One important comparison of the Roland boutique SH-01A to the original SH-101 I haven’t yet seen: can it ski?

Well, anyway, that was a selling point Roland seemed to want to push when it came to the original. (Fetching your own matching lycra bodysuit – now that you can do, if you so choose, today.)

A series of color ads from Keyboard magazine (USA) in 1984 introduced the idea of mobility on the SH-101 synth. Color-coded ads depicted different mobile scenarios: a woman on a skateboard, a guy on skis, and an entire band on a scooter, always matching outfit color to synth color. (Cool.)

Retro Synth Ads picked this up a few years ago, with some insightful commentary. Most of all – there was a green unit. Dear Roland: please issue red and green SH-01A, not just blue?

Roland also seemed to have something crazy going with its keyboardist fashion. Yes, please, let’s all dress like this. The hell with all black!

Also, kudos to Roland design and layout from this era:

It’s maybe worth revisiting this over two decades later, as now mobility is again a selling point. Not bad for 1984: the SH-101 offered battery power, strap-on operation, and of course what was for the time “compact” size. Now, the modern Boutique series shrinks to the size of a TB-303 – though it loses the “keytar” function in the process. On the other hand, part of the pitch here was to get keyboardists out from behind the rest of the band. That never entirely caught on – and if anything, keyboardists fronting the band often do so simply just play behind keyboard stands.

But if keytars weren’t the wave of the future, mobility sure was. “Takes you where you want to go” is a great tagline. And I miss this age of ads, actually. We just need to go back to print, huh? (Who’s game?)