October 21, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series Extra...1971...

Welcome to this Extra feature of the Golden LP Series. In this specific blog entry I'll be commenting about a certain single from Ray Stevens that hit in December 1970 but it had it greatest impact the following year. The current single from Ray, at the time, was "Sunset Strip". This particular single, as mentioned in the previous blog entry, became a Top-20 Easy-Listening hit. Several weeks after the single became a chart hit, his label, Barnaby Records, issued "Bridget the Midget The Queen of the Blues". It hit the charts in America during December of 1970, reaching the Top-50 early in 1971. However, the impact that the single had internationally had to have been a surprising achievement for all involved. The novelty single hit the Top-5 in several different countries throughout the early half of 1971. It reached the Top-5 in Holland, Belgium, Brazil, and the United Kingdom just to name a few. The novelty single used a sped-up vocal technique commonly associated with The Chipmunks franchise. The song, at it's core, is a spoof of Go-Go dance clubs where Ray portrays the singer/narrator, the emcee, Bridget, as well as a spaced out patron forever trying to get up on stage. The song was available as a single-only and eventually appeared on the first Greatest Hits release that Barnaby issued on Ray. Given the enormous popularity of the single overseas it created the scenario where Ray competed with himself and as history shows, "Bridget the Midget the Queen of the Blues" won the sales battle. 

As a hit single, "Bridget the Midget the Queen of the Blues" found it's way onto numerous compilation albums released on Ray Stevens throughout the 1970's but one of the more ironic aspects about this is how obscure the single's appearance became as the 1980's progressed. I'd been a fan of Ray's since about the mid '80s...I clearly remember watching him on Hee-Haw in the mid '80s as a co-host with Roy Clark...but I was not aware of this particular song at that point in time because it didn't appear on the 1983 or 1987 Greatest Hits releases from RCA and MCA, respectively, and yet other singles from the 1970's by Ray appeared on those albums. It wouldn't be until a 1990 compilation from Curb Records appeared on the market that I was introduced to this song for the first time. It's since become more prominent on CD and Mp3 but for whatever reason it was mostly an obscure offering during the 1980's.  

As was the case with most single releases by artists in the pop music umbrella, picture sleeves were commonplace and depending on how popular a single happened to be the more alternate picture sleeves it would spawn. There were multiple picture sleeves for this particular song and each used different pictures of Ray taken from various photo sessions in the late '60s and early '70s. The b-side, "Night People", originated on the Unreal!!! album. "Bridget the Midget" spent a combined total of more than 30 weeks on the weekly international music charts and it further reinforced his image as "a singer of comedy songs" to the general music buyer. Ray would follow up this single with a series of gospel-flavored offerings which ultimately climaxed in the 1972 release of his eighth studio album, Turn Your Radio On, so be on the lookout for Part Eight of the Golden LP series.

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