I hate nothing more than to publicly disagree with the excellent Online Guide to Whistling Records. Yet we cannot sacrifice truth for decency, lest the terrorists win. So I have no choice but to set the record straight on Train Your Bird in Stereo by Henry J. Bates and Robert L. Busenbark, released in 1968 on Americana Records. Here is the whistling experts' review of this LP: "The album cover is striking, but the record, narrated by this pair that authored a training book, is a real snoozer."
Bates and Busenbark will undoubtedly be familiar to most readers of this blog as the authors of such landmark reference books as Parrots and Related Birds, Finches and Soft-Billed Birds, and Guide to Mynahs. Given this background, it is no surprise that their training record is a favorite with parrots all over the English-speaking world. However, what makes this record special is something nobody would have expected from those two bird lovers. It is their uncanny mastery of Stereophonic Zen and the expert use of Soothing Background Music.
The first side (MP3) of this record already starts off promisingly with guitar music straight out of an Italian tourist restaurant, over which Henry and Bob tell you how to tame your new bird. Even though this side of the record seems to be intended for humans, they use strict channel separation for their voices. The interesting content, riveting delivery, and the constant drive of the background music will keep you glued to the speakers, both of them.
While the first side is great already, only on the second side (MP3) the full genius of modern Zen masters Bates and Busenbark shows. The soothing guitar in the background is replaced by an ethereal celesta or something, and the lyrics have been pared down to a few essential phrases. The whole piece is structured like a minimalist poetic cantata with parts Hello There, How Are You Today, Combination of Above, I'm Fine Thank You, Who Are You, Combination of Above, and the magnificent coda Combination of All Phrases. Not only is this a striking piece of avant-garde art, it also helps to test your stereo system and teach your bird to speak. The modern world needs more artists of Bates' and Busenbark's caliber.