Wednesday, April 15, 2015
By Eddie Spuhghetti
I'm no stranger to infomercials; Ronco, Tony Little, The Bullet, and The Foreman-Grill are all staples of Sunday afternoon programming for when nothing else is on but you're too lazy to toss a tape in. While I love the idea of having an audience sit in a studio and marvel at how a knife can cut through a pineapple, there's something just as satisfying when it comes to their shorter commercial counter-part. I'm talking about the "Order Now" ones that run for as long as 20 to 30 seconds and contain a fast-talking, smooth-sounding announcer who has the warlock-like ability to sell you on something as ridiculous as "hair" in an aerosol can. Some of these products gain a following and are successful enough to stick around for the long run but what about those that were sent to the hall of product failures to be forever lost in time? Once in a while, you'll have an oddly familiar commercial pop-up on the net that you swore you only saw once as a kid and in Rick Shithouse's case, that's The Music Vest.
Now I can barely find any information on this thing other than it was for sale in 1985 and I'm gonna take a guess at not for very long. Even the company that distributed it, National Catalogue Inc, has fallen off the face of the earth somehow (although, it doesn't surprise me after looking at this thing). The Music Vest is a wearable waterproof speaker-system that combines elements of a boombox with a walkman; in the sense that while you can blare your music all around you, you're physically wearing the speakers on your body like you would a pair of headphones. The vest is claimed to be perfect for exercising, bike-riding, golfing, fishing or "just hangin' around": aka break-dancing on the driveway while you try hard not to scrape the shit outa the speakers. Both are embedded into the front shoulder cuffs on the vest to allow for a stereo experience but I highly doubt there was great quality technology in there to begin with. In fact, the commercial doesn't mention what source the music comes from; a built-in radio or is there a Walkman adapter?
Elegant and versatile don't paint a great picture for describing this thing; electrical/duct tape life-jacket sounds more appropriate to me. Product aside, the commercial is at least entertaining to a degree and that's certainly thanks to the breakin' tune going in in the background. What we hear is most likely "library music": a term used for uncredited stock compositions that are used by production companies and radio/television stations when there's no budget for licensed tracks. Generic sounding in a sense, yet it gets the overall-feel across easily and in regards to The Music Vest, it appears as if they wanted to market this thing more-so to break-dancing enthusiasts. Regardless, even some slick beats couldn't help sell this thing to someone who needs to be physical with their dance and in the end, you're better off just using a boombox: ask Rick, he has like a million of those things.
Grab your tape adapter and hook up some Batch Sound tunes while you're at it!