March 26, 2012

Ray Stevens and Those Wonderful Warner Brothers Records...

Get Crazy With Me is a single from Ray Stevens released in 1977 from the Warner Brothers studio album, Feel The Music. The single charted in the lower portions of the Country Top-100 starting in late February 1977 and based upon my research it was quickly swept under the rug after it's quick chart appearance. This doesn't mean that the single was no good...and it certainly doesn't mean that the artist wasn't only means that country radio missed it's chance at playing this emotionally provocative recording. Instead, country radio was playing another single released a month earlier from Ray...the chicken clucking classic "In The Mood". The chicken clucker was released in December 1976 and became a hit almost immediately...charting early in January 1977 and statistically out-lasting "Get Crazy With Me" by one chart week. Also, "In The Mood" reached the Top-40 of both the country and pop charts plus it reached the Top-40 in England. In June of 1977 "Dixie Hummingbird" did much better, in terms of chart position, as it peaked a few slots below the Country Top-40. Feel The Music, overall, wasn't a country music album though. Aside from "Dixie Hummingbird" there weren't any other recordings that would be considered 'country'. The track list for the 1977 album is below:

1. Feel The Music
2. Daydream Romance
3. Blues Love Affair
4. Alone With You
5. Junkie For You
6. Get Crazy With Me
7. Save Me From Myself
8. Road Widow
9. Set The Children Free
10. Dixie Hummingbird

1978's There Is Something On Your Mind is a rather obscure release. As I've touched upon in previous blog entries it's a salute to early R&B music and it features liner notes from Ray about each and every recording contained on the album. The project features 8 selections but don't let that number fool you into thinking that the album is a quick listen. Several of the songs on here have a running time of 4 minutes and there are some that clock in just under 4 minutes. The "Old Faithful Trilogy", for example, has a running time of more than 5 minutes. "The Dance Trilogy" is almost as long at 4 minutes and 37 seconds (give or take a few seconds). There is another trilogy on here, "The Banned in Boston Trilogy", and it also has a 4 minute plus running time. Doing the math that's at least 15 minutes for just three of the recordings. What are the songs in those trilogies you may be asking? Well, in the "Old Faithful Trilogy" we have a medley of "Shake a Hand", "Since I Met You Baby", and "Always". In the "Dance Trilogy" there's the medley of "Do You Wanna Dance?", "When You Dance", and "Save the Last Dance For Me". In the "Banned in Boston Trilogy" we have the medley of "Sixty Minute Man", "Work With Me Annie", and "Annie Had a Baby".

The album is exquisite. Yes, I use that phrase for practically everything Ray's put out...but I especially use that description whenever I'm writing about his Warner Brothers and later RCA material. Aside from the three trilogies there are five additional recordings to further tell the story of early R&B. We hear Ray tell us several love stories...each with different outcomes on "One Mint Julep", "Money Honey", and "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash". In the latter two recordings Ray adds a lot of unique instrumentation...with a loud, pulsating drum intro for "Money Honey" followed by other funky instrumentation. The other two songs on this collection are "Talk To Me" and the half-comical title track, "There Is Something On Your Mind". Ray had a ball recording these songs judging by the way he performed them and the amount of production that went into the recordings. The liner notes, too, speak for themselves as Ray enthusiastically remarks on each of the songs on the album.

1. Dance Trilogy
2. Talk To Me
3. One Mint Julep
4. Old Faithful Trilogy
5. Money Honey
6. Banned In Boston Trilogy
7. Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash
8. There Is Something On Your Mind

Here's an interesting image. It's the back of Ray's 1978 album, Be Your Own Best Friend. Click the following Be Your Own Best Friend flip side link and notice for that particular album it was decided to offer the lyrics to all 9 of the songs on the album. If you come across the album on eBay and you happen to purchase it you can easily sing-a-long once you play it. The Be Your Own Best Friend album features the Country Top-40 title track. The album, like the rest of Ray's albums, is impeccably produced and it also includes some of my all-time favorites: "L'amour", "You're Magic", "Comeback", and "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right". I'm sure a lot of you already know what the front of the album looks like. In case you don't here's another look...

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