March 4, 2012
Ray Stevens 9-CD box set: My Review...
However, this came to an end when a wide variety of music video channels began popping up on cable television by the late '90s. The newer channels were something of a brand...with an advertising agenda...never daring to deviate from formula. This branding also led ALL the video channels to only program music videos to songs that were currently on the radio. That sort of thing, in my opinion, defeated the whole point behind the concept of seeing if exclusive music video exposure could potentially generate music sales. Ray mentions this sort of thing during his commentary for a few of his songs that were wildly popular on country music video channels in the early '90s but were pulled in favor of what's termed as radio-friendly artists. This term, for those unaware, is applied to any musical act who performs songs that follow a certain edict or pattern for universal radio airplay acceptance. Ray, nor the biographer, go into as much detail as I just did but when you get your Encyclopedia collection you'll see that Ray has some opinions about the programming side of the music industry.
I listened to this collection, with a few breaks, throughout the night. I'm a night-owl anyway...I work nights through the week so when I'm wide awake on the weekends during the overnight hours it afforded me the time to listen to the collection virtually uninterrupted. A lot of the songs remain faithful to their originals...a few of the songs include added lyrics as Ray offers asides and commentary as the songs go into a fade-out. "Searchin'", for example, ends with a lyric not heard on the original recording from The Coasters. "Mr. Custer", another example, ends with Ray offering additional dialogue not heard in the original by Larry Verne or the first cover version from Ray on his 1969 Gitarzan album.
One of the things that shines through is Ray's love of early R&B and novelty music...I didn't take count but there are more than a few covers of Coasters recordings on here as well as Spike Jones classics from the '40s and '50s. Ray brings out the sound-effects in all their audio glory when he delivers "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth", "Cocktails For Two", "William Tell Overture", "I Went To Your Wedding", and "My Old Flame". In the latter Ray does a broad impression of Peter Lorre...the original by Spike Jones featured voice actor Paul Frees as the Peter Lorre sound-a-like.
As far as The Coasters, Ray takes us on a musical ride through the following: "Poison Ivy", "Searchin'", "Little Egypt", "Along Came Jones", "Yakety Yak", and "Charlie Brown". Technically The Coasters also recorded "Love Potion #9" but didn't have the biggest hit with it. This distinction is held by The Searchers, an early R&B group. Ray's version is on CD 5. In a vocal display heard throughout the 8 CD's we have Ray's uncanny mimicry of early R&B vocalists countering the other forms of novelty/comedy music. Ray gives us "How Much Is That Hound Dog in the Winder?", a country comedy classic from Homer and Jethro. Ray and Lori Stegner do a few duets on this massive collection. Stegner, for those who don't know, is the woman who portrays Sarah Palin in Ray's music video, "Caribou Barbie". Ray and Lori team up for "No Help Wanted", a classic from The Carlisles; "Tim-Tay-Shun", a parody originally recorded by Red Ingle and Jo Stafford of a song spelled "Temptation"; and "Too Old To Cut the Mustard", another classic from The Carlisles.
Did you ever think that Ray Stevens would do an update on "In The Mood"? In the original from late 1976, released by Ray as The Henhouse Five Plus Too, Ray clucks out the instrumental with some help from a cow. On this project Ray demonstrates his technical prowess with sound effects and vocal tricks...successfully reviving "In The Mood" without deviating from the original chicken clucking recording from 36 years ago!
"Come to the U.S.A.", one of those massively popular on-line music videos, is included on CD 9 in it's audio form.
This massive collection of music is a must-have for any comedy/novelty song enthusiast. It's also a must-have for the sheer amount of recordings...108 altogether...and without question any fan of Ray Stevens shouldn't be without this Encyclopedia project, either!
Ray Stevens delivers a truly unique and comprehensive collection of comedy music...The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music to be precise! It's fantastic.
This collection is available, for now, as CD-only. Ray's web-store is easy to navigate and if you purchase with an electronic transaction the shipment will arrive a lot sooner. I ordered my copy the day it went on sale, February 28th, a Tuesday, and it arrived on a Friday...three days later!
During a recording career that's amidst it's 55th anniversary (dating back to 1957) this Encyclopedia project will astonish those who've been away too long...the energy level of these recordings is top-notch...a lot of those early novelty songs require a lot of energy to pull off and sound comparable to the original. When you get the project listen to the energetic Stevens storm his way through all those Spike Jones hits and those of The Coasters. "The Witch Doctor" is on here, too, which is another one of those songs erroneously credited to Ray but never recorded by him until now.
Ray once recorded a song in 1980 titled "The Last Laugh", a very funny comedy song I might add, and with this Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music it looks as if Ray will continue to have that last laugh on those who dare say that the public never remembers a comedy song beyond it's original shelf life.
Click the 9-CD link below:
Purchase Ray's 9-CD Encyclopedia Here
Abba Dabba Honeymoon
Ahab The Arab
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
Along Came Jones
A Boy Named Sue
The Ballad Of The Blue Cyclone, Part 1
The Ballad Of The Blue Cyclone, Part 2
The Bricklayer’s Song
Bridget The Midget
Chug A Lug
Cigareets And Whuskey And Wild Wild Women
Cocktails For Two
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor
The Dooright Family
The Downtown Poker Club
Drop Kick Me Jesus
Get A Job
I'm Kissin' You Goodbye
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
Harry The Hairy Ape
The Haircut Song
Henry The Eighth
Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh
Huggin' And Chaulkin'
How Much Is That Hound Dog In The Winder
If 10% Is Good Enough For Jesus
I’m My Own Grandpa
In The Mood
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
I Still Write Your Name In The Snow
Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
It’s Me Again Margaret
I Wanna Talk About Me
I Went To Your Wedding
Jeremiah Peabody’s Green And Purple Pills
Kansas City Star
The King Is Gone And So Are You
Little Brown Jug
Love Potion #9
Makin’ The Best Of A Bad Situation
May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
Mississippi Squirrel Revival
My Old Flame
No Help Wanted
Ode to The Little Brown Shack Out Back
Open The Door, Richard
Osama Yo' Mama
The Pirate Song
The Preacher And The Bear
The Purple People Eater
Rub It In
Santa Claus Is Watching You
Sittin’ Up With The Dead
Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette
Spiders And Snakes
That’s What I Like About The South
There Is Something On Your Mind
Three Legged Man
Three Little Fishes
They’re Coming To Take Me Away! Ha! Ha!
The Too Fat Polka
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport
Too Old To Cut The Mustard
William Tell Overture
The Witch Doctor
Would Jesus Wear A Rolex
Bonus material/CD 9:
The Camping Trip
Come To The U.S.A.
The Higher Education Of Old Blue
Hugo The Human Cannonball
Obama Budget Plan
The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore