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21 Summers – 21 Summers [1986]

Chicago based 21 SUMMERS was a curious band for sure. Perhaps not for their music – a mix of melodic rock / power pop and AORish new wave – but for being the world’s first ‘video band’. 21 Summers was created by guitarist & composer Reid Brody who in the mid-80s worked at a post-production video studio in Chicago. Brody thought at the time that video-clips and MTV were the future in music industry, and he founded 21 Summers with this idea in mind.

Indeed, still unsigned and never having played live, 21 Summers put together a five-song video demo – not just 4-track tape like all bands – highly professionally made including computer effects, a must for the era. So Brody, instead of distributing an audio-cassette tape to all record companies, armed with his videos, went directly to MTV.
The band was selected for the MTV’s “Basement Tapes” competition where new unsigned bands presented a video for a ‘video battle’. Winner would get a record contract with Elektra and music equipment.

21 Summers qualified for the finals, but didn’t won. However, a record label from Denmark ‘MEGA Records’ were very interested in the band and they secured the release of the self-titled LP “21 Summers” in Europe. But the label wanted a more ‘punchy’ sound so the album was remixed and the guitar solos – performed by a soon to be famous player (more on this below) – were put higher in dynamics.

21 Summers were an unlucky combo in all aspects. Reid Brody also designed an innovative guitar for the era: the ‘dual mode guitar’, consisting of two opposite necks (one 6-string, the other 12-string) at either end of the guitar body with a belt pivot to spin the instrument and change the neck. This created a great visual effect.

In 1982 Brody presented his double-guitar to Dean Guitars for a possible signature model, but it was rejected under the statement ‘your guitar is a carnival item!’ Few months later on MTV in the famous video for the song ‘Legs’, ZZ Top was playing spinning guitars much like Brody’s. Guess who made that guitars for ZZ Top… yes, Dean Guitars.

Even more, guess who was the soon-to-be-famous guitar solo’s player on “21 Summers”? A guy credited in the LP under the name Mike Batio. Yes, the guitar shredder later known as Michael Angelo (Batio) and famous for his… double neck guitar. Brody’s best idea was stolen by various, and he never received the credits despite of patenting his spin guitar. And regarding the videos predating the LP / cassettes / CD in the future, he was not overly wrong. This idea was discussed by various record companies after MTV exploded. But they had a problem: portability. VCR’s were too much heavy! Rare

Band Members
Kevin Friend – Vocals
Reid Brody – Guitar
Justin Niebank – Bass, keyboards
Haim Brody – Drums
Mike Batio – Guitar solos

Tracks
01. I Am the One
02. Little Girl
03. Linger
04. Come Closer
05. I Am Missing Elaine
06. Let It Be Linda [extra track]
07. Walk Away
08. Tumbling Down
09. Once in a Lifetime
10. Dream
11. We All Get What We Want in Time

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