Given the political/patriotic direction of Ray Stevens' latest music releases I thought I'd highlight some of Ray's material from 1973...this being the date in 1973 of the 'Saturday night massacre' where Nixon fired an independent special prosecutor on the same day both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General resigned from office. All of this chaos stemmed from the aftermath of the Watergate break-in and the ensuing scandal. I wish the current Attorney General would resign!!
Anyway...I hardly ever keep track of things like that but I happened to be listening to a radio program on my way home from work this morning and that was one of the headlines in a "this date in history" segment.
So, what was Ray Stevens up to in 1973? Well, he released two albums that year which was something of the norm for most singers during this time period. Most artists released a single and if it became a hit then an album would be released built around the hit single...often times the hit single would end up being the only song issued commercially from an entire 11 or 12 song album. Some artists, though, had a bit more freedom in the studio and some labels, I assume, didn't particularly care if a single was a big radio hit or not provided that the artist was profitable and was consistent in sales...and sales could be obtained then, much like today, through television exposure and personal appearances. As I often say: don't let chart statistics fool you. In the subjective nature of the music industry even those acts who sell strong each release are at the mercy of a radio programmer or a consultant who analyzes demographics down to the very decimal point. I'm exaggerating...but maybe I'm not....
The bottom line is Ray Stevens' chart placings through the years belie his true popularity. It's always been the case of contrasts and public reception. Although Ray wanted to be thought of as a serious artist his comical recordings were too irresistible and catchy and for a period of several years he was "trapped" as a singer of comedy songs in the early and mid '60s in spite of routinely releasing love ballads and non-comical singles. The public wanted the comedy and so Ray would give it to them...meanwhile Top-40 radio by the late '60s had all but stopped playing novelty songs with the exceptions being those from Ray Stevens and Roger Miller, to name just two. Then by the late '70s novelty songs had really all but disappeared on commercial radio...leaving artists known for humorous recordings without much of a mainstream outlet.
Fortunately Ray Stevens, like Roger Miller, was a skilled writer and singer of both comedy and serious material...and while Ray had been able to have mainstream success as a serious artist throughout much of the '70s and early '80s it would be the comical recordings that would continue to gain the most attention...and given the fact that Ray's novelty songs weren't being played much on mainstream radio, although the songs were selling, the lack of airplay was reflected on the weekly charts. So, as I started out saying, Ray's chart placings belie his true popularity due to radio not willing to play comical songs anymore. Now that I got all of that off my chest...
The two albums that Ray released in 1973 were Losin' Streak and Nashville. Each album is totally different from one another and much of Ray's talent with mixing various music genres and covering well-known songs and delivering them in a brand new way is on full display on both albums. The image you see here is a B-side entitled "Inside". The song's A-side is "Losin' Streak" which didn't reach the charts. In spite of the single not reaching the charts there was an album of the same name issued which featured those two songs in addition to several experimental songs...by experimental I mean the sound and recording techniques. The album was recorded in a studio that Ray billed as The Ray Stevens Sound Laboratory. Ray covers "Bye Bye Love" and "Easy Loving" on the Losin' Streak album and some of those experimental sounds can be heard on "This Is Your Life" as well as "What Do You Know?".
The second album released in 1973 is the more commercially successful by comparison. Nashville features a much more country edge, which for 1973, meant pop-country. The title track, "Nashville", became a Top-40 country hit in November of 1973. It's B-side was the bouncy "Golden Age", a song about reaching the golden years in life. A second single from the album, "Love Me Longer", didn't reach the charts but the song was great nonetheless. It's B-side was the instrumental, "Float". Some of the other tracks include "Undivided Attention", the clever "Nobody's Fool", the marvelous "Never Ending Song of Love", and the ballad "You've Got the Music Inside". In the image, Ray is peeking from behind a tree trunk. You can't really see the tree very good in the picture but part of it is there. There are several other images of Ray floating around on-line of him posing near a funny looking tree. This particular image happens to be sheet music of "Nashville". Very rarely is sheet music on display...you may find them in musical instrument stores or in specialty shops but you typically aren't going to find sheet music on display at your local Wal*Mart store's music section.