The internet truly is a magical thing. Through what other means could you find yourself face to face with an obscure Christmas present you received more than thirty years ago within five minutes of randomly awakening with the silly thing in mind for no rational reason whatsoever?
I can't imagine that I got my Bee Gees Rhythm Machine any later than 1980, which means that I was six years old at the most at the time. Even likelier would be 1979, given that the product was introduced in '78 and my folks, not being made of money, were often a year behind on their toys. No complaints here: even as a kid, I wasn't really the newest-latest-or-bust sort.
While you're still busy wallowing in the amazing kitsch of this thing, there's something I need to tell you about myself: whatever small dollop of musical ability I may possess is solely as a listener. I have never shown even the slightest aptitude for composing or performing music, much to my eternal chagrin. I'd love to play, even on the most modest level, but it's always just been beyond me. Guitar-wise, I can maybe stumble my way through "Blitzkrieg Bop", and even only then if someone reminds me where my fingers are supposed to go and if I keep my eyes glued to them from there. My singing's no better, either; there is a reason, and a very good one at that, why Karaoke is held almost exclusively in establishments that serve alcohol.
I tell you all of this simply to underscore how brave my parents were in procuring this gift for me. Then as now, I was something of a fan of obnoxious noise; unfortunately for my benevolent folks, most of the sounds that came out of my Bee Gees Rhythm Machine had more in common with Metal Machine Music than the melodic soft-rock/disco hybrid purveyed by the Aussies pictured on the box. My creations - all improvised, mind you - started with me picking one of the pre-installed rhythms (usually "Disco" - of the zeitgeist was I, even as a lad), playing something semi-melodic for about three key presses, then:
To me it was great fun: for months following that Christmas, I toted the damned thing with me wherever I went, presaging the soothing sounds of Sonic Youth the entire time. I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my folks for their patience, and on a more serious note for pointing me towards music from such a young age, my lack of talent notwithstanding. I'd also like to pass their gift on to you, dear readers, all these years later. Provided you've got a flash plug-in installed in your internet browser (which, most likely, you do), simply click here and begin improvising your own avant-garde masterpieces, Bee Gees-style. Like I said at the beginning of this post, the internet truly is a magical thing.