I consider this to be the greatest stereo demonstration album ever made, and half of it is in mono. Produced by Electro-Voice, a name still commonly found on microphones in recording and air studios, this is the template not only for stereo demos, but stereo marketing.
Although it lacks a date, the stereo 101 nature of the album places it at the dawn of home stereo in 1958. Although stereo sound had been in existence for decades at that point, people had mono equipment at home. As with any new technology, the question for sellers was how to convince people that the newer, more expensive stereo sets were better. Electro-Voice does this by going for the juglar of the middle-class American working man, right down to model names that invoke nobility, such as The Patrician, The Centurion, and The Baronette.
Side 1, presented in mono, explains what stereo high fidelity is, and why you want and need it. If you've set foot in an electronics department recently, you'll find the same ideas being discussed: better frequency response, dedicated speakers, sound dispersion. A good bit of time is spent pushing the need for ultra-low bass and ultra-high treble to get the fullness of the sound. Never mind that we can't even hear those frequencies, you'll miss them if you don't have them. This album goes a step further than most by presenting the sounds played by each of Electro-Voice's four speakers.
Side 2 comes with a warning that it's not to be played on monaural equipment. This is stereo, and probably one of the oldest commercially available stereo albums. You'll hear effects that would soon become cliches, such as the jet flying overhead and the thunderclap, along with some unique sounds, like an arrow hitting a target. There's also plenty of classical and popular music, including renditions of "Taking a Chance on Love" and "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi." What you won't find on here, unlike last week's An Introduction to Quadraphonic Sound, is anything approaching rock and roll. Considering that The Patrician cost $900 (according to the album), Dad isn't letting the kids near the thing.
The superb production is best summed up in the stereo fantasia built from watch sounds toward the end of Side 2. Looping audio was no simple matter in that age of recording, so someone put a lot of love into creating the track. If you like Alan Parson's intro to Pink Floyd's "Time," you'll love this and perhaps wonder, as I do, if this wasn't an influence on Parsons.
Very few sales albums aspired to this level of entertainment. The customer they want is the high-earning free spender, and they make the classic appeal to modernity and superior quality with a relaxing presentation that generates excitment about stereo and makes you an expert in high fidelity reproduction.
Sadly, I don't have the catalog that came with this album. I wish I did. And, as a note to the audophiles out there, this isn't the best rip I've ever posted. The album itself is in good shape, better shape, in fact, than the turntable at WMFO, which imparted a bit of tonearm noise and decided to pick up another radio station while this was playing. The noise is most evident at the end of Side 1 and the midpoint of Side 2.