August 24, 2010

Listen with Me to Ray Stevens on WB...

Never mind the title of this blog. I was attempting to create something that would rhyme as I write about Ray Stevens' Warner Brothers material of the late 1970's. Well, part of the blog title is a wish of mine...I do hope people out there seek out the Ray Stevens music that I write about. This blog is no the picture I'm holding the 1995 collections that Warner Brothers issued giving long overdue spotlight to the material he recorded for them. The 1995 collections were not widely distributed, ironically enough...they were available in cassette and CD format originally. Cornball, Do You Wanna Dance, and The Serious Side of Ray Stevens are the names of the collections. Two of the collections feature ten recordings while one of them features nine. All of the songs were compiled by someone named Paige Levy...meaning that she was responsible for the material that made or didn't make the collections. All in all it's a great overview of his Warner Brothers material and, of course, there's quite a few recordings not found on the collections. As of now the vinyl albums are the only places to get what's not included on these three compilations.

The material on these three collections are picked from the following late '70s Ray Stevens albums: 1976's Just For the Record; 1977's Feel the Music; 1978's Be Your Own Best Friend; and 1978's There Is Something On Your Mind. Ray's 1979 album, The Feeling's Not Right Again, was a compilation album built around his only single that year, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow".

As I've mentioned in other blogs the material Ray recorded for Warner Brothers would be categorized today as smooth pop or easy-listening...even though at the time several of the singles were hitting the country music charts. The sound of the majority of singles marketed to country radio at this time were heavy on pop instrumentation. This pop flavor inspired the creation of the television show, Pop! Goes the Country.

Cornball was the first collection issued. It's catalog number is 9 45890-4. In spite of the CD's title, there are only three recordings on here that could be classified as comedy songs...the other seven songs are love ballads. It featured the following songs:

1. In the Mood; 1976
2. I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow; 1979
3. You Are So Beautiful; 1976
4. Money Honey; 1978
5. Cornball; 1976
6. Dixie Hummingbird; 1977
7. One Mint Julep; 1978
8. Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash; 1978
9. Save Me From Myself; 1977
10. Classical Cluck; 1976

The Serious Side of Ray Stevens came along second. It's catalog number is 9 45891-4 and it featured the following songs:

1. One and Only You; 1976
2. Talk To Me; 1978
3. Alone With You; 1977
4. Daydream Romance; 1977
5. Once in a While; 1976
6. Set The Children Free; 1977
7. The Feeling's Not Right Again; 1978
8. Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right; 1978
9. L'amour; 1978
10. Be Your Own Best Friend; 1978

Do You Wanna Dance was the third collection to be released in 1995. It's catalog number is 9 45892-4 and it features the following nine songs:

1. Feel the Music; 1977
2. Dance Trilogy; 1978
3. Blues Love Affair; 1977
4. Country Licks; 1976
5. Honky Tonk Waltz; 1976
6. One Man Band; 1976
7. Can't Stop Dancin; 1976
8. Old Faithful Trilogy; 1978
9. You've Got the Music Inside; 1978

In the credits for the material contained on all three collections the compiler indicates that quite a few of the songs are "previously unreleased". She makes note of this on all of the songs from Ray's There Is Something On Your Mind album. For whatever reason she didn't give credit to that particular album...she credited the other albums but not that one. I've never found out why.

In contemporary news...the latest Ray Stevens video hit, "God Save Arizona", is available for digital download at Amazon. The availability of the Mp3 began on August 12...yes...12 days ago!! Why didn't I know about this? The answer is simple...Amazon doesn't have the song listed among Ray's Mp3 singles which is where I'd been checking daily. Instead, Amazon has the digital single listed as an Mp3 album...even though it's a single!! reiterate...the "God Save Arizona" song is also available at Amazon and at Ray Stevens' web-site store. The music video has gotten 120,604 hits on You Tube so far.

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