Tag Archive | RCA

Eye On Design: RCA Victor Special Model K Portable Electric Phonograph

Portable Electric Phonograph
All Photos By Gail

Designed by John Vassos for RCA (Radio Corporation of America) circa 1935 the Model K was relatively lightweight, being made out of aluminum, and the suitcase-style design featured its own speaker, a classy and reflective protective plate, and pockets inside the lid  to carry records.

Portable Electric Phonograph

Note the little design touches such as the tabs for the record slots, and the rounded cutouts (behind the metal plate) so you could easily get to the records themselves. The semi-domed, built-in speaker at the front of the case is a nice design touch.

Portable Electric Phonograph

Today, aluminum is taken for granted as a lightweight, inexpensive material that has many applications However, is was only in 1886 that an American, Charles Martin Halm discovered the process that made commercial production possible. Over the next forty years, aluminum evolved from a laboratory curiosity to an industrial staple

Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.

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Video Clip of The Week: The Verve Pipe, “Hit and Run”

Although it is a band that currently has but one of its original members — that being lead vocalist Brian Vander ArkThe Verve Pipe is a group that has remained near and dear to my heart for nearly 20 years. The band’s amazingly underrated 1996 album, Villains, is still one of my favorite albums of all time, and I have very fond memories of seeing the band live at places like Irving Plaza, and hanging out with them and another favorite, ill-fated RCA signing, Thin Lizard Dawn, many times. Those were the days. Which reminds me of an industry joke that, while somewhat dated, still makes me chuckle:

Question: How do you stop the spread of AIDS?

Answer: Let BMG distribute it.

If you get that, great. If you don’t, doesn’t matter.

At any rate, I’ve continued to pay attention to Brian Vander Ark’s post-Verve Pipe solo career, seeing him live when he plays NYC and buying his albums, because he’s a pretty decent songwriter and his voice will always, always remind me of Genesis-era Peter Gabriel. In fact it still does, even in this newfangled version of The Verve Pipe that has very little to do with the band that recorded This Fucking Awesome Song, but got popular singing a song about a Fucked up shit that happens to you when you are in college, or whatever.

Verve Pipe Video Still

The animated video inspired by this week’s tune, “Hit and Run,” (off their latest album release, Overboard) was created by Ofir Sasson, an independent animator and illustrator from Tel-Aviv. As an inspiration for his visual style, Ofir points to early animation and film works of the 30’s through 50’s and an illustration style characterized by simple geometrical shapes and lines, together with dark and gritty themes. This explains the dark sensibility that jibes with the essence of The Verve Pipe’s best material. Because happy music is for idiots. Just kidding. Sort of. Not really.

Meanwhile, the band is undertaking an experiment that shows you just how much Vander Ark has learned over the years from having taken (and survived) a near-fatal music industry beat-down: beginning with the September 25th release of the track “If I Could Make You Feel,” the band will release a new single digitally every two weeks for download (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) or streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Pandora, etc.), That’s right, only available digitally, this new music will not be available on CD. Genius.

Enjoy!

Video Clip of The Week: The Happinesses “Beautiful Mistake”

In the mid-1990s, when music was an entirely different animal than it is now, there was a fantastic NYC-based power pop quartet, possessed of a wickedly gritty edge, called Thin Lizard Dawn. Thin Lizard Dawn were just about my favorite band in the world for the short time they were together. TLD sounded something like The Beatles meets 10 CC and their self-titled, 1995 debut featured energetic, danceable songs about smoking pot (“Weed”), enthusiastic sex (“Sexual Dynamo”) and how much they thought Oasis sucked (“Sucks). I loved them so much and that album is still one of my favorite discs of all time. But TLD’s record label, RCA, had no clue how to market them and the band was dropped after their sophomore album failed to make any kind of dent in the commercial marketplace. Which reminds me of a joke:

Q: How do you stop the spread of AIDS?
A: Let BMG distribute it.

More than a decade has passed since the death of Thin Lizard Dawn, but the bands’ individual members have all gone on to have careers in the music industry, and that includes lead singer/guitarist/heartthrob Greg Lattimer. Greg is currently a studio engineer and producer, but he still finds time to write and record original music. The Happinesses is Greg and his wife Alice, just performing simple, memorable songs about love. Please enjoy this very fun, split-screen video for the super hooky “Beautiful Mistake.” “Like” The Happinesses on FaceBook at This Link.