July 7, 2009

Ray Stevens: Compilation upon Compilation

Photobucket This is one of the compilation albums that Mercury Records released. It's simply called Ahab the Arab although it's the same exact compilation as Funny Man featuring the exact same cover and the exact same songs in the exact same order. Compilation upon compilation have been released through the years. In recent years, though, there's been a drop in the amount of compilation albums that have been released. In the 1980's and 1990's there were a slew of hits collections and best-of collections on the market. I touched upon the abundance of compilation albums in some of my earlier blogs. Since the dawn of this decade there hasn't been as many compilation CD's and I don't know if that's because the labels have run out of idea's of how to package the songs or if Ray himself has figured out a way to put a stop to the compilation releases. In a magazine interview in the early 1990's a reporter half-jokingly mentioned that there were perhaps at least 60 compilation albums released on Ray through the years.

The songs on both of these albums are:

1. Ahab the Arab
2. Furthermore
3. Funny Man
4. The Deodorant Song
5. Harry the Hairy Ape
6. Just One of Life's Little Tragedies
7. Speed Ball
8. Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer


Some of the compilation albums were official releases...but over half of them were released by independent labels or former labels that Ray recorded material for. Throughout it all, two labels have been stingy with their Ray material and those two labels are Warner Brothers and RCA. The studio albums he recorded on both labels from 1976-1982 have yet to surface in complete form in either CD or MP3. There was a 3-CD collection of Warner Brothers material issued in 1995 but it was in limited quantity. The RCA material hasn't really been showcased at all except for a 1985 compilation called Collector's Series.

One of the best compilation projects during the 1990's was this one from Rhino Records simply called The Best of Ray Stevens. There was a 1970's craze going on in the mid to late '90s and this CD as you can see featured caricature drawings of Ray and his cast of comical characters. The CD has liner notes written by Doctor Demento plus a few pictures of Ray from all points in time. I've wore out my CD copy...it likes to skip, just like a worn out vinyl album. I've either worn the CD out or a glitch happened all of the sudden because it stops playing two-third's of the way...but it's a good project. It was released in 1997 during Ray's 40th anniversary as a recording artist.


A lot of the compilation albums feature a variety of album songs mixed in with the singles that were released commercially. I don't have an official total off the top of my head but Ray's charted close to 60 singles in his career, a combined total of singles that hit pop or country. Ray charted consistently on the Hot 100 pop chart throughout the late '60s on into the mid '70s but beginning in the early '70s onward more and more of his songs were hitting with the country audience that by 1980 he was a legitimate country star, no longer considered a pop cross-over, appearing on country music oriented programs and doing other things to endear himself to the country market.


The Feeling's Not Right Again, the album known as the Barry Manilow parody album, was in reality a compilation album. Warner Brothers put together an album to support the single, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". The songs on the album were pulled from his 1976, 1977, and 1978 albums. However, his second 1978 album, There Is Something On Your Mind, was over-looked. No songs from that album appeared on this one...

Earlier I mentioned that not many compilation albums have surfaced on Ray Stevens in recent years. One of the few was released by Collectible's Records. It was a box set featuring 4 CD's. The collection featured six albums on three CD's: Everything Is Beautiful, Unreal, Turn Your Radio On, Nashville, Boogity-Boogity, and Misty. Each of the three CD's featured two complete albums. A fourth CD, The Last Laugh, was a compilation project that repeated several songs that were found on the other three CD's in the collection. As you can see, the collection was called Only The Best of Ray Stevens.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Show your appreciation for the music of Ray Stevens...leave a comment...