i bought myself a dyna-mite today. oh no, not a new one mind you. although, if i really want to, i can probably write 'made in china' on it and be the first on my block. no, this was an old one, with the silver and black case, and "dyna mite" spelled out in courier and embellished by curly-cues. it looked like something i would have seen on the side of a gently rocking van with steamy bubble windows up on mount tabor in say, 1977. nice.
ah, my very own dyna-mite. not to be obstinate, but this unit did not seem to be a priority, as it was not mentioned specifically by the spokesman for the holder of the brand name. or maybe, like other important things, he just forgot. again, just for reference, k-e-p-e-x. yeah, like exxon, kotex and xanax, it is spelled just like it sounds.
when i got home from work, i spun some joe meek demos from archive.org, dug the strains of "sky men" and contemplated a cover version. i also compared the two controversial pioneers that bore that name. the joe meek i knew about growing up was very important to the oregon country for equally complex and nerdy reasons well over a century ago, and no, i won't bore you. i liked telstar then too, but i did not know the wizard's name, only the tornadoes that he created. both joes were unique in that they were both ahead of -- and yet part of -- their time. joe meek. seems like such an unassuming name for one historical figure, let alone two. way to go, joe.
now, i am faced with products that bear a proud name, but the one spider thread that tied the company to joe -- the one that lived and worked in a noisy little apartment above a store -- was an engineer/salesman who is no longer involved. yada yada yada, we all know every version of that story. although every tom, dick and harry has built them over the years, there are still no spring reverb units from a company named for england's crowned king of boing. what a saga.
the fact that the initial offerings were great pieces of gear built by people who loved their jobs, knew their jobs and did their jobs was far more important to me than a historical footnote. what i paid for a unit fed the family of a technician who was making a living in a democracy. the company employed the very people who heard joe's music on the radio growing up and revived his name with gear designed for the current mad genius upstairs. now, if that spirit is gone, then joe meek is a character, like saint nicholas. you know him? he is a skinny generous guy from european history that coca-cola made greedy, fat and scary.
names and designs are useless tools if the new product is not anywhere near the build quality or sound of the original. judging by the insane sales that the suburban malls advertise on stuff -- that soon thread after thread of the tomb is dedicated to modifying and spending more money on just to be useful -- most companies are churning out junk by the boat load. frankly, those who seek a mere imitation already have plenty to choose from inside the box. if valley stuff is to be released as plug-ins, great, but tread lightly, 19" screens seem to be far more forgiving than 19" racks. some of us still use tape -- remember that stuff? it was out even earlier than the k-e-p-e-x.
when folks shell out for new gear, they obviously want the highest quality at a particular price point. today, beyond the land of cold solder joints and bad parts, some companies/entities have forgotten the most important part of any design: heart. the best piece of gear, like the best musical instrument, is built with soul, passion, and love. how do you expect it to pass a signal of a performance based largely on those qualities without those very things built inside the unit?
the final product need not be cripplingly expensive to be built right, or with heart, or heck, by folks on this continent -- hamptone, fmr audio and seagull guitars immediately come to mind, but there are others. i am also not saying that every new piece of gear is crap, or hogwash, but utfsf and you will find the angst filled cries that echo day and night from the walls of the tomb,
so, regardless of whether there is ever a new "dyna-mite" or not, i am happy to have a classic, time tested and wonderful piece of gear on the way. it was built right in the first place. it will do the job. please, holder of titles and logos and such, do us all a favor: if valley -- or allison -- is to ever return, bring it all back -- american jobs and her hairdo -- or don't bother at all.
if you were simply testing the water to see if anyone cared, we do. they made great gear, and those of us who do care, will use it into the future, make repairs, and keep using it until we die or go deaf. after that, well, we are in some other target market.
"Keep singing, keep writing, keep playing, keep recording. Stay humble, follow your heart, and it'll all lead to a good place."
-- F.M. Cornog