Sometime during my junior high years my father took me to the apartment of my half-brother Mark and his wife. It was a surreal event.
Mark was the one who played me the Alice Cooper and the Pink Floyd when I was young. He was cool and hip and the kind you look up to and admire before you are old enough to really understand the issues that are at play. To me he was the car souping up, music loving older brother I never had. He lived with us for a short while (thus my exposure to the Cooper and Floyd) but eventually got his own place and I rarely saw him.
While staying the summer with my dad he asked if I would like to go Mark’s apartment and meet his wife. He was married now and my dad thought that his new wife was good for him (Mark had a lot of issues, both physical and self-induced) and was trying to be supportive. So we went. It had been a long time since I had seen him.
Mark’s apartment was decorated in stereotypical 70’s stoner chic.
He proudly displayed the best in black light posters (something like this)
and selected something from his current favorites to put on the turntable. I don’t know why but I feel like it was John Denver. Strange. Anyway, we discussed his trials and tribulations at work, his recent seizure history and the latest 1957 Chevy car model he was building with his wife (an activity that she eagerly did with him) that they were about to paint. It was weird and I recall that I looked at my father in a different way after that, with a depth of wonder and appreciation for how he dealt with Mark and the clear issues that affected him. It couldn’t have been easy. He told me years later that during the time when Mark lived close he had stopped by one night and smoked “grass” with Mark to try to understand him better.
At any rate, the reason I am writing this, is because of anther thing that I recall about the event. There was a piece of stereo equipment that Mark showed us that I haven’t really thought about much until recently, but that wowed me back then. When he flipped the record to Side B, he gave us the “check it out” smile and turn on the black lights and off the regular lights. The music kicked in and the sound was crazy. It was echoing and reverberating and was thick and cosmic and messed up. Mark proudly pointed to the reverb unit he had purchased to space out the sound. It was cool. I was impressed with it. There were tons of knobs and as he messed with them the sound reacted and changed in odd ways. He could stretch out the echo duration and add effects to it. It was amazing.
In my entire adult life I have never met another person who had one of these. I don’t know if that is because I lead an endearing yet secluded life, or because the novelty of using a reverb with your stereo has diminished since the psychedelic era.
A brief Google search reveals that they are still around. More as guitar pedals however. Some that I found that were component style were crazy expensive, which suggest music studio use rather than stereo use, but there were a few cheap ones.
Does anyone use these anymore? I’d love to hear about how.