November 2, 2008

When I'm Calling You-ou-ou-ou....

Photobucket Released by Ray Stevens as a commercial single in 1975, this cover of a pop standard appeared originally on his Misty album. The single wasn't a 'smash hit' but it did decent on the country music charts that year, reaching the Top-40.

The song "Indian Love Call" goes way back to the early 1920's when it was part of an operetta called, Rose Marie. The song has been recorded by numerous artists through the years, both local talents and national talents, but the version that most in a specific age bracket will recall is the 1952 recording by Slim Whitman. That particular recording was a huge pop hit. The songwriters are Rudolf Friml, Otto Harbach, and Oscar Hammerstein, II.

Ray Stevens recorded his take on the song in 1975 and did very different arrangement than originally heard. I suppose one of the unwritten rules in pop music or country music, music in general, is whenever an artist decides to cover a song, to always perform a song exactly the way the original sounded? In some cases, songs that are so well known it's almost impossible to find a new arrangement that'll add something different to the recording. In the pre-rock days of pop music, artists would almost always record everyone else's songs. As soon as a songwriter wrote a song, it got sent through the publishing houses, and before long an artist would perform the song...then another artist would perform the same song...then another, and another...often in the span of one calendar year. The thing was, the only difference a lot of times between a Sinatra performance and a Crosby performance of the same song was that one version featured Sinatra singing and the other had Crosby singing...the arrangements/melodies were the same.

Ray liked to dabble and play around with songs...a lot. If a song was popular up-tempo, Ray would cover it as a ballad...and the other way around...a popular ballad may be turned into a mid-tempo or up-tempo performance. This performance of "Indian Love Call" demonstrates Ray's ability to blend R&B/doo-wop and straight pop into one performance. I would imagine the purists who prefer "Indian Love Call" not be dabbled with and prefer it always sung the way Slim Whitman recorded it, I suppose that segment would consider it tasteless if one were to tweak with the song's melody. It's hard to tell.

There was no denying that Ray had a hit on his hands, though. The single reached the Top-40 on the country chart in 1975 as the follow-up to his previous hit, "Misty". On the pop chart it reached the Top-65. The picture at the top of this entry is of a songbook that was released as a promo item. I do not know where the picture was taken but I have a guess that it was in Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee or it could have been taken in Ray's back-yard for all we know.

Also, there is a picture of Ray in the woods on the cover of a compilation LP called The Very Best of Ray Stevens issued on Barnaby the same year. So my guess is the pictures were taken at his house or maybe a local park somewhere.

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