Welcome to the Golden LP series...as you can see I'm at part seven. For those who may read this blog entry and have no prior knowledge of this particular series then a brief explanation is in order. I began this series to spotlight every studio album released on Ray Stevens, in chronological order, and also spotlight a few compilation releases. Since this is part seven in the series we'll be looking at his seventh studio album, Unreal!!!. The addition of the three explanation points is featured on the official album title and so I thought I'd include them, too. I usually don't get too specific when it comes to how an album or song title is officially written but in this case I decided to.
The album features 11 songs and the material ranges from topical commentary to traditional love ballads to inspirational songs. Overall the Unreal!!! album is heavily topical...with references made to protests, the war, social issues, and politics in general. The album's main single, in hindsight, is obviously "America, Communicate With Me". Although you probably will not find mention of this song in any History of Pop Music publication or any editorial chronicling protest-era pop music of the late '60s and early '70s, I happen to feel that this particular song spoke to a much wider audience and reflected the common sense logic of the average citizen not caught up in any extreme political or social agenda from either political party. The song opens up with Ray asking a single question with two very different points of view as responses. I have no idea who the two people giving their responses happen to be or whether or not the distant sound of a car horn is a studio effect or if Ray literally went out in the street and asked two people, at random, his topical question. Whatever the case, the crux of the song is established at that point forward as Ray offers a middle of the road solution to the nation's social issues of the day. The single came ever so close to hitting the Top-40 on the Hot 100 but it did manage to reach the Easy-Listening Top-20. If you have never heard the song before I urge you to take a listen to it. I say that at any chance I get because it's a great song, obviously, but also because it stymies the narrative that several left-leaning bloggers have spread in recent years that Ray's "never gotten political with his music" but this song and the entire Unreal!!! album shows otherwise.
The Unreal!!! album is one in a long list of compelling Ray Stevens albums. Those who've become used to the hilarious, comical image of Ray the last couple of decades need to take a listen to his more serious recordings if you hadn't done so before. However, in spite of the compelling songs on the 1970 album and his serious recordings gaining some momentum with music buyers it would be another comical release from him that dominated the coverage in the trade publications and music charts world wide. We'll discuss that comical single in my next chapter of this series!