August 7, 2011

Revisiting Ray Stevens, Part 5...

In the career of Ray Stevens 1979 is highlighted by one song in particular...a satirical spoof entitled "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". What you see is half of the lengths that the publicity department went to in their promotional campaign of Ray's song. The other half of the promotional campaign would feature an album on Ray in which the cover of the album would be another spoof of a Manilow release. The single was written by Dale Gonyea and it became a Top-50 pop hit in 1979 but it reached the Top-15 on the Adult-Contemporary lists. This is important to point out because the Adult-Contemporary format is where Barry was the airplay king...having a solid string of virtually uninterrupted Top-5 hits dating back to early 1975. Manilow's streak of Top-20 successes would continue on AC radio through 1986 but Ray's single came at a time (1979) when Manilow was reaching his peak on Top-40 pop radio even though he still had nearly 8 more years of AC success ahead of him. That's why it's so ironic that Ray's spoof of Manilow hit bigger on AC radio than on pop'd think the format that wasn't playing Manilow as much (pop) would've had a field day with "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" but instead the exact opposite occurred: favorable AC radio played the Manilow spoof.

The hit single spawned the album I earlier mentioned...the album was a compilation project built to support Ray's unexpected hit single. That album, The Feeling's Not Right Again, mocks the album design of Manilow's 1975 release, Tryin' To Get The Feeling. This 1979 single and the chicken clucking "In The Mood" from late 1976/early 1977 are the two recordings that Ray Stevens did for Warner Brothers that often get included on compilation projects. He had more hits for Warner Brothers than just those two releases but given that those two are in the comical/novelty vein probably explains why compilers single out those two recordings in particular. Most compilers like to spotlight his comical recordings more than the non-comical...but then again, some projects feature more non-comical selections than all depends, I guess, on which record company is putting the collections together and which audience they're aiming to attract.

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