February 4, 2013

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 47...

Welcome to February 2013...as we look at in the Nostalgia Valley we see a 1966 recording titled "Baby the Magic is Gone", produced by Ray Stevens and performed by a group called The Velvets. As you can see, the recording was for the Monument label. As visitors of this blog are aware, if you've read some of the earlier Nostalgia Valley entries, Ray took a hiatus from recording and he focused on being a producer and music arranger before resuming his recording career in 1966. Ray continued to produce and arrange musical acts for Monument as well as on a host of lesser known labels through the mid '60s but he eventually focused more time and energy on his own recording career by the end of the decade and beyond.

I mentioned a particular You Tube channel several blog entries ago that specialized in obscure mid '60s recordings...and some of those recordings are associated in some way to Ray Stevens. In some instances he's the music arranger and in some he's the songwriter and in others he's the producer. I think in a couple he's all three! The channel uploaded a new clip a few days ago and that's the embed you see above. The upload happened on January 30, 2012 and so it's a few days old. This one was uploaded a year ago today on February 4, 2012...it's a group called The Casuals performing "Promise Her Anything" from 1965. Ray Stevens is the credited music arranger while the producer is Fred Foster.

Here's the You Tube Channel featuring the obscure mid '60s recordings. I've posted a link to this channel before but it's been a few years. There are currently 11 uploads associated with Ray Stevens. When you visit the channel you can easily find the video clips because they're all divided up into different playlists. The playlist devoted to Ray's production/arranging is 8th on the list. 

I'd say the bulk of recordings where Ray was the arranger/producer came from that 1964-1967 era. Once Ray's first LP for Monument hit the market in 1968, Even Stevens, followed by 1969's Gitarzan and Have a Little Talk With Myself, Ray, as mentioned earlier, started to focus more and more on his own recording career and slowly drifted from the production and session work he had been doing for other artists. His increasing presence on television by way of The Andy Williams Show and a change to Barnaby Records in 1970 ushered in different directions and opportunities for Ray as well.

I recall an interview where Ray mentioned that the session work he did all seems like a blur (which is understandable). He participated in hundreds of recording sessions, including his own, in a span of 3 to 4 years...arranging music and playing on sessions and being a producer, at times...it's all a blur to me, too, and I'm only writing about it!

Fast-forwarding to 2013...a couple of days ago, on February 2nd, Ray took part in a benefit concert at the McClain Christian Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. There were other artists that took part in the concert including Deborah Allen, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Ricky Skaggs just to name a few. The event was titled Music at the Mill. Some of the posts I saw on social media sites indicated that Ray performed "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". There were pictures made available of several of the artists who attended...I found three featuring Ray Stevens...one of those was a picture of Ray and Deborah Allen. I also found what could be described as a publicity photo promoting the benefit concert. Search the internet and use the various combination of keywords 'Ray Stevens', 'Deborah Allen', 'McClain Christian Academy + Ray Stevens', etc. etc.

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