Monday, July 5, 2010

Casio AZ-1 Remote Keyboard Brochure, 1986 (est)

Casio AZ-1 Remote Keyboard brochure from approximately 1986.

Its been so warm and sunny outside, that I thought I would jump a decade into the future from my previous posts and write about an ad or brochure that reminds me of summer. And keytars definitely make me think of summer for some reason. Maybe it was the bright fashions of the time?

So... meet Blane. Well, from the ears down.

Yellow blazer with rolled up sleeves. Check!
Thin tie with music note pattern. Check!
Stripy pants. Check!
Keytar. Check!

It must be 1986. Or 2010.

My GF started calling him Blane in homage to the character of the same name from the movie Pretty in Pink ("His name is Blane? Oh! That's a major appliance, that's not a name").

I'm almost more tempted to think that Duckie would have been more likely to have played the AZ-1 on a stage somewhere in his mid-20s, but Blane (from the movie) resembles much more closely the dude on the cover of this brochure. And you just know this guy's gear (and clothing) was paid for by daddy.

Of course, in the movie, Blane turns out to be a great guy and ends up bagging the girl in the end. I've never been sure how I felt about that come-back by Blane, and I get the same unsure feeling when I start thinking about the comeback keytars are currently making.

If you don't believe that keytars are making a comeback, you just have to look at the rumor-recently-turned-fact that Rock Band 3 will feature a keytar. Or that, unbelievably (or maybe totally predictably), Roland had continued to manufacture the AX-7 keytar as late as 2007, and then in 2009 released the AX-Synth keytar.

A quick 'keytar' search on MATRIXSYNTH will also give you a good indication of keytar-love.

And calling it a 'comeback' may be a bit of a stretch too. Createdigitalmusic.com posted an article back in 2005 called 'Keytar lives: Roland's AX-7', and you just have to browse through the comments to realize keytars have been drooled over by a certain segment of the keyboard-playing population for quite some time.

And, I have to admit the keytar does have a great deal going for it.

1. Devo used one.
2. Howard Jones used one.
3. I'm pretty sure Thomas Dolby used one.
4. Um.... er... did I mention Devo used one...?

Those facts alone are enough for me to buy into the keytar experience this second time around. And maybe even a third time around in another twenty years.

But even before we started to see the recent influx of keytars in pop culture, there seemed to have already been the rumblings of a backlash.

Synthtopia published an article online back in November 2008 called 'Proof That Herbie Hancock Is The Only Guy Ever To Look Cool Playing The Keytar', with a follow-up article the next month called 'More Proof That Herbie Hancock Is The Only Guy Ever To Look Badass Playing The Keytar'. And those photos, and other photos like them, tend make a strong argument (photos of Devo, Thomas Dolby and Howard Jones excluded of course).

Also, a Facebook group called 'Expose the Great Keytar Conspiracy!!!', created by Dante and Jonnie Stone, currently contains 93 members at the time of this writing. The title of the group includes three exclamation marks, so you know the Stones must mean business. But, one look at the member's photos, and you realize that its looking more and more likely that this Facebook page might have been created out of shear jealousy and spite. Just guessin'.

And if the people in that Facebook group are jealous of anyone, its probably the guy in the YouTube video below. He created his keytar out of Commdore 64.


Or maybe this guy shredding on his keytar.


I'm still officially on the fence about the keytar. Although, I'm sure the millisecond that I try one out in my local Long and McQuade music store, I'll be transported back to 1986 faster than John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine.

Like for sure. Totally.

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