May 25, 2010

Ray Stevens...The Collection

In this Collection of songs we get to hear a wide variety of styles and moods from the career of Ray Stevens. The project features 14 songs and is notable for including a few songs that have rarely gotten much exposure on the wide variety of compilation releases that have been issued on Ray Stevens through the years. This release, from February 1993, features 8 recordings from the mid-late 1980's in addition to 6 recordings from what critics consider Ray's classic period. "Shriner's Convention", which takes place in Hahria, Georgia, was a huge hit for Ray in early 1980. There were two different recordings of the song floating around during this era. One version shows a 1979 copyright and another shows a 1980 copyright. The recording featured in this Collection is from 1979...considered to be perhaps the "single version" while other compilations feature a more mid-tempo recording of the song.

Track three, "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", takes place in Pascagoula, Mississippi. This recording debuted on the 1984 album, He Thinks He's Ray Stevens, but it didn't reach a wide audience until the spring of 1985. This song is notable for being the final recording of Ray's to reach the radio-dominated "Top-40" portion of the country music chart. It would ultimately reach the Top-20.

"Surfin' USSR" and "I Saw Elvis In a UFO" were recorded in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Their inclusion in this Collection represented a willingness on MCA's part to highlight fan popular, though mainstream obscure, recordings. "I Saw Elvis in a UFO" was a regular feature throughout Ray's concerts in Branson, Missouri in the early '90s. He once performed the song at the 1989 edition of the Music City News awards program...and this may have been the debut of the U.F.O. prop. The stage performance of the song played out like a music video...and given how popular Ray's music videos are you'd think that he would have made an official music video of this song but he never has.

The 14 songs on this Collection are...

1. The Streak; 1974
2. Shriner's Convention; 1980
3. Mississippi Squirrel Revival; 1984
4. Gitarzan; 1969
5. Ahab the Arab; 1969 (re-recording)
6. It's Me Again, Margaret; 1984
7. Santa Claus Is Watching You; 1985
8. The Blue Cyclone; 1985
9. Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?; 1987
10. Freddy Feelgood; 1966
11. Surfin' USSR; 1988
12. I Saw Elvis in a UFO; 1989
13. The Haircut Song; 1985
14. Everything is Beautiful; 1970

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