October 22, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series, Part Nine...

We've made our way up to Losin' Streak, the ninth studio album from Ray Stevens. This particular release can easily be referred to as super-obscure. The album had the misfortune of receiving next to no publicity and to this day it remains an overlooked gem of an album. The only single release from the project was the title track, "Losin' Streak", which occurred early in 1973 and it didn't make an appearance on any weekly singles chart. There was a lot of activity going on in Ray's career, behind the scenes, as several of his recordings were earning publisher awards and other citations in addition to the success of his new recording studio at the time, The Ray Stevens Sound Laboratory, a critically praised top-flight studio that saw producers and artists lining up to utilize the facility for their recordings due to the advanced technology that it was equipped with. One of the stories that ran during that time period was how productive his studio had become for other artists that he often found little time for his own recordings. However, Losin' Streak changed all that and it became his debut release from his new recording studio. As mentioned, the title track was released as a single in the early months of 1973...my research shows that it became commercially available in late February. Typically a single is given two, sometimes three months, to make an impact at radio or on the charts in some way. The typical life-span for a charted single can be anywhere from 11 weeks to 16 weeks depending on just how big a song becomes with radio or the public. Apparently "Losin' Streak" didn't enthuse radio programmers as it didn't reach the charts...and the album of the same name, featuring 11 songs total, hit during the early spring of 1973. The album also failed to reach any weekly LP chart upon it's arrival. Now, this isn't surprising considering the lead-off single wasn't a chart hit but it's a bit baffling why no other single was released to help bolster potential sales for the Losin' Streak album...but then again, research I did several years ago shows that within a month of the release the Losin' Streak album Ray was already looking ahead to his next single release. That release came into existence in late June of 1973.

The 11 songs on the album appear in the following manner: 5 songs on Side 1 and 6 songs on Side 2. The album's lead-off is the title track, "Losin' Streak". Ray offers an updated version of "Just One Of Life's Little Tragedies", a song he originally recorded in 1963. In an inspirational vein is "Inside", one of several highlights from the album. The music heard on this album is much more synthesized and heavy on effects...again, this is a result of Ray's technological prowess at his new recording studio. He gives a slow, bluesy rendition of "Bye Bye Love" to close out Side 1. "Things Work Out", track four, is another inspirational message and this one deals with relationship issues and how things seem to work out for the best regardless of the situation. The opening track on Side 2, "Being Friends", tells the story of a couple who haven't yet become an item but are slowly getting there through friendship. Clever lyrics and irony sum up the mismatched couple sang about in "Idaho Wine" while "This Is Your Life" shows off more studio effects as Ray holds nothing back as he belts out the chorus of the song, aided by overdubbed harmonies and other production work. "Laid Back" is an instrumental...it isn't often that an instrumental shows up on a vocal album...and there's no indication that it's an instrumental in the credits so for those who may track down this LP on auction sites you've now been informed that one of the selections is an instrumental. It's a soothing and mellow instrumental as well...perhaps deliberately placed after the power ballad performance of "This Is Your Life". Track 10 is Ray's cover of a 1971 country music hit written and recorded by Freddie Hart called "Easy Lovin". Freddie's recording was the #1 Country Single of 1971 and it won numerous awards and was still a radio recurrent by the time Ray did his cover version. Losin' Streak closes with "What Do You Know", a song with heavy philosophical lyrics.

To the casual music audience, Ray Stevens was still very much viewed as a comical artist and on the music side of things his releases were almost automatically marketed to a pop audience. As the '70s progressed his singles started to find more and more acceptance with older audiences...those typically aged 35 and up...country music had a core fan base of older and slightly more conservative music buyers when compared to the demographic make-up of Top-40 pop radio whose main target audience ranged anywhere from age 18 to 35. After the critical and consumer neglect of Losin' Streak took up the first several months of 1973, Ray's tenth studio album came along soon after in the summer. This time the album focused more on story songs and less on production effects and techniques...although there is one song on the tenth studio album that showcased Ray's expert production skills.

It's time we visit Nashville in the next Golden LP Series...an album whose title track obviously shows just how much the city means to the artist.    


  1. Do you have a USB turntable? You could make a CD copy from the LP. I think he produced his best work while recording for Barnaby.

    1. I don't have a turntable capable of being connected to a computer but I've got a turntable and vinyl albums in my collection. You can find CD copies of his Barnaby recordings on Amazon. A company called Collectible's Records released all but one of his studio albums onto CD in 2005. The studio album for Barnaby that didn't get a CD release happened to be the one this blog entry is about, "Losin' Streak" from 1973. His Barnaby era is great and it's his most commercial but I love all of his recordings.

    2. Do you have the Liberty Bell CD that has his first two albums on it?


Show your appreciation for the music of Ray Stevens...leave a comment...