November 10, 2008

Comedy Curb...Part One...

Ray Stevens joined the Curb Records label in 1990 and this decade shown Ray's career explode in an entirely different direction. The first year at Curb hinted at things to come as Ray introduced two music videos...promoting the his debut album on Curb in 1990: Lend Me Your Ears. The two music videos were "Sittin' Up With the Dead" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night". Ray had previously only produced one music video and that was for "Santa Claus Is Watching You"...but with this 1990 album two music video's emerged. Also on Lend Me Your Ears there was a very funny spoof of Stanley and Livingstone, "This Ain't Exactly What I Had In Mind" and an insane recording about a man obsessed with "Barbeque". Ray re-visits the jungle theme on the song "Bwana and the Jungle Girl" about a couple who pretend they're Tarzan and Jane when their kids are away. Curb Records had also released a compilation album in 1990 called His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits and that collection eventually became a Gold record. It continued to show that Ray's biggest and best-known songs were still selling even in the 1990's.

History Lesson: Ray is dressed up as Julius Caesar on the cover of Lend Me Your Ears from 1990. I do not have the picture of His All-Time Greatest Hits posted but on that cover he appears in character calling Margaret, referring to the 1984 hit song "It's Me Again, Margaret".

In 1991, Curb issued two more albums on Ray. One was the compilation Greatest Hits which featured a new recording of "There's A Star Spangled Banner", a song he originally recorded in 1989. This hits collection also favored more serious material, too, with eight of the ten songs being serious non-comedy recordings. The two comedy recordings included were 1969's "Along Came Jones" and 1987's "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?". The picture on the cover was often used as a publicity picture throughout the 1990's. The other 1991 album was the all-comedy #1 With a Bullet which featured Ray on the cover holding up a big bullet, wearing a bright yellow Cat hat, and looking quite comical striking a rapper/hip-hop pose...intentionally or un-intentionally...with his hat turned to the side on his head. This 1991 album featured a lot of strange, bizarre comedy songs...something his albums had gotten away from during the last part of the 1980's. "Tabloid News", "Power Tools", and "You Gotta Have a Hat" featured topical humor delivered in a silly way. For those curious, "You Gotta Have a Hat" is a song about country music's fascination with cowboy hats and how a lot of the newer male artists were all wearing much so that the media nick-named the singers The Hat Acts.

"Workin' For the Japanese" was a satirical look at global economics, one of the more in your face recordings associated with Ray over the years. "Juanita and the Kids" was later pulled from this album and made into a music video. Ray often performed this song around income tax time as it has to do with the IRS. "Shiek of R&B" could be described as a salute to Ray's early R&B/blues influences, blending it with Arabian culture. The title was no doubt derived from the movie Shiek of Arabee. 1991 was the year Ray opened up his theatre in Branson, Missouri. This theatre became one of the most sold-out and it also provided Ray with a place where the fans traveled to see him.

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