Quad LP/Tape Poll Stevens, Ray: Ray Stevens' Greatest Hits [SQ/Q8]

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Rate Ray's Greatest Hits

  • 10: Great sound, mix, content

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 9

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 8

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5: Mediocrity Central

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3

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  • 2

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  • 1: Sux

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

EMB

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Barnaby ZQ 30770, from 1971.

Side 1:

Everything is Beautiful
Gitarzan
Isn't It Lonely Together
Harry the Hairy Ape
Have a Little Talk With Myself
America, Communicate With me

Side 2:

Mr. Businessman
Along Came Jones
Bridget the Midget
Unwind
Ahab the Arab

ED :)
 

Q8

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I have been wondering what the mixes are like on this. Were they good? Bad? What sort of placement? I am especially interested in the comedy tunes such as Guitarzan, Ahab The Arab, Etc. I would hope there would be some cool (and funny) effects.
 

EMB

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I'll have to force myself to go back and listen to this one; not a Ray fan, really, though I liked a handful of his Mercury singles. Unfortunately, the Mercury songs here are live versions. Not sure about the Monument cuts, whether they're actually Monument or not, though regardless, "Gitarzan" will in no way resemble the original 45 version, since AFAIK that was never reissued anywhere beyond a 45. The Barnaby hits are pretty good, though because of what they are, nothing to blow you away; "Everything is Beautiful" is nice and spacious, FWIW.

ED :)
 

Q8

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Oddly enough, I am actually more accustomed to the later live version of Guitarzan anyway.
 

Q-Eight

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As far as I know, there are no live cuts on this album, but there are re-records. Ahab the Arab is one such tune and is really only half the song. Gitarzan is the studio cut, however it does somewhat match the 45 in that the crowd noise doesn't really kick in until they introduce Gitarzan in the song. The crowd noise is there, however it's much, much lower volume than the stereo cut, but comes right out like on the 45 when they introduce Gitarzan.

This album suffers from it's mix. It's very lopsided. For example Drums and bass will be in both lefts with a piano in BR and a tambourine in FR. I think they were more concerned with SQ compatibility than discrete placement on this one though I really can't say for sure.

Wonky mixes, but some great tunes.
 

Q8

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Okay, that made up my mind to find this one. Mix may be wonky, but at least it's a real mix. Do they do anything interesting with the vocals?
 

EMB

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I went back and listened...umm. Right, no live stuff, but studio recordings with crowd overdubs that are rather poorly mixed in. The Monument material is the real deal, but the mixes are kinda wonky, and it's worth noting who's to blame: Ray Stevens himself, since he supervised the quad remixes (a rarity for artists at that time, but Ray was a longtime arranger and musician in Nashville, so he knew his way around a console). "Ahab" is a bad rerecording, though: it has *most* if not all of the story (but certainly much more than the heavily edited Mercury 45 which was his first hit), but lacks the original's spark and momentum: the full album version moves the plot right along and its' perfect; here, the story and effects are very clunky, and "Harry" is no better. As I noted, the Barnaby singles are well mixed, although the horribly preachy "America, Communicate with Me" can't be saved, regardless of mix quality. Ray later let his right-wing leanings show more blatantly in the '80s--"America" was an early warning sign.

ED :)
 

Q8

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As I noted, the Barnaby singles are well mixed, although the horribly preachy "America, Communicate with Me" can't be saved, regardless of mix quality. Ray later let his right-wing leanings show more blatantly in the '80s--"America" was an early warning sign.
ED :)
With Ray Stevens, I have to let myself look past (and skip past) all the spiritual and political stuff and focus on the great comedy cuts.

And I think I know which version of Ahab they used here from your decription, and it is a wreck compared to the original. No flow. I think that Q-Eight may be right that he left some things out. Its seems that by then, he forgot how some parts are supposed to go, or he had done the song so many times he just didn't care anymore.
 

EMB

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Yeah, it's an almost cynical rendering, isn't it? I mean, he got away with that original 45 edit even though it hacked out most of the plot (fortunately, whenever the original of "Ahab" was reissued somewhere, the full length version was almost always used). Here, he treats it cavalierly, as if he's just going thru the motions because that song was expected to be on a 'hits' comp (understandably).

ED :)
 

Q-Eight

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I do have to admit that 'Bridget the Midget' is a guilty pleasure. Neat little song. Love the shooby-doo-wop parts. LoL
 

Q8

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Q-Eight said:
As far as I know, there are no live cuts on this album, but there are re-records. Ahab the Arab is one such tune and is really only half the song. Gitarzan is the studio cut, however it does somewhat match the 45 in that the crowd noise doesn't really kick in until they introduce Gitarzan in the song. The crowd noise is there, however it's much, much lower volume than the stereo cut, but comes right out like on the 45 when they introduce Gitarzan.

This album suffers from it's mix. It's very lopsided. For example Drums and bass will be in both lefts with a piano in BR and a tambourine in FR. I think they were more concerned with SQ compatibility than discrete placement on this one though I really can't say for sure.

Wonky mixes, but some great tunes.
Is it me or are there some songs where the lead vocal is in front left and rear right?
 

Q-Eight

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Is it me or are there some songs where the lead vocal is in front left and rear right?
I just reviewed the Q8 tonight and I can safely say that there are no cross-channel vocals, however in some cases there are some pretty strong echoes in the rear channels.

One thing I did consider tonight about the lop-sided mix was that if you swap the back channels side for side, you get the RCA style Bass in front right and back left - essentially centering the bass (rather than having it mixed front-center properly). On headphones, I notice by swapping the channels it centered the drums, centered the bass and actually fixed some (but not all) of the phase errors on this tape. Why it's mixed this way is anybody's guess - maybe it's for SQ compatibility? Maybe it's because the bulk of the masters are 8-track and I strongly get the impression that Columbia rarely allowed 8-track sources to be allowed to Quad. (Ray Stevens generally recorded in Nashville and from what I've read, the Columbia Studios down there resisted changing over to 16-track as long as they could.)

I also caught that by swapping the channels, the deep-voiced "I dig it" fella on Bridget the Midget actually does a sweeping pan from back left across the front around to back right.

So, I really do think this Q8 has a channel error, it has quite a number of phase errors (some correctable, some not) and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they used the SQ master tape for this rather than mixing a separate discrete tape.
 
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EMB

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Which is exactly why reel tape was the perfect consumer medium for quad: pure discrete, fairly good fidelity (provided the mastering and duping was done right). Vinyl was always problematic anyway, since any medium that needed an outside decoder would be prone to more anomalies and limitations.

I'm not sure the music was a good choice for quad (though "Everything Is Beautiful" logically should have been). That said, you're probably right, there's a channel error, at the least.

ED :)
 
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