October 28, 2011

Ray Stevens...Bozo's Back Again...

Good Friday morning! I checked the mail this morning and the CD that I ordered last Friday had arrived. Actually, though, I never checked mail on Thursday and so it arrived yesterday. The CD in question is Bozo's Back Again from Ray Stevens. It consists of 12 tracks...one of the songs, "Priceless", has never been available before. The song is about the little things in life, their costs, and life's excesses and their costs, but Ray tells us that there's one thing out there that's "Priceless". Now, going into it, I knew that the songs on here were re-recordings of past songs that Ray had done...on his web-page he mentions that these are some of the best songs you've never heard. His statement is accurate in terms of general audience...the dedicated fans are familiar with these songs...but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment one gets listening to the songs. I loved each of the songs...I grinned a lot while listening to them. The songs marked with a double asterisk were written by Ray Stevens.

1. Bozo's Back Again (Ray and Buddy)
2. Priceless**
3. Just For The Hell Of It**
4. Oh, Leo Lady**
5. Game Show Love**
6. Another Fine Mess (Ray and Buddy)
7. My Dad (Dale Gonyea)
8. Me**
9. Kings and Queens**
10. Dixie Hummingbird**
11. Written Down In My Heart (W.T. Davidson)
12. Ruby Falls (Buddy Kalb)

One of the things that stands out is that all of the songs...each and every one of them...are non-comical. Also, given that a majority of the re-recorded songs on here cover material from the early '80s, there's not that big of a difference in the vocalizations. As we all know Ray's earliest recordings featured a somewhat deeper vocalization (specifically the late '60s and into the early '70s) and by the late '70s onward his voice become smoother. Since this CD contains songs from Ray's past it's not a big surprise to the dedicated fans that he's the writer/co-writer on a lot of the songs. I love that several of the songs from his obscure, under-rated, and tragically ignored 1983 album, Me, are spotlighted on here. Ray gives us "Me", "Game Show Love", "Kings and Queens", and a stellar re-recording of the emotionally charged "My Dad"...all four of those songs originated on that 1983 album. Admittedly I don't own the soundtrack to the Cannonball Run movie so I don't know if there's a longer version of "Just For The Hell Of It" on that soundtrack or not...but I'm familiar with the recording that played in the movie. This re-recording features an opening verse that wasn't heard in the movie version and so I was surprised to hear this additional part of the song.

Much of the songs written on Bozo's Back Again, as I mentioned, originated from Ray Stevens himself. On several of the songs his long-time songwriting partner, Buddy Kalb, is credited as one of the writers. The clever final track, "Ruby Falls", was written by Buddy. Although the general public may not know who Buddy Kalb is he's no stranger to a lot of the fans of Ray Stevens. His name has appeared as many times as Ray's in the songwriter credits...much of Ray's songs during the last 25+ years were either written by Buddy, written by Buddy and his wife Carlene, or written by Ray and Buddy...and yes, there's even been a few songs where Ray, Buddy, and Carlene are the credited writers. In the songwriter credits his name appears more formally as C.W. Kalb, Jr. but almost everyone refers to him as Buddy.

A few days ago I was alerted to the release of 3 CD's from Buddy...he's recorded 3 CD's of self-written songs...quite a lot of the songs were recorded at various points in time by Ray Stevens but the recordings on the CD's will be of Buddy himself. Also, there are many songs that have never been recorded by Ray featured on the CD's. The curious who want to take a look at the material can click the following Buddy Kalb CD's and be taken to the page that displays the 3 CD's. You'll need to click the More Info button to see the song titles.

As mentioned, quite a lot of the titles will be familiar to Ray Stevens fans. The one who alerted me to the CD's is the same one who interviewed Buddy recently. I've posted a link to the interview before but here it is again... Jeremy Roberts interviews Buddy Kalb.

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