Warm obsession. Makes me happy.

I have until now been a little chary of posting from my cache of bootleg Bob & Ray mp3s, primarily because

1) I’d rather not set myself up in direct opposition to www.bobandray.com, one of the most comprehensive and well-maintained official celebrity sites out there, which offers – via both CD and iTunes – pretty much their entire career neatly packaged in high-quality audio skits. If you don’t want to pay for same, your local library probably has copies of at least a few cassette sets; and

2)After all, the free stuff is available to anybody with half a brain half able to work a search engine. It’s awfully easy to be noble when even ruddy Wikipedia’s doing the dirty work for you.

However. In the course of comments on my article, mention was made that I’d inspired others to go hunt up Bob & Ray material on their own…and, seeing as how same comments, not to say the reading that inspired them, were made at I’m sure great personal sacrifice of time and trouble…I kind of wanted to say thanks, and figured this might be the best way to do it. Besides which, as previously noted, I needed an excuse to relisten, badly.

After all, a small sampler selection of my favourites shouldn’t cause any real harm….the skits are amazing in and of themselves, but the shows in their entirety – they’re just special. Besides, as I informed the last sputterings of my conscience, once you’ve stomped all over the copyrights of Patrick McManus, you’re pretty much on the bottom twist of the downward spiral anyway.

Thusly, I offer below my personal Best of the standard p2p collection of Bob & Ray downloads…

Those new to this particular monomania of mine should note that Bob (Elliot) is the one with the higher-pitched voice, Ray (Goulding) is the baritone…except of course when Ray’s performing as the women (including home ec guru Mary McGoon) which is a whole ‘nother story. Everybody else – with the exception of the musical help on the Boston show – is also either one man or the other, including the audience and most of the tech help. Ray is usually the guest, Bob the interviewer.

Some commercials have been removed, some haven’t – although the commercials are nifty nostalgia exercises in and of themselves (Four-Way Cold Tablets, now only 29 cents!). File size varies from about 3-7MB; sound quality is pretty good, considering.

Matinee With Bob & Ray – Half-hour show that ran on WHDH-AM Boston between 1948-1951. Essentially, the station brass took their new DJ, his announcer, and their on-air ‘kibitzing’, and told them to go fill the dead air before the afternoon Red Sox games with…something. Completely ad-libbed, wholly irreverent (they were all of 26 & 27 at the time) and utterly endearing.

August 13, 1949 – Casting, writing, performing, and editing your typical prime-time weeknight lineup…not necessarily in that order. Featuring another rousing tale of that beloved Western hero, the Lone Agent, and his loyal(ish) sidekick Pronto.

August 22, 1949 – Just another routine Monday at the office…well, except maybe the purple jellybean thing. Which somehow leads into a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe; also, Bob attempts to demonstrate how easy it is to make a ‘simple phone call’ and get a free trial TV set.

October 21st, 1949 – ‘Mr. Agony’ tries his best to save a marriage…or at least, his client’s suit; later, the boys provide an audio tour into the dark heart of radio production, coming face-to-face with the guy who’s in charge of adding cliches to the news broadcasts.

December 8, 1949 – It’s a Very Bob & Ray Christmas: a visit to Santa’s workshop takes a Charles Addams-esque twist, and Mary offers suggestions for turning argyle socks into classy table decorations. After which Ray dedicates a chorus of I Can’t Give You Anything But Love to ‘someone I know very very well…’ and is so rattled by his public display of adult emotion that he spends the rest of the show hiccuping loudly.

January 14th, 1950 – Phil Goulding, the announcer for the Morey Amsterdam Show, snags his kid brother and sidekick a gig as guest hosts for the evening. Featuring an early version of the ‘reuniting siblings separated for decades’ gag; also, the house pianist provides a surprisingly decent take on I Cover the Waterfront.

Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Weeknights @ 6:45, from 1959-1960. Essentially a surrealist take on your standard radio talk show, performed completely deadpan. Considered by a lot of fans to be their creative high point.

July 8, 1959 – Wally Ballou checks in from Grand River, Wyoming, for the dedication of the 33mil, 300K-plus capacity Pfeffernick Memorial Stadium; later, an episode of that testosterone-laden new adventure drama Whirling Birds, in which the duo’s self-consciousness at having to call each other ‘baby’ is almost as funny as the actual parody.

July 21, 1959
– As part of the ongoing search for a permanent theme, the cast experiment with four-part harmony; also, Barry Campbell – ‘star of stage, screen and television’ – drops by to discuss his attempts to cash in on the ‘recorded live’ album trend…at a diner in upstate Jersey. Let’s just say there are a few problems with the audio.

July 23, 1959 – Flaming Bombadine, the famed human cannonball, attempts to recreate his act in-studio using a trash can and an open door. If you want more than that, you’re downloading the wrong program.

September 17, 1959 – The Bob & Ray Overstocked Warehouse is, well, overstocked with door chimes…the ones that happened to have been manufactured before it was discovered that the factory foreman was tone-deaf; later, Tex and the Smokey Valley Boys audition for the gig at Mary’s new inn, and This Place for Heroes salutes a newspaper editor’s crusade against an evil jukebox baron.

October 14, 1959
Chat With Champions brings you the inspirational story of the Longest Letter recordholder, complete with sample of same; also featured is the Bob & Ray Two-Part Drama, which definitely has, uh, two parts. Later, Wally Ballou checks in at the Answer Desk of a local newspaper.

October 28, 1959 – Mary supervises the gang (excepting Ray, who ‘always cries when he loses’) as they demo a new game, called Have a Fun, that’s sure to sweep the nation. Do I really need to mention that a] the rules don’t actually involve peanut butter but b] it gets involved anyway?

March 30, 1960 – Bob interviews an, er, very dedicated children’s book author; also, Webley Webster drops by for a chat about his upcoming ‘coming-out party’ and the Good Neighbor Award is handed out to an, er, very dedicated boss.

Afternoon Show (‘Bob & Raydio’), WOR 710AM New York, 1973-1976 – In perhaps the oddest ratings grab of the 1970’s, the legendary station signed the equally legendary comedy duo on as afternoon drive hosts. It worked. In-between resuming their old announcing and DJing chores, they revived old routines, introduced new ones, and just generally proved that not a whole lot had changed in thirty years.

March 23, 1973 – A Milton-spouting engineer invades the studio for a soundcheck and an audience member demonstrates that those random trivia lists were annoying decades before email was invented. Later, the McBeeBee Twins drop by for a visit, and the Backstayge family boards the train for their Seattle premiere.

March 27, 1973 – The Association of Left-Handed Lady Steeplejacks is in town (all two of them); a guy wanders into the wrong studio and refuses to leave; and Dr. Arlington Garment discusses You and Your Symptoms.

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