November 12, 2011

Ray Stevens: Retrospective 25...

In this particular blog entry titled Retrospective 25 I'm spotlighting events that took place in the career of Ray Stevens in 1986...25 years ago.

What exactly was happening in the career of Ray Stevens in 1986? Well, for one thing, he was riding high on a wave of newly found popularity...a situation that just happened to be something of a recurring theme in his overall career. Every so often, while retaining his core fan base, he often becomes discovered by an entirely different audience...then, once they become enmeshed within his core fan base he's discovered by other people...on and on, down through history, this sort of ebb and flow effect has enabled Ray (in my opinion) to endure for decade upon decade in spite of the fact that music critic after music critic has long pronounced "the novelty song" a surefire way to kill a career rather than prolong it. 1986 is the year that Ray enjoyed his first and only #1 album...the album in question is I Have Returned and it wasn't an immediate chart success. Over the course of half a year, starting in the latter part of 1985 and into the spring of 1986 the album slowly climbed up the country album list week after week. It ultimately reached #1. A previous album (released late in 1984) reached the country Top-5 in early 1985. In the image above it's the cassette version of 1986's Surely You Joust.

Are there any other Ray Stevens fans out there who are overcome by giddiness, excitement, and full-blown euphoria after a vinyl album of Ray's arrives in the mail? How about having those same feelings if you come across a vinyl album of Ray's at a flea market? I'll expand this further by asking if any Ray Stevens fans have those feelings once they see the flip side of the album jacket...revealing imagery and, or, art work that is new to the eye. When the vinyl album arrived in the mail of Surely You Joust, Ray's 1986 album, I knew of the image beforehand but didn't know it come from the flip side of the album jacket. When I first saw the image of Ray hoisted in the air by a crane in a junkyard I assumed it was a rarely seen publicity picture for magazine or newspaper usage...little did I know that it's origins were from the actual vinyl album. The picture comes from January 4, 2008...a few weeks after it arrived in the mail from some on-line seller at eBay. I already had the cassette had been my grandfather's originally. He bought it new in 1986.

In the first image the cassette version shows three songs listed: "Southern Air", "Can He Love You Half as Much as I?", and "People's Court". The project was released at a time in country music where there were all sorts of clashes going on between various style trends. In times past country radio, as a whole, attempted to equally promote all the various sub-genres of country music within it's musical umbrella. In 1986 and moving forward country radio began to slowly remove certain styles of country music as well as artists of a certain age from the airwaves and replace them with brand new artists emerging on the country scene that tended to fit marketing strategies or a preferred sound. In addition to this country radio began to increase airplay exposure of acts that had been in the business a few years and had been overshadowed by long established acts.

As I'm sure most are aware, Ray Stevens has both a Facebook and Twitter page in addition to his official web-page. I, too, have a Twitter page but I rarely post personal thoughts there. I basically post links to Ray Stevens videos or news stories about Ray or I re-tweet messages from Ray's page. I sometimes provide links to any number of blogs that I've written or ones that I've come across by others.

I came across a blog today that mentioned the one you're reading now...

Unfortunately, though, the blog entry was written way back in April of this year! The reason why I wasn't aware of it until now is because the search engine I normally use didn't include that particular blog in their search results. I sometimes switch search engines from time to time to compare how detailed one search engines results are in comparison to another. It was while I was temporarily switched to a different search engine that I came across the April 2011 blog entry. The blogger said that my blog page on Ray Stevens is probably the best reference site on the internet. The blog I'm referring to is called R S Crabb Music Review & Top Ten Site. The entry is called On the Subject of Ray Stevens.

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