March 25, 2012

Ray Stevens 9-CD box set, Part 11...

I'm interested in hearing from the fans of Ray Stevens and their reaction to the Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Quite a few of us purchased the box set the day it became available back on February 28th but I'm having a difficult time finding much feedback/commentary from those who purchased it. When you click the following Share Your Thoughts Here link it'll take you to the Encyclopedia page at Ray's web-site. While there you will see the promo video along with song samples. Also, there is the comment section. At the moment there are 48 comments dating back to February 27th. Breaking this down it amounts to what I call 33 headliner comments and 15 response comments. The bulk of the comments arose during the earliest days of release, February 28 through March 5, and as a result the comments are about anticipation of the box set arriving in the mail so there's not too many comments about the actual recordings, etc. etc. The first comment arrived on February 27th...and surprise, it wasn't made by me! I started making commentary on February 28th, though, and have answered questions from others that have made posts, too. That sort of thing, providing information about Ray, has become a fixture during my time on-line. I can't help answering something about Ray Stevens if someone else hasn't provided an answer yet. Now, there have been times when I'd see questions about Ray that I'd deliberately not answer...just to see if anyone else would care to answer...but ultimately what has happened is I've ended up providing information and answers all over the internet about Ray Stevens---not because I think I know more than everyone else---it's because nobody else has provided a response. Those of you who purchased the 9-CD box set and have had time to listen to it share your thoughts in the link I provided. In three days time it'll mark 1 month since the box set became available.

Jumping back more than 1 month ago we take a look at a single from Ray Stevens from 30 years ago. "Written Down In My Heart" arrived in 1982 as one of two singles released from Don't Laugh Now, the exquisite Ray Stevens album on RCA that year. The single reached the country Top-40 and it's a love ballad. The writer is W.T. Davidson. Ray performed this song on an episode of Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters in 1982 and I once had it on tape but unfortunately that particular video tape wore out. It was the first time I'd heard the song. This was the early '90s when The Nashville Network used to air repeats of Barbara's television show. It was also in the days before I had bought a record player and had no vinyl albums or singles in my music Ray Stevens items then pale in comparison to now.

Anyway, I happen to like Ray's performance of the song and it's become one of those obscure gems on an equally obscure album that pretty much only the dedicated know about. Ray recorded a lot of highly emotional recordings while on RCA Records in the early '80s...even though his time there is almost always represented historically for the recording of "Shriner's Convention", his Top-10 country hit from early 1980. I can understand why the song is always singled out on CD compilations: it reached the Top-10 and it's a comedy song. So, given that criteria, it's going to always be a part of any number of Ray Stevens compilations even though other recordings from the same time period that are just as good get overlooked...such as "Written Down In My Heart".

Always keep in mind that chart statistics fail to tell the Ray Stevens story. A measure of true popularity isn't always determined in how many #1 songs or #1 albums an artist obtains or how many awards they may have won...those statistics add to the story for an artist BUT, in my opinion, the measure of a singer's true popularity is measured in other ways too numerous to mention. Ray Stevens is one of those singers whose popularity, as an artist, has never waned. Commercial success is something that comes and goes, though, with any entertainment figure. Yet what I call legitimate popularity will either stay with or vacate an artist long after the so-called mainstream commercial hoopla has died's stayed with Ray Stevens.

Don't forget to visit his web-page and Share Your Thoughts about his new 9-CD box set!

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