November 19, 2010

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 16...

I decided to shine the light on these collections once again. Collectables Records, in 2005, issued 6 vintage Ray Stevens vinyl albums onto CD format. Even today there are some out there who aren't aware that these collections exist and so I like to highlight them from time to time. This particular release features the two 1970 Ray Stevens albums Everything Is Beautiful and Unreal. I've posted the front of the CD's before and so for a change of pace I decided to post what the back of the CD's look like. The picture of Ray seated at the piano comes from the back of the Unreal album while inside the fold-out cover there's a picture of Ray and Andy Williams which comes from the back of the Everything Is Beautiful album. Actually, the picture of Ray on the back of the CD is a computer generated reversal of the way he appears on the back of the Unreal LP. Also, the audience seated around the piano in the original picture is cropped out. Originally the picture was taken during a performance on Andy Williams' television show. In the fold-out cover you'll be able to see what appeared on the back of each original LP.

Meanwhile...there is some commentary floating around on-line surrounding these CD releases...I consider the commentary from some of the other consumers to be petty because the general public isn't going to care about the kind of detail that some of the consumers go into detail about. I'm not saying everyone's opinion is petty but there are quite a few who go into detail about stereo verses mono and go out of their way to mention that there's vinyl detection heard in a song or two, etc etc. All I ask is the sound quality be clear and my way of thinking bad sound quality is when a song sounds as if the singer is singing with a piece of cardboard over the microphone and the words sound muffled and unintelligible. Believe me...if I felt the sound quality of these CD's was as bad as some would have you believe I'd be the first to warn people. Nowhere on these collections is there a proclamation that the music is digitally remastered and so if you go into it thinking you're going to hear music that's crystal clean as if it was recorded today you'll obviously be disappointed. The bulk of the songs up until the time of the 2005 release had never been issued in CD format before and so there's going to be traces of vinyl origination.

This particular CD features the 1972 release, Turn Your Radio On, along side the Misty release of 1975. The only studio album that Ray recorded for Barnaby Records to not get re-issued on CD in 2005 is 1973's Losin' Streak. It's a mystery as to why the 1973 album was over-looked but in previous blog entries that I've written I've come to the conclusion that Collectables Records simply wanted a nice, even number...and with three CD releases that comes out to six LP's altogether. A seventh LP is the "odd man out". Excluding compilation releases, Barnaby issued seven albums on Ray Stevens between 1970 and 1975. The label would issue a couple of compilation projects on Ray during the same time period. One of the things that doesn't get a lot of coverage is that Barnaby Records was able to purchase the rights to the Monument recordings of Ray Stevens. This is why on the compilation albums that Barnaby and it's subsidiaries issued you'd find recordings that originated on the Monument label.

In this CD release we have the 1973 Nashville album and 1974's Boogity-Boogity. This was the third and final 2-LP on 1-CD release. It's catalog number is COL-CD-7688. Turn Your Radio On / Misty has a catalog number of COL-CD-7687. Everything Is Beautiful / Unreal has a catalog number of COL-CD-7686. One of the criticisms of these CD's, in addition to the intellectual debate over sound quality, is that the songs don't appear in the same order as they did on the LP's. As far as Nashville and Boogity-Boogity are concerned the tracks appear on the CD in the same order as they did on the LP. The other two CD releases all feature randomly placed songs out of order with their LP counterparts. For example...the LP version of Unreal opens up with "Sunset Strip" while the 2005 CD version opens up with "America, Communicate With Me". On the LP, "Talking" and "Islands" are the final two tracks. On the 2005 CD "Islands" is the 6th song while "Talking" is the 10th song among the Unreal selections. So, yeah, when it comes to the songs on four of the albums not being in the same sequence as they appear on the LP I can understand that kind of a criticism...but it shouldn't take away from the fact that the material is at long last available on CD and Mp3 format. "Losin' Streak", from 1973, still needs to get the CD re-issue treatment though!

I've since uploaded all of the songs onto my on-line music program and rarely play the physical CD's anymore...but as a collector of Ray Stevens items I won't discard the physical CD's that I own. Here is a list of the seven studio albums Ray recorded for Barnaby Records:

1. Everything Is Beautiful; 1970
2. Unreal; 1970
3. Turn Your Radio On; 1972
4. Nashville; 1973
5. Losin' Streak; 1973
6. Boogity-Boogity; 1974
7. Misty; 1975

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