October 26, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series Extra...1977...

In this Extra feature of the Golden LP Series we take a look at a single-only release from Ray Stevens titled "In The Mood". The recording represents a series of firsts in that it was the first single release by the totally fictional group, The Hen House Five Plus Too. It would also be the first and, to date, only Top-40 single by the fictional group. The novelty song, as mentioned, was released as a single-only and it's B-side is "Classical Cluck". It's to nobody's surprise that once you hear the recording you'll immediately have a craving for a chicken sandwich or maybe some fried chicken...but then some people may have a sick stomach after hearing it...not everyone likes chicken I guess? It's like the critics wanted to pluck the feathers from the chicken before it had a chance to roost. As I've mentioned many times over the course of my fan-created blog page, not everyone appreciates bizarre, odd, nonsensical recordings whose sole purpose is to be bizarre, odd, nonsensical, etc. etc. People then, and to this day, always make the mistake of trying to look at the novelty song in the same manner one might look at a run of the mill love ballad or whatever. I've read commentary by those who simply don't like novelty songs. I've read commentary from those who consider novelty songs as wastes of time on both the singer and listener's part. I've even read commentary from those who valiantly struggle to find some sort of heavy, philosophical connection between any recorded song and human life. Those with that frame of mind are doing a disservice to themselves because novelty songs aren't meant to be heavy, deep, and philosophical. They're meant to be whimsical, nonsensical, odd, bizarre, and all the other adjectives that go with it.

Like it or not the consumers were "In the Mood" for this single in the final weeks of 1976 into the early part of 1977.         

"In the Mood" was originally a huge instrumental hit for Glenn Miller. The melody was already familiar to many people. Ray had the idea of clucking the instrumental as a group of chickens. Chickens are the main contributors but you'll also hear a cow and a goat, too. According to various interviews where he recollected the Hen House single, the recording was meant for private use but the label wanted to release it as a single. I assume the label felt that it would be something of a novelty hit of some kind and the concept was too irresistible to back away from. Whatever the reason, it did in fact become a hit single. Released in the final weeks of December 1976, "In the Mood" reached it's peak in the early months of 1977. It hit the Top-40 on both the pop and country charts and it also reached the Top-40 in the United Kingdom. It was in the U.K. where the single was released under Ray's own name rather than under the pseudonym of the Hen House Five Plus Too. It was also in the United Kingdom where it charted higher...nearly reaching the Top-30. On the American pop and country charts it scratched it's way into the Top-40 for a few weeks whereas in the U.K. it had several weeks to scratch, cackle, sizzle and then simmer.

The recording has appeared on a few Ray Stevens greatest hits releases through the years but it's not officially available in Mp3 format at this time. You can search around for the song in CD format at numerous on-line music stores...one such CD is The Best of Ray Stevens from Rhino Records.

It's available on Amazon...take a look at it...don't be chicken!   

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