Bob and Ray
Throw a Stereo Spectacular, Part One
(British pressing SF-5023 and two track 7½ ips tape CPS-199.)
It had been fully two moons since the mighty crash of tremendous sized brass knockers on my huge foot thick Honduran mahogany doors had announced the arrival of Bob the Diver Duchan to collaborate on my crazed, albeit scientific, investigations as Chief Science Officer of the Positive Fleabag Office of Scientific Albeit Crazed Research. The subject today was to be the one, the only, the original Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular from the Golden Age of Recording. In that era RCA was trying to persuade the public to buy a second amp and a second speaker and enter the promised land of stereo. Naturally, the public had to have something to play on their new stereo so RCA produced a series of memorable stereo recordings sparing no expense in the process. One of these famous recordings is the aforementioned Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular, actually a sampler featuring the likes of the lovely Lena Horne, the fabulous Julie Andrews, and the amazing Abbe Lane.
Also included are some quaint artifacts from that period such as the Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band and Dick Schory's New Percussion Ensemble. Listening to this record is to be transported back to an age of cocktail parties where sophisticated men in snappy suits sidled up to svelte women clad in slinky black to discuss the latest pre-amp.
From the first crash of thunder to Bob and Ray's final desperate squeal, generations of audiophiles have taken unalloyed delight in this album, especially the sound effects such as the mighty crash of tremendous sized brass knockers on Dr. Ahkbar's huge foot thick Honduran mahogany doors. Other favorites are the human pendulum, good for checking how well your system conveys height information with the classic line I'm sure he'll be very happy to learn that you're pleased with him as the hapless driver swings back and forth. The round room which has a band of bagpipers going round and round demonstrates side to side and front to back information.
After taking a vote, Bob and I found ourselves in unanimous agreement that the tape outshone the LP in every way. Overall, the tape sounded more relaxed, particularly on the aforementioned female voices. E.g., Lena's voice when she sings the word Oh. The LP is not as crisp although still very natural. Bob especially liked the way the organ blossomed on The First Noel.
Buck Dance Shootout
The sample track, Buck Dance, is taken from from the equally famous MUSIC FOR BANG, baa-rOOM AND HARP (LSP-1866). As I happened to have two original issues and a Classic reissue on hand, we did a shootout for Buck Dance only to get an idea of how our two editions of Bob and Ray compared to the rest of the Shaded Dog universe.
Bog Standard #1: I got this copy from a mass sale of Shaded Dogs. It's the sort of pressing you can expect to get from your neighborhood used record store. In other words, a bog standard pressing. The surface noise was quite loud.
Albeit it was the worst pressing in our sample, it's still an impressive record. At the end of Buck Dance, you can clearly hear the taps receding into the depths of Orchestra Hall.
Man alive, is this track cheesy or what? If you haven't heard Buck Dance in awhile, brace yourself for a massive influx of cheese. The xylophones. The tap dancing. It's all so redolent of the cocktail parties in Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Bob and Ray: This pressing had more bass and more presence than Bog Standard #1. The bells had tremendous resonance in Minuet on the Rocks. The Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra track presents the ultimate test of a full orchestra. Some use solo female voice as the test of a system but this misses the tremendous sonic power of a full orchestra. Our pressing had the full dynamic range that goes from a whisper to a roar in a split second. Massed horns and percussion were presented with their full weight.
Bog Standard #2: Way more presence and more bass yet than the Bob and Ray pressing. Just goes to show how even two bog standard copies can sound very different. The surface noise was quite loud on this copy too (about the same as bog standard #1).
Classic: Tremendous clarity and presence. Great resonance and pluck on bass.. Very clean surface. The sound had a solidity, weight and presence that was absent on the other LP versions.
Tape: Good as the Classic was, the tape was more relaxed and natural in presentation. The soundstage is huge extending well past the speakers and also had tremendous height. Ah, the lovely clang of the bells on Buck Dance. The deep bass is phenomenal. As Bob and Ray make their way up to the round room, you really sense the ominously dark and cavernous staircase. Nothing beats a good tape. Nothing.
The System That Time Forgot
Cartridge: Benz LP
Arm: VPI 9 inch JPW
Turntable: VPI TNT 1 with aluminum platter
Pre-pre Amp: MFA Luminescence B1C
Transport and head: Studer B62
Tape head pre: Manley Lab
Rest of System:
Manley Wave Pre, Manley 440's and 500's, Eminent Technology 8B's, Hsu 12” subwoofers. NBS wires.
By an amazing coincidence, not only was this album by Bob and Ray reviewed by Bob and Ray, but it was produced/engineered by Bob and Ray making this a Bob and Ray Trifecta.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the United States Mint, one of the nation's leading producers of U.S. Currency.