***My review of Ray's current CD contains spoilers! If you don't want to read about the songs or learn of any of the hooks, phrases, or some of the lyrics then don't read the rest of this blog entry***
After the bouncy opening track about Taylor
we're treated to Ray covering one of his musical idols, Ray Charles. I
pretty much know that the purists that'll hear the Ray Stevens rendition
of the Ray Charles classic "What'd I Say" aren't gong to like it. After
all, they may ask, how can you top a Ray Charles recording?
necessarily believe Ray Stevens set out to try and top the classic
rendition from Ray Charles, though. I think that Ray Stevens simply
wanted to record the song and so he did. I happen to love the rendition.
Even if some may groan about the idea of someone other than the late
Ray Charles performing that song at least it gives Ray Stevens an
opportunity to display his obvious love for classic Rhythm and Blues
Aside from the song about Taylor Swift, one of my other
favorites from this CD is "There Must Be a Pill For This". This one is
vintage Ray Stevens...it tells the story of pills...and the enormous
quantity of pills that are on the market for everything under the sun.
Pills to help thick people lose weight, and pills to help frail people
gain weight. It's a satire on pills...miracle pills, specifically...and
as an added pleasure there's a parody of those lengthy disclaimers that
appear as voice-overs on healthcare commercials.
changes for the next song, "Walkin' the Dog". In this one Ray sings of
constantly bickering with his wife. Instead of moping around the house
he simply goes outside, gets Rover, and walks the dog. He reckons that
once he starts to take the dog for a walk he may run into a woman
putting on the dog (presumably to be a possible new love interest).
Track Five is thrilling...a cover of "Hearts Made of Stone". I looked up
the song's title and found out that it had been a Rhythm and Blues hit
in 1954 for a group called The Charms. I had heard an audio clip of
Ray's recording and since that time I had been wondering the reason for
the 1950's-style of audio (complete with echo!) and I eventually found
out the reason. It's clearly the stand-out song on the CD if only for it
not vocally sounding like anything else. I love the over-dubbed do-wah
harmonies heard throughout.
The most country sounding recording
on the entire CD is "Pickin' on the Chicken". This one, too, is one of
my favorites. In the song Ray sings from a chicken's point of view and
he demands to know the reason so many negative expressions are
associated with chickens, hens, and eggs. Throughout the song we're
treated to a list of expressions and sayings that put the chicken in a
bad light...expressions like 'madder than a wet hen'; 'that's chicken
feed'; 'He's got egg on his face'; 'One flew the coop'; etc. Ray also
manages to get in a reference to Willie Nelson, too, in a laugh out loud
The second-most country sounding recording is
"The Baptism of Stumpy Brown". The song is about an atheist that
suddenly finds religion in his 90s and insists on being baptized as a
result. The frail body in a raging river is bound to cause some
incidents...and Ray tells of those in this story. Inspiration surfaces
in the song "Little by Little". There is a song on here called "You
Didn't Build That"...let's just say I find it hilarious...but it's
something that more than likely is not going to go over too well with,
say, fans of the President. That song is followed by a contemporary
classic in the form of the illegal immigration anthem "Come to the
U.S.A." (a song from 2010). Illegal immigration is a hot topic and one
that's consistently controversial. Although I'm reviewing the CD there's
an Mp3 copy for sale, too, and that means customers can pick and choose
the songs they want to purchase from Here We Go Again! I prefer having a
physical copy of the CD.
Along the lines of manhood and
masculinity comes "A Handshake Will Do", track 11. The lyrics cry foul
on guys hugging other guys unless it's called for and Ray gives examples
for when it's okay. Ironically, on the day this CD went on sale, a
picture of Larry Gatlin attempting to hug Ray appeared on Ray's social
media sites. There's no reference to this song, as far as the picture is
concerned, though. I call it just one of those ironic coincidences.
Ray had appeared as a guest artist on the Grand Ole Opry on March 21st on a segment hosted by Larry Gatlin.
CD's closing track, "Knock Him Out John", is another one of my
favorites. I call it a tribute to the late Jerry Clower. It's a recap of
Jerry's story of the time he and some of his friends went hunting for
racoons and ended up having an encounter with a lynx. Ray's recording is
the story set to music. Ray does his rendition of Jerry's holler and it
appears at various moments during the song's chorus.
I thoroughly enjoyed the CD...his restless energy and incredible vocals are on full display on this CD!