How to Wreck a Nice Beach

NPR has posted an audio story on the history of the Vocoder. They interview Dave Tompkins who recently wrote a book called How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop. Grab the book from Amazon (about $20): click here

“If you’ve listened to pop music in the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard more than a few songs with a robotic sound. That’s thanks to the vocoder, a device invented by Bell Labs, the research division of AT&T. Though the vocoder has found its way into music, the machine was never intended for that function. Rather, it was developed to decrease the cost of long-distance calls and has taken on numerous other uses since.” –

To listen to the audio story on NPR: click here

NPR chats about “Appetite For Self-Destruction”.


Appetite For Self-Destruction is a great new book by Steve Knopper about the crash of the music industry. NPR (National Public Radio) has a 38 minute interview with Mr. Knopper and it’s a must listen for any musician. The interview, which aired on NPR’s superb show Fresh Air was posted yesterday so it’s a fresh look back at all the simultaneous ways the record Appetite for Self-Destructionindustry blew it. Greed, laughable negotiations with Apple and CD-R manufacturers, and top level execs not listening to their younger underlings yelling “Napster is the future!” are just some of the things that contributed to this spectacular crash. As a musician it maybe painful to listen to because this was once a valid livelihood but it’s time to re-tool the workshop and produce a different product.

“In the sub-sub-genre of books about rock music and the industry, I rank this right up there with classics like “Hit Men” and “The Death of Rhythm and Blues.” We think in terms of “industry,” but through his deftly drawn portraits of industry leaders, Knopper helps us see clearly how we got to here from there: simple bad decision making and a blatant refusal to consider, first, that the world had changed and then a stunning lack of curiosity about how it had changed. Highly recommended. Enjoy!” – Patricia Romanowski, (book review)

The interview is online so head over and listen now: click here

Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age (Hardcover) is available at Amazon for $17.16: click here

photo credit: alwright1