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Music Thing: Vintage Gearporn on YouTube

Ryan Block, @ryan

Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:

YouTube, that video sharing website, feels a bit like the old days of Napster, which for a few months seemed to have every piece of music ever recorded available for instant download. YouTube is full of strange, half forgotten gems of music geek heaven (and hell):

The Grammy Awards Synth Medley
In 1985, synth pop was huge, and the Grammy award organisers decided to play tribute by persuading Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby and little Howard Jones from England to perform together, miming a medley of their hits in front of the biggest pile of synthesizers ever assembled in one place. The results were truly, astonishingly awful. This clip can cause your toes to curl up with embarrasment even at 21 years' distance.

Delia Derbyshire speaks
Delia Derbyshire recorded the Dr Who theme music at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in London using little more than lab equipment and magnetic tape, speeding up and slowing down sounds to create a melody. She was so far ahead of her time that she didn't really trust the first analog synths when they were invented in the late '60s, because they made weird noise making far too easy.

Rick Wakeman Playing Really Fast
More proof, as if any was really needed, that synthesizers can be a force for evil.

Kate Bush's Pretend Band
It's easy to be distracted by the weird dancing and big hair and forget that Kate Bush was (and is) a music gear geek par excellence. She used to write songs on a Yamaha CS80 - a vast, phenomenally complicated and expensive analog synth, before moving on to a Fairlight CMI, a vast, phenomenally complicated and expensive digital synth. Here she is, miming on British TV in 1986 with a band playing two Fairlights, a set of Simmons drums and a Stepp DG1 -- a phenomenally complicated and expensive digital guitar, which was even less successful than the rival Synthaxe.

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