May 28, 2013

Sing a song of Ray Stevens...

Single releases, not necessarily album releases, played a big role in the amount of sales racked up by Ray Stevens. This can be said for a wide variety of recording artists through the decades but if one looks at the earliest releases from Ray you'll notice that they were pretty much all singles. Album releases really didn't really become important until, of course, artists started selling much more albums than singles. Music historians often cite the late '60s as the era in which sales of albums and the importance of albums started to become appreciated even though albums (LP's) had been around for many years. For some, mostly those consumers in the late '60s, albums were meant to be complimentary to a current single release. By complimentary I mean that a single was in large part suppose to be part of an on-going storyline throughout the album and the thinking was if you purchase the album you'll get to hear more songs in the same vein as the single. LP purists, as I like to refer to them as, insist that an album follow a similar pattern or that each song has some sort of tie with another and that there shouldn't be a series of unrelated songs with varying tempo's. An overused expression by music critics, mostly purists, is what's referred to as "an uneven album". If you read many critical essays you may see that phrase come up a lot.

Albums were equally referred to as LP's and depending on who you ask, they still are. LP stood for "long playing". In the music industry there is also something called an EP which stands for "extended play". An EP was typically a single with more than two songs but fewer than six. One side of an EP may have 2 songs and the other side have 3 or each side may have 3 songs. A traditional single, a 45-RPM, typically had a song on side one and another song on side two. A promo single may have the same song on both sides. In the single above from 1969 they use the cover photo of Ray's 1968 album, Even Stevens. This particular single from Ray hit the Top-30 on the Hot 100 pop chart in 1969 but it's from the Gitarzan comedy album. "Along Cme Jones" and "Yakety Yak" had both been hit recordings by one of Ray's musical influences, The Coasters. You should be able to find Ray's 1972 performance of "Along Came Jones" on-line. If you look up the song's title and Ray's name it should be one of the first results that show up. The performance comes from the television show, Hee Haw.

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