I'm really digging those two pages dedicated to the SH-5. It's one of the few synths still on my bucket list.

The synth itself has only popped up on the blog twice... once in a Roland retail price list, and the other is this memorable "Groupies aren't everything" advertisement from International Musician (right).

The other section of the catalog that really got my attention was the half page dedicated to Roland's keyboard accessories. I love vintage accessories and will often go out of my way to hunt them down. Cases, bags, pedals... all of 'em. And now I have my eye on two more - that KS-10 keyboard stand and carry bag.

Un-frickin'-believably... Roland has kept the KS-10 name alive in their KS-10x keyboard stand.  Seriously - over  40 years later!  You can find a better photo of the original KS-10 here. Dang... that's some sweet hardware, don't you think?!?!

I've got a few more catalogs to post... hopefully sooner rather than later. We'll see.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Akai "Michael Jackson Band - Great musicians use great equipment" ad, Electronic Musician 1989

Akai "Michael Jackson Band - Great musicians use great equipment" full page colour advertisement from page 59 in the March 1989 issue of Electronic Musician.

Coincidences are great. I started blogging about the Akai MPC60 back in November and had planned to push out this next ad on Friday. And then Akai suddenly announces their latest extension of the MPC line - the Akai Force. Reverb is a nice Pre-NAMM starting point to learn more about it.

BBoy Tech Report also has a nice intro on the machine. And, just by coincidence, the BBoy site also has a connection to this advertisement. But more on that in a second.

I gotta hand it to Electronic Musician - sometimes they pulled in some great advertising that never made it into Keyboard Magazine. This appears to be one of those ads. And the ad looks to have appeared only once as far as I can tell - in this EM March 1989 issue - making it even rarer.

This artist-endorsement ad compresses one heck of a lot of talent into one 8x11 inch page...

On the left is Ricky Lawson, drummer and Grammy winner, who played and recorded with some of the hottest hit makers including Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton, Quincy Jones and Anita Baker. He passed away in December 2013 and there's a nice little write-up on the Modern Drummer Web site. Check out his Wikipedia page it's a who's-who of amazing artists.

On the right, leaning on the 7000, is keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. His Wikipedia page is as jammed packed as Ricky's with some amazing references including touring and recording with the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Richard Marx, Paul McCartney, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, and Stevie Nicks.

And last but not least, on the far right is Rory Kaplan. Google him and one of top links to come up is his LinkIn page, listing his current position as Executive Producer/Artist Relations with Auro Technologies. And looking back at his post-musician career includes four years in the role of Artist Relations with Intel and Microsoft. Rory is in desperate need of a Wikipedia page. Just saying.

Now - back to coincidences. One of my favourite parts of researching and writing this blog is when I find connections between advertisements and interviews or other historical events. And this ad has a great connection.

If you recall my blog post for Keyboard's first MPC60 advertisement, I linked to a 2013 bboytechreport interview with Akai marketing manager at the time, Mike McRoberts. In that interview, Mike looked back at some of his most memorable moments with Akai and one of them includes this 'lil nugget:
"...at the January 1988 NAMM Show in Anaheim, I was approached by three members of Michael Jackson’s band touring for the BAD album. They explained their touring schedule, which basically was one week in each city. They had some free time every week and asked if they could do a clinic in each city for Akai. I couldn’t say “No” to that, since this was the biggest tour on earth at the time. So, every week I flew to a different city and Ricky Lawson, drummer, Greg Philliganes and Rory Kaplan, keyboard players did a clinic. I was the master of ceremonies, and these guys came up with the whole clinic format."

We now take YouTube for granted, but I can only imagine how cool it would have been to have attended one of those clinics.

More MPC stuff to come!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Alesis HR16 and MMT-8 "Yes there is a Santa Claus" ad, Keyboard 1987

Alesis HR16 drum machine and MMT-8 sequencer "Yes there is a Santa Clause" full page colour advertisement from page 19 in the November 1987 issue of  Keyboard Magazine.

Surprisingly, very few companies take advantage of the season to customize their marketing message during the holidays. It makes sense since it requires extra time and money to produce an ad that will only get used for one or two months max. But I've come across a few holiday ads that took the chance and made it happen.

Sequential Circuits kept it simple in their black and white quarter-page holiday advertisement that ran in the December 1985 issue. Sequential made the decision to split their marketing dollars into two quarter page ads on two different pages so that they could keep their holiday message totally separate. Nice work.

Oberheim took it a big step further in their full page colour ad in the same December 1985 issue when they took out a full page colour product-oriented ad on the back-inside cover. It's definitely Santa/Christmas themed, but its not a message to readers. It's a full on product-oriented ad.

But Alesis...  they took it one step further.

It's not just a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday" message like Sequential's ad.

And it's not a holiday product ad like Oberheim's.

This advertisement is actually THE LAUNCH of the HR16 drum machine and MMT-8 sequencer. Alesis took advantage of the timing of these two pieces of gear to create a holiday season product launch.

Surprisingly, they kept the ad pretty bland. Ad title. Announcement copy. Two photos with some specs. And a holiday message. With some red and green font colours to make it a bit more festive.

But bland or not, those machines were definitely a Christmas miracle. And even more of a Christmas miracle... this is MY FIRST Alesis ad. Don't worry - more to come.   :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!