In a previous blog entry I remarked that a lot of compilation projects on Ray Stevens have been issued in some format or another throughout the latter half of the '60s and running non-stop through the mid '90s. A lot of those compilations were not under Ray's control...once an artist records songs for a label, the label in return takes ownership of those recordings and the distribution rights. It gets even more confusing and complex if a label is bought out or merges with another company or if the label gives distribution rights to a second, third, or fourth party...that sort of thing can create a scenario of multiple record labels issuing compilation albums of the same songs, just in different sequential order, and usually with varying audio quality, too. If I remember it correctly from some things I've read through the years, if the singer happens to be the song's writer or it's publisher then that artist owns the rights of the written 'song' (lyrics and music) but not the actual recording of that song (the recording is owned by the label). Having said that, if a singer is the song's writer but the publisher is someone else then it's said that the writer/artist and the publisher share ownership of the song but the recording is still under control by whatever label the artist recorded it for.
Ray Stevens is one of the pioneers, in my opinion, of savvy music sense. As soon as he as able he began to publish the songs he wrote and he began publishing pretty much every song he happened to record because he learned that the publisher had the most lucrative career. Every so often he'll record songs that aren't tied to his publishing house but those are exceptions to the norm...typically he records songs he's either written, co-written, or have been submitted to him by a core of songwriters that work in his publishing company. He produces his recording sessions from his own recording studio and arranges the music on the songs that he chooses to record and has long been the piano/keyboard/synthesizer extraordinaire of his albums (he'll occasionally play the trumpet, vibraphone, or other instruments but mostly he sticks with instruments in the piano family). On some of his albums (specifically the late '80s/early '90s) he handed over the piano duties to a musician named Gary Prim (if you look at the musician credits you'll see his name) but Ray was still credited for the keyboard and synthesizer contributions of those albums.
1. Ahab the Arab; 1962
2. Furthermore; 1962
3. Funny Man; 1963
4. The Deodorant Song; 1963
5. Harry the Hairy Ape; 1963
6. Just One of Life's Little Tragedies; 1963
7. Speed Ball; 1963
8. Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer; 1964
9. My Dad; 1983
10. Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills; 1961
11. The Rock and Roll Show; 1962
12. Game Show Love; 1983
I mentioned earlier that the songs on that 1992 CD had appeared on a compilation release from Mercury in 1989. The label issued 2 separate collections in 1989, each consisting of the same songs and the same image of Ray, but under different titles: One release is titled Funny Man and the other is titled Ahab the Arab. The project happened to be released under the Polygram Records imprint...a subsidiary of Mercury Records...and there are 8 songs altogether. The catalog number for the 1989 pressing titled Ahab the Arab is 838 169-4 (note it's similarity to the 1992 catalog number). The 8 songs on those 1989 collections are:
1. Ahab the Arab
3. Funny Man
4. The Deodorant Song
5. Harry the Hairy Ape
6. Just One of Life's Little Tragedies
7. Speed Ball
8. Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer
As you can see, 1992's CD simply took the 8 songs from the 1989 compilation and tacked on 4 additional songs to give it 12 tracks altogether.