March 26, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 7...

Hello all!! Throughout the course of Tuesday and into Wednesday the latest CD from Ray Stevens fluctuated all over the Top-100 on Amazon's sales list. Also, there happened to be a couple of articles published on Ray that were shared on social media sites...the articles included links to the CD and the current music video was embedded in some of those articles, too.

One of the articles is posted on the Vintage Vinyl News site located  HERE.

The article that got the biggest amount of sharing originated on Billboard's SITE. This exposure no doubt led to the video's hike in unique views. The last blog entry I posted in which I reported on the video numbers (back on March 21st) the video had reached 78,041. Looking at the numbers at the moment there's been a leap to 93,509!! A total of 15,468 additional people seen "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" over the course of the last couple of days.

Since the video's gotten even more exposure than before the critics have also started to chime in with their negative points of view. Everything from "does he think this is funny??", to "he's still alive??", to "this is pathetic...insulting..." have come raining down on the video. As mentioned in previous blogs the reason I embed music videos is to avoid a direct link to a video's home page...because usually the home page of a video is filled with mean and hateful commentary (particularly true for the political comedy videos he did).

In the meantime...did any of you stumble upon my review of Ray's CD? I posted it yesterday and then I posted it over on Amazon. In case you didn't see it here's the AMAZON review. Currently there are 2 customer reviews...mine being one of them. Someone actually beat me to being the first customer review by a couple of hours. You can leave commentary or rate my customer review if you'd can also purchase the CD if you hadn't done so already. The Mp3 is also available, too! You can purchase it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

March 25, 2015

Ray Stevens: Here We Go Again! CD...My Review...

***My review of Ray's current CD contains spoilers! If you don't want to read about the songs or learn of any of the hooks, phrases, or some of the lyrics then don't read the rest of this blog entry***

After taking a detour, of sorts, over the last 5+ years and releasing some hilarious political songs on a couple of CD's, plus issuing a 9-CD box set called The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music (containing his versions of novelty songs of the last 50+ years), a majestic gospel CD last year called Gospel Collection, Volume One, and a memoir titled Ray Stevens' Nashville...after those projects, Ray Stevens returns to country comedy on his latest CD. The cover art, as you can see, takes place in an airport setting. In a touch of silliness, a gorilla plays the part of the chauffeur. On the back of the CD the songs are listed as if they're flights posted on the Arrival board. The CD's first single release arrived in music video form a month ago...titled "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" it's a story of a man that's obsessed ith the belief that he's being stalked by the pop-country singer because, according to him, he sees her everywhere and given that her likeness appears everywhere he happens to be he thinks she's stalking him. The song has a comical twist ending, though. Throughout the song he insists that Taylor's up in a tree looking at him with binoculars.

After the bouncy opening track about Taylor we're treated to Ray covering one of his musical idols, Ray Charles. I pretty much know that the purists that'll hear the Ray Stevens rendition of the Ray Charles classic "What'd I Say" aren't gong to like it. After all, they may ask, how can you top a Ray Charles recording?

I don't necessarily believe Ray Stevens set out to try and top the classic rendition from Ray Charles, though. I think that Ray Stevens simply wanted to record the song and so he did. I happen to love the rendition. Even if some may groan about the idea of someone other than the late Ray Charles performing that song at least it gives Ray Stevens an opportunity to display his obvious love for classic Rhythm and Blues music.

Aside from the song about Taylor Swift, one of my other favorites from this CD is "There Must Be a Pill For This". This one is vintage Ray tells the story of pills...and the enormous quantity of pills that are on the market for everything under the sun. Pills to help thick people lose weight, and pills to help frail people gain weight. It's a satire on pills...miracle pills, specifically...and as an added pleasure there's a parody of those lengthy disclaimers that appear as voice-overs on healthcare commercials.

The tempo changes for the next song, "Walkin' the Dog". In this one Ray sings of constantly bickering with his wife. Instead of moping around the house he simply goes outside, gets Rover, and walks the dog. He reckons that once he starts to take the dog for a walk he may run into a woman putting on the dog (presumably to be a possible new love interest). Track Five is thrilling...a cover of "Hearts Made of Stone". I looked up the song's title and found out that it had been a Rhythm and Blues hit in 1954 for a group called The Charms. I had heard an audio clip of Ray's recording and since that time I had been wondering the reason for the 1950's-style of audio (complete with echo!) and I eventually found out the reason. It's clearly the stand-out song on the CD if only for it not vocally sounding like anything else. I love the over-dubbed do-wah harmonies heard throughout.

The most country sounding recording on the entire CD is "Pickin' on the Chicken". This one, too, is one of my favorites. In the song Ray sings from a chicken's point of view and he demands to know the reason so many negative expressions are associated with chickens, hens, and eggs. Throughout the song we're treated to a list of expressions and sayings that put the chicken in a bad light...expressions like 'madder than a wet hen'; 'that's chicken feed'; 'He's got egg on his face'; 'One flew the coop'; etc. Ray also manages to get in a reference to Willie Nelson, too, in a laugh out loud funny one-liner.

The second-most country sounding recording is "The Baptism of Stumpy Brown". The song is about an atheist that suddenly finds religion in his 90s and insists on being baptized as a result. The frail body in a raging river is bound to cause some incidents...and Ray tells of those in this story. Inspiration surfaces in the song "Little by Little". There is a song on here called "You Didn't Build That"...let's just say I find it hilarious...but it's something that more than likely is not going to go over too well with, say, fans of the President. That song is followed by a contemporary classic in the form of the illegal immigration anthem "Come to the U.S.A." (a song from 2010). Illegal immigration is a hot topic and one that's consistently controversial. Although I'm reviewing the CD there's an Mp3 copy for sale, too, and that means customers can pick and choose the songs they want to purchase from Here We Go Again! I prefer having a physical copy of the CD.

Along the lines of manhood and masculinity comes "A Handshake Will Do", track 11. The lyrics cry foul on guys hugging other guys unless it's called for and Ray gives examples for when it's okay. Ironically, on the day this CD went on sale, a picture of Larry Gatlin attempting to hug Ray appeared on Ray's social media sites. There's no reference to this song, as far as the picture is concerned, though. I call it just one of those ironic coincidences.

Ray had appeared as a guest artist on the Grand Ole Opry on March 21st on a segment hosted by Larry Gatlin.

The CD's closing track, "Knock Him Out John", is another one of my favorites. I call it a tribute to the late Jerry Clower. It's a recap of Jerry's story of the time he and some of his friends went hunting for racoons and ended up having an encounter with a lynx. Ray's recording is the story set to music. Ray does his rendition of Jerry's holler and it appears at various moments during the song's chorus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the CD...his restless energy and incredible vocals are on full display on this CD!

March 23, 2015

Ray Stevens: Here We Go Again! CD now available...

Hello all and a happy CD release day, too! Oh yes, the Ray Stevens CD that I've been blogging about the last couple of months is finally available for purchase starting today. It's been available for pre-order since late February but today is the official release day for Here We Go Again!, a 12 song CD.

I had gotten a surprise in my mailbox at the post article of mail had arrived from Clyde Records. I didn't remember ordering anything from Ray's store and so I opened up the small, padded envelope and I got a surprise...a signed copy of Ray's CD!! I've never received anything like that before!!

Although I already have an order put in for it on AMAZON (a pre-order from late February), could you imagine the baffled emotions racing through my mind as I opened up the envelope to see not only the CD but a message from Ray, too.

The message was inside a smaller envelope the was shipped inside the padded envelope and it sat underneath the CD and it explained the reason for my being sent a copy of the CD.

In case you're wondering I listened to the CD once...and I'll be listening to it more before I post my thoughts about it. This particular copy of the CD is going to be put away later on because of the autograph on the front. The one that arrives from Amazon is going to be the one I'll have sitting around amongst my other CD's. The copy I ordered on Amazon was shipped out earlier this morning from a facility in North Carolina and so it should arrive here by the end of the week.