November 13, 2011

Ray Stevens: Retrospective 24...

In Retrospective 24 we take a look at the year of 1987 in the career of Ray Stevens. This was the year that marked the 30th anniversary of Ray's earliest recordings in 1957. This was also the year that MCA Records issued not one, not two, not three, but four separate projects on Ray Stevens! Those four releases were: Greatest Hits, Crackin' Up, Greatest Hits Volume Two, and Get the Best of Ray Stevens. The year was marked by the success of "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?", a single from Ray Stevens that satirized televangelists and spoke to thousands upon thousands of people who experienced the scandals that were taking place at the time. A topical single it became a hit slowly...crossing over into the mainstream to such an extent that it was instrumental in garnering an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show in addition to write-up's from various newspaper columnists (Paul Harvey in particular). The song would get a Grammy nomination in 1988. It was written by Chet Atkins and Margaret Archer.

Ray, for a short period of time, did a series of animated music videos for several of his older songs. These video collections were released to retail stores by Curb Records in 2006. Each DVD features 5 music videos. Gourmet Restaurant is named for a song that Ray recorded in 1987 on the Crackin' Up album. Featured on that particular DVD, in addition to "Gourmet Restaurant", is "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty"...both songs come from the 1987 Crackin' Up album. Much of these animated videos have since been uploaded onto You Tube and you can see several of them when you visit Ray's You Tube channel, raystevensmusic, all one word. Crackin' Up features 10 comedy songs for those who don't yet own a copy: "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?", "Three Legged Man", "Cool Down, Willard", "I'm My Own Grandpaw", "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty", "Sex Symbols", "Gourmet Restaurant", "The Flies of Texas", "Doctor, Doctor Have Mercy On Me", and "The Day That Clancy Drowned".

Get The Best of Ray Stevens was an album advertised on television and in newspaper advertisements. Years before Ray sold millions of home videos in the 1990's this 2-LP collection was being sold on TV and the official commercial shown Ray singing snippets of the songs. Commercials like this used to appear frequently for albums released by Heartland Records, too. Unfortunately I only saw the commercial a couple of times and couldn't tell you much about it...except that Ray appeared in various suits and costumes much like in the commercial he did for Comedy Video Classics in 1992. The vinyl album in the picture opens up, like a reading book, to reveal the songs and credits. Each vinyl disc is housed in a separate sleeve. The collection basically combines both Greatest Hits releases (plus or minus a couple of songs).

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