Hallelujah!! It's time to write about the Great Gospel Songs, a collection that was issued nearly 14 years ago this month. The exact date was January 9, 1996...so we're a day shy. The collection was released on Curb Records which became involved with Ray in 1990 and throughout the decade and into the next Curb often distributed Ray Stevens material. In fact, except for the latter half of 1996 through early 1998 when Ray was signed with MCA Records, Curb Records was the main record label that distributed material to shopping stores. Ray's 2002 release, Osama Yo' Mama, was on the Curb label. Curb is the label that released the various music video DVD collections to stores this past decade. The fans of Ray Stevens know what I'm referring to because the DVD's availability wasn't widely promoted...available mostly through mail-order. 2004's The Complete Comedy Video Collection DVD as well as two separate DVD collections of animated cartoon music videos titled Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens and Gourmet Restaurant, were distributed by Curb Records in 2006.
Great Gospel Songs on the other hand came along in 1996 as a re-introduction, of sorts, of Ray's gospel recordings of the early '70s. In a lot of ways it was basically a re-issue of his 1972 gospel album, Turn Your Radio On, with different song sequence and the addition of two songs not included on the original release. The gospel album has since been re-issued on CD/MP3. This happened in 2005 as part of a two album on one CD release. The album is paired with his 1975 album, Misty, on the special release CD. The track list for the 1996 collection includes the following...
1. I'll Fly Away
2. Love Lifted Me
3. Have a Little Talk With Myself; 1969
4. Turn Your Radio On
5. Will There Be Any Stars?
6. Why Don't You Lead Me To That Rock?
7. Glory Special
8. A Brighter Day; 1970
9. Let Our Love Be a Light Unto the People
10. A Mama and a Papa
11. All My Trials
12. Yes, Jesus Loves Me
13. Everything is Beautiful; 1970
The two songs from 1970 weren't featured on the original release of Turn Your Radio On in 1972 but are both in the religious/inspirational vein that their inclusion is appropriate. As far as statistics go, this 1996 collection boasts five hit singles:
"Have a Little Talk With Myself" hit the country music Top-70.
"Everything Is Beautiful" hit #1 on the pop chart, #1 on the Adult-Contemporary chart, Top-40 on the country chart, and won a Grammy.
"Turn Your Radio On" hit the country Top-20, the Top-65 on the pop chart, and the Top-30 on the Adult-Contemporary chart.
"All My Trials" hit the Top-70 on the pop chart and the Top-10 on the Adult-Contemporary chart.
"A Mama and a Papa" hit the Adult-Contemporary Top-10 and the Top-85 on the pop chart.