February 26, 2012

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 31...

Well, it's an early Sunday morning here...and to update something from my previous blog entry: The episode of Larry's Country Diner that aired Saturday night at 11pm on RFD-TV featured Moe Bandy as I had assumed it would. I also assume this means that the Ray Stevens episode will air on March 8th as originally announced prior to all the confusion that took place on February 23rd on Facebook regarding Ray's appearance on the show. I hope you all enjoyed the video clip of Ray Stevens and Kix Brooks! If you haven't seen it I'll post another link to it at the end of this blog entry.

The catalog number for this 1971 album from Ray Stevens is BR-5004. I mention the catalog number due to the fact that the image of Ray that graces this album's cover would later re-appear on a couple of collections with almost completely different track lists. The release with the BR-5004 number features 11 songs recorded by Ray during the years of 1968 through 1971. Then there is the second version located below with a completely different letter design featuring songs from 1968 through 1971 and 1973 through 1975. The year of 1972 is often always omitted on these compilation albums because that was the year that Ray released a series of gospel songs. "Turn Your Radio On", a legendary gospel song, is the only gospel recording from Ray that gets inclusion on these releases. My guess is it's Top-20 showing on the country charts in early 1972 merits it's inclusion on a lot of the compilation albums. The hit gospel recordings Ray had in 1972 do not get much publicity but he did have back-to-back Top-10 hits on the Adult-Contemporary chart with gospel recordings in 1972: "All My Trials" and "A Mama and a Papa". The Adult-Contemporary format, known at that time as Easy-Listening, programmed songs that were classified as pop (contemporary) but had an appeal with older listeners. Ray had quite a few big hits on this format during the early to mid '70s.

In this release the track list features a hefty amount of recordings from 1974 and 1975 to build upon the success of his version of "Misty". The song would go on to win a Grammy in early 1976 in the Best Arrangement category for it's use to banjo, fiddle, steel guitar, and piano...in addition to the uptempo delivery. The original recording had long been performed or thought of as a slow love ballad until the Ray Stevens version came along in 1975. The single reached the Top-20 on the pop chart and the Top-5 on the country chart. A Misty album came along in 1975. In addition to "Misty", the 1975 hit single "Indian Love Call" is also on this compilation. Ray's version of the song hit the country Top-40. The song had originally been made famous by Slim Whitman. Ray's version featured a bluesy/doo-wop style arrangement...slowing down the tempo considerably from the bouncy up-tempo sing-a-long made famous by Whitman. In addition to those 1975 hits there is "The Streak", from 1974, which became the biggest selling single of his career. 1974 is also represented by "The Moonlight Special", a lesser-known but hysterical hit comedy song spoofing the television program The Midnight Special.

Here are the track lists on the two compilation albums that feature the same picture of Ray:

1971 release:

1. Everything Is Beautiful
2. Gitarzan
3. Isn't It Lonely Together
4. Harry the Hairy Ape
5. Have a Little Talk With Myself
6. America, Communicate With Me
7. Mr. Businessman
8. Along Came Jones
9. Bridget the Midget
10. Unwind
11. Ahab the Arab

1975 release:

1. Misty
2. Unwind
3. Turn Your Radio On
4. Everything Is Beautiful
5. Mr. Businessman
6. Indian Love Call
7. The Streak
8. Nashville
9. The Moonlight Special
10. Gitarzan
11. Ahab the Arab

Here's that link to the video clip I posted in the previous blog entry: Ray Stevens and Kix Brooks

No comments:

Post a Comment

Show your appreciation for the music of Ray Stevens...leave a comment...