October 17, 2010

Let's Discuss Ray Stevens, Part Fifteen...

"Where Do My Socks Go?" asked Ray Stevens in 1990. Previously I had written a blog about going to the laundry with Ray Stevens and I delivered my thoughts on that comedy song...a song that almost everyone can relate to....where upon emptying a dryer there always seems to be a sock or two that goes missing because of how they slip up inside pants or shirts. In Ray's song, written by Buddy Kalb, socks literally disappear! The whimsical song is part of Lend Me Your Ears, the debut studio album by Ray Stevens on the Curb label. Technically the label was Curb/Capitol Nashville. Ray's official debut on Curb happened in June of 1990 when the label issued His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits which has since been certified Gold. An interesting trivia note is during 1990 and 1991 Curb Records on their own issued two compilation CD's on Ray Stevens...the aforementioned His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits in 1990 and Greatest Hits in 1991 while during those same years, paired with Capitol Nashville, they issued two studio albums on Ray: Lend Me Your Ears and in 1991, #1 With a Bullet.

In 1993 Curb Records issued the studio album of new songs from Ray entitled Classic Ray Stevens...in 1995 the label issued a belated soundtrack to his 1993 home video, Ray Stevens Live!. Additionally in 1995 they issued a compilation entitled 20 Comedy Hits which was exclusive to CD. In 1996 they issued Great Gospel Songs which contains 13 songs with a gospel/inspirational overtone. In a lot of ways the collection is a re-issue of his 1972 album, Turn Your Radio On, with a slightly altered track list and two additional songs. After a brief return to MCA late in 1996, which culminated in 1998, Ray was without a major label to call home for the first time in years. This all changed late in 2001 with the release of "Osama Yo' Mama". Curb Records agreed to promote/publicize the future best-selling single and in early 2002 a CD of the same name also became a big hit. The single ranked as one of the Top-10 sales hits of the year...remaining on the Country Single Sales chart for more than 30 weeks while the CD reached the country Top-30.

There was a limited release CD single with "United We Stand" as the b-side...I say limited because I never saw it for sale in the record stores in my area. The CD single was sold with an identical picture sleeve...the only difference being underneath his name it shown the words The Single instead of The Album. Believe it or not there was a music critic who was greatly misinformed and in a write-up of the CD erroneously referred to the title as being called The Album. Now, of course, the actual name of the CD is Osama Yo' Mama: The Album to differentiate it from the single with the same picture sleeve. I believe it was a writer at Country Weekly that referred to the CD as The Album instead of it's actual title. A critic at All Music Guide gave the CD a paltry two and a half out of five stars. In the criticism the writer made the assertion that nobody would be paying attention to this CD if it weren't for the title track. After I read that line I thought to myself "No kidding!?!? Gee, thanks for telling us! ". His fans would be paying attention, though, but as I touched upon in a previous blog the media had stopped paying attention long ago so the critic was right in some aspects of his assertion.

The CD was specifically designed to grab attention so what better way to grab attention than by naming a CD after a terrorist!! Also, the single itself was designed to grab your attention so what better way than call the single "Osama Yo' Mama". The music video was also eye-catching and hilarious. Ray Stevens is known for his comical productions and so it really looks rather odd to criticize an artist for doing what he's well known for. In my way of thinking, criticizing Ray Stevens for singing comedy songs is like criticizing a magician for sawing someone in half.

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