- A vintage pressing boasting superb Living Stereo sound from start to finish
- Absolutely As Good As It Gets – it’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound!
- This phenomenal copy is just plain bigger, richer and clearer than any we can remember playing – part of the reason for that is that it takes us about five years to find enough clean copies of a record like this in order to do a shootout
- It also helps that both of these sides are in correct polarity, a subject we discuss in many listings here
- If you’re a fan of percussion extravaganzas, this Living Stereo from 1958 is about as good as it gets
The hottest stamper pressings of this album are Demo Discs for three important qualities we listen for in our record auditions. Each of the links below will take you to other recordings we have found to be potentially superior in these areas of reproduction.
Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs, and rightfully so. It certainly can be a Super Disc, but only when you have the right pressing. This is one of the Demo Discs on the TAS List which truly deserves its status when, and only when, you have the right copy. (The typical copy is quite good, but it sure doesn’t sound like this.) Nothing else in our shootout could touch it. And it’s IN PHASE. Many copies are not.
This vintage Living Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Bang, Baa-room and Harp Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1958
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We’re Listening For On Bang, Baa-room and Harp
Top end, plain and simple. It’s the RARE copy that really has the incredible extension of this side two. The space, the clarity, the harmonic complexity — perhaps one out of ten copies will show you a side two such as this.
The highs are so good on this record you can use it as a setup tool. Adjust your VTA, tracking weight and the like for the most natural and clear top end, then check for all the other qualities you want to hear and you may just find yourself operating on a higher plane than before.
Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp is yet another one of the many pressings we’ve discovered with reversed polarity on some copies.
Are audiophile reviewers or audiophiles in general listening critically to records like this? I wonder; I could not find word one about any polarity issues with this title, and yet we’ve played four or five copies with reversed polarity on side two. How come nobody is hearing it, apart from us?
We leave you, dear reader, to answer that question for yourself.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
- National Emblem March
- Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
- Ding Dong Polka
- April in Paris
- Holiday in a Hurray
- Buck Dance
- Duel on the Skins
- September in the Rain
- Tiddley Winks
- The Sheik of Araby
Commentary from the Space Age Pop website
Schory was a classically trained percussionist who moved easily from symphony to experimental music to popular recordings. He served in the percussion section of the Chicago Symphony, worked as educational and Picture of Dick Schoryadvertising director for the Ludwig Drum Company, formed the New Percussion Ensemble and commissioned contemporary composers to write pieces for it, and wrote and recorded musical backgrounds for radio and television commercials.
Schory was a major influence on both classical and popular percussion music. He moved comfortably from the concert hall to the recording studio, and worked closely with music educators to broaden acceptance and understanding of percussion instruments and compositions. He wrote in 1960,
There are no limits when it comes to instrumentation in the amazing new field of percussion ensembles. Everything from auto brake drums, inverted rice bowls, and even a manifold from a ’46 Chevrolet are included with surprisingly good musical results. If it can be struck and can be classified as a percussion instrument, someone, somewhere has scored for it.
Schory’s albums for RCA offer choice samples of this music, sometimes simply enhancing standard studio band arrangements with percussion accents, but often rebuilding the whole piece around the percussion ensemble. Critic R. D. Darnell of High Fidelity magazine was one of Schory’s strongest supporters, writing of the album, Wild Percussion and Horns A’Plenty,
At first glance, Schory’s program conforms more closely to current trends (which he pioneered long before the now-dominant “Persuasive” and “Provocative” [see Enoch Light–ed.] series) but he consistently transcends these in musical taste, verve, unfailing wit, and superb sense of dramatic stereogenics.
While we might now cringe at the thought of anyone practicing “stereogenics” of any kind, dramatic or not, we can certainly recognize Schory’s ability to bring the highest level of professionalism in his mastery of percussion to space age pop.