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Akai, for the most Avant Garde fans of Stereo Equipment
I find this late seventies commercial for Akai stereo equipment to be both confusing and indulgent. Also, with its styling, it feels a bit ahead of its time. So naturally it is now my favorite thing in the world.
While I know this was a well planned video with real musicians. It is charming because it feels like they had a few actors show up and they told them to act artsy. This sort of production seemed to peak in the eighties, but for my money, the stuff they did in the seventies was much better
The commercial itself pretty much IS a music video, featuring the music and members of The Manhattan Transfer and their song, Birdland. It has a sterile industrial vibe with red/white/black color pallette that I always associate with new wave music and Mtv. Not with a vocal jazz group from the late 60s. But I guess that I should never try to categorize a band like The Manhattan Transfer.
The Manhattan Transfer is a jazz vocal group founded in 1969. They were a very experimental group (perfect for this video) that has explored acapella, vocalese, swing, standards, jazz, and pop music. The group went through two incarcerations over the years with their one constant member being Tim Hauser, who is my favorite “character” in this commercial.
Here is laser hand mirror guy (Tim Hauser) my favorite member of the “Akai Stereo Players.”
Akai is a consumer electronics brand name. The original company was founded in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan as Akai Electric Co., Ltd. by Masukichi Akai and his son, Saburo Akai. They are probably best known today for their work on electronics such as LED TVs and Air Conditioning systems.
In the early 2000s I bought my first Akai product. It was a used portable VCR, the Model VP-55U, that I got at goodwill for $12. It was already over a decade old when I got it, so it was not terribly dependable, but I loved the styling on it and used it till it stopped working.