Revisiting a familiar topic of 45 singles causes me to post images of Ray Stevens singles in no particular order. Some singles are what is known as "promo singles" meaning that at the time of release they were available only at radio stations. Currently these promo singles are available all over eBay, the premiere on-line marketplace. Collectors usually place high value on promo singles due to their rare nature and the fact that the promo single wasn't part of the public domain. One of the distinct characteristics of a promo single verses a commercial single is the label color. Usually a promo single had white paper and the commercial single would have the official design. MCA, for example, their official label was blue with a rainbow design behind the song's title as you see below on 1984's "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" but their promo label was white, as you see on 1985's "The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone". In the case of that song, the single I chose to spotlight here is a color vinyl. Those are considered to be even more sought-after because of their extreme obscureness.
"Mississippi Squirrel Revival" as I wrote about several months ago is in it's Silver Anniversary...it was recorded 25 years ago back in 1984. The single hit the Top-20 on the country charts and became one of his most popular that decade. A 1992 music video of the song has since become a staple on-line. For those who still don't know what the song is about it's about a squirrel who runs loose inside a church after it was snuck in by a couple of kids. The squirrel's antics are credited with causing miracles because once the squirrel runs afoul of Harv Newland and Sister Bertha, the two confess their sins amidst the pain. The melody is catchy as it conveys an old-time Dixieland-southern feeling...which is appropriate given that the song takes place in the south where one of the kid's grandmother lives in an Antebellum world.
"Glory Special" is a gospel song from Ray's 1974 gospel album, Turn Your Radio On. It's the b-side of "Love Lifted Me", which didn't make the country or pop music charts. You can click the image for a bigger view. Ray's gospel album was re-issued on CD, paired with the album, Misty, in 2005. "Glory Special" is one of my favorites from his gospel album...it uses the imagery of a train. Ray vocally mimics the train...there isn't a train whistle in the tradition of Boxcar Willie; instead, we have Ray using various harmonies over-dubbing moans and hums to create the sound of the train gaining momentum...other vocal sound effects include the exhaust and the calls from the conductor.
This single comes from 1989...it's a promo copy of "I Saw Elvis In A UFO". The song was a take-off on all of the Elvis sightings that routinely show up on tabloids then and still do today. In this song Elvis not only is alive but is seeing the sights of outer space with the likes of Jimmy Hoffa, Col Tom Parker, Howard Hughes, and Liberace. The song comes from the album, Beside Myself, which is 20 years old this year. Ray has never made a music video of this song, believe it or not, but he's performed the song on his Platinum selling Ray Stevens Live home video. In the performance a large UFO hovers above him as he's decked out in Elvis attire. Pink aliens show up mid-way through the song. This performance at his theater could serve as an unofficial music video.