November 4, 2008

Ray on a losin' streak...

This 1973 album from Ray Stevens can be considered a lost album. It can also be considered rare...officially obscure is how I like to describe it.

Ray once remarked that this was the first album he recorded in a brand new studio that he called The Ray Stevens Sound Laboratory but unfortunately none of the singles issued from the album reached the charts in either pop or country, which was odd due to the fact that his singles were always finding spots on the country or pop charts with frequency...but not with this particular album.

The album features a hodgepodge of songs...several of them are clever, some of them are pleasant, and some of them are pointed and insightful. It's interesting to note that Ray covered pop and country music on this album. "Easy Loving" was a gigantic hit song for Freddie Hart and "Bye Bye Love" was a gigantic hit for The Everly Brothers. The arrangement is mid-tempo for "Easy Loving" while the famous up-tempo of "Bye Bye Love" in Ray's hands is turned into a bluesy ballad.

I like the picture of Ray on the album cover...looking as if he's rocking out on his piano and I also like the album, too...other songs on the album: "Inside" is one of the insightful songs I made reference to earlier. Lyrically it sounds like it should have been on either of his 1970 albums Everything Is Beautiful and Unreal because of the subject matter at hand with lyrics such as "...time to stop all the falsifying...time to cast out the hypocritical way of life...". A straight forward love ballad, "Being Friends", is in the pleasant category. It's basically a song about a pair of friends who aren't quite lovers yet but are on their way if they remain being friends. It's a nice song.

On the opposite side of the coin is "Idaho Wine", my favorite song on the album. This song deals with a couple who are wrong for each other but find out after a non-disclosed amount of time. "Seems like a crime after all of this time" Ray sings "we're like California potatoes...and Idaho Wine...".

Ray's rocking out appearance on the album cover, complete with dark beard, makes me think he's suppose to be singing the title track, "Losin' Streak", or the funky "This Is Your Life". Either song finds Ray in a rocking mood...the title track takes place in Las Vegas. It's about a man who has a gambling problem but continues to think he's going to clean out Vegas at some point...telling his wife not to worry because he knows his bad luck has changed. It's a departure from what you'd typically hear from Ray Stevens and I think that's probably why he recorded the song and titled the album after it AND included this song, "This Is Your Life", which he himself wrote but he performs it very out of character if that's the proper way to put it...not what you'd expect to hear...lots of heavy rock instrumentation and vocals...the chorus of the song is the loudest, though.

"Laid Back" in an instrumental. Another song in the pleasant category is "Things Work Out". An intellectual song finds it's way on here, "What Do You Know?". Ray re-recorded one of his earlier songs for this album and included new lyrics in places and made it into almost an entirely new song by doing so. "Just One Of Life's Little Tragedies" is the love ballad I am referring to and it's about a man whose girlfriend breaks up with him and he tries to rationalize things as a result. Ray wrote five of the 11 songs. He wrote "Just One Of Life's Little Tragedies", "Inside", "Laid Back", "This Is Your Life", and "What Do You Know?". Layng Martine, Jr wrote "Being Friends" and "Idaho Wine". Felice and Boudleaux Bryant wrote "Bye Bye Love". Tupper Saussy wrote "Things Work Out" while Freddie Hart wrote "Easy Loving" and Nick Van Maarth wrote the title track, "Losin' Streak".

1. Losin' Streak
2. Just One Of Life's Little Tragedies
3. Inside
4. Things Work Out
5. Bye Bye Love
6. Being Friends
7. Idaho Wine
8. This Is Your Life
9. Laid Back
10. Easy Lovin'
11. What Do You Know

1 comment:

  1. I sincerely wish this LP would be released on CD and itunes. It may be his best overall album that is not novelty tracks. Tracks 1, 4, 7 and 11 are outstanding songs.


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