One of the things about the late '70s period in the career of Ray Stevens is just how mellow and laid back his vocalizations mostly were. Look no further than 1978's "You're Magic" from the album, Be Your Own Best Friend. In a lighter than air vocal performance, Ray delivers the correct vocal accompaniment. Obviously, after hearing the song as many times as I have, I couldn't imagine it performed any other way. The writer of the song is Layng Martine, Jr., a songwriter-singer whose supplied Ray with other songs...the most notable being Ray's 1974 Top-20 Easy-Listening hit, "Everybody Needs a Rainbow", which also hit the Country Top-40. Layng worked as a writer for Ray's publishing company for a number of years and for a period of time Ray was the producer/arranger/publisher of Layng's own recordings on Barnaby Records.
Ray's publishing company reaped the benefits of "Rub It In", a song that Layng wrote and released as a single in the early '70s. The much more widely known version, by Billy 'Crash' Craddock, hit #1. The publisher of a song typically remains the same no matter who records it and yes, before you can ask, on the single from Craddock, in the upper left hand portion of the label it reads Publisher: Ahab Music Co., Inc. (BMI). Ray recorded "Rub It In", too, but much later, in 2008! Ray was also the publisher of "Way Down", another composition from Layng, in which Elvis hit with in 1977. On the RCA single of "Way Down", on the lower left hand side of the label underneath the vocal accompaniment credits, it reads Ray Stevens Music, BMI. Sammy Kershaw singles "Cadillac Style" and "I Can't Reach Her Anymore" were also published by Ray's company. But speaking of the late '70s...
One of the things that I happen to love about the episodes of Pop! Goes the Country that have made it to DVD is it mostly spotlights the woefully obscure late '70s period of Ray's career. The Ray Stevens music from the late '70s is worthy of more attention than it often gets. Now, picking up on what I briefly mentioned in my previous blog entry, Ray Stevens made quite a few guest appearances on Pop! Goes the Country. I've spotlighted the DVD collections that are available from Classic Country DVD and provided links. In late February/early March 2010 I wrote several blog entries about the DVDs that I ordered from the company. Search the archives located on the right hand side of the page if interested in reading my commentary at the time. Given that Ray Stevens appeared on quite a few episodes it's remained baffling, at least to me, why only 5 of his episodes have been spotlighted on a collection that has 24 volumes (as of now). I'm sure Ray isn't the only artist that isn't heavily represented but since this is a Ray Stevens fan-created blog page he's the artist I'm focusing on. I'm grateful for the episodes that have been featured on the DVDs but hopefully my commentary is seen as a hint that I'd love to see more and more of the Ray Stevens episodes surface on DVD in the near future.
I don't have any information on which artists appeared on every single episode but I'll guess and say that Ray Stevens is one of those artists that easily made at least 15 appearances over the course of the program's 7 and a half year run (September 1974- January 1982). The series was syndicated and it aired on the weekends, typically in the late afternoon, in many television markets. This program, along with Hee Haw, Nashville on the Road, and The Porter Wagoner Show, is responsible for expanding the national coverage of country music at a time when country music's exposure was confined mostly to the southern states and a few outlets in the Midwest and Texas. I'm speaking of both television coverage and radio programming. Country music radio in the '70s was relegated to a couple hundred scattered throughout those same geographical locales. Compare a couple hundred to more than a thousand country radio stations today...all over the United States...instead of in just a handful of states.