September 10, 2015

Ray Stevens: Freddie Feelgood and more...

One of the funniest recordings from Ray Stevens originated in 1966 but seen it's official music video arrive 34 years later in 2000.

"Freddie Feelgood and His Funky Little Five Piece Band", or as it's referred to by fans, "Freddie Feelgood", arrived in music video form in 2000 as part of a collection released on VHS titled Funniest Video Characters. The collection also provided the music video debuts of "The Pirate Song", "The Haircut Song", "Juanita and the Kids", and "The Blue Cyclone". The latter music video split in 2 separate parts like the original recording from 1985. A couple of previously released music videos from 1997, "Virgil and the Moonshot" and "Too Drunk To Fish", appeared on the home video collection to complete the project.

These music videos have since become fixtures on Ray's YouTube the process introducing an entirely different audience to some of the songs he recorded in the '80s and '90s that often go overlooked in the shadow of some of his other recordings from that time period. As far as the 2000 home video goes "Freddie Feelgood" was the oldest of the group. Ray's catalog of comedy songs also have great video potential and is one of the reasons why so many of his older songs were becoming available in modern-day music video format. Ray and his associates could take one of his comedy songs, at random, and be able to present a music video of it...and "Freddie Feelgood" having an origin from the mid '60s lent itself perfectly to video. The song itself is paints a visual picture...and that's the key to a lot of Ray's success in transforming an audio recording into a music video production so effortlessly.

Ray performed the song on the 1970 summer television program he hosted for Andy Williams...

Video of Ray's summer program had never been made available outside of a stray clip or two for historical purposes. This all changed a couple years ago after Ray uploaded dozens of performances from the 1970 summer program. Myself and several other fans of Ray Stevens have come to the conclusion that Andy's death (September 25, 2012) resulted in the availability of these performances after all those decades of unavailability. If you look at the videos from the 1970 summer series each of them contain an AW watermark. The video clips from the summer series didn't start to appear on Ray's YouTube channel until August 2013 (almost a full year after Andy passed away).

These performances are interesting, entertaining, highly nostalgic, and totally enjoyable for a variety of reasons. At long last fans ere able to see full-length performances (not just 20 to 30 second snippets) of Ray's summer television program. As an added plus there are performances by his cast of regulars...including several routines featuring both Ray and Andy (!) even though, technically, Andy was suppose to be on vacation.

"Freddie Feelgood", the music video produced in 2000, arrived on YouTube on May 25, 2011. At that point in time Ray had experienced phenomenal success on YouTube throughout much of 2010 and it carried over into 2011 and it created the opportunity to gather up some more older music video productions and introduce them to a different audience that perhaps didn't even see the music video's originally (more than a decade ago).

Ray launched his YouTube channel on July 13, 2009. The first 12 music video uploads to appear on his channel happened to be music videos taken from his home video projects Comedy Video Classics, his movie, Get Serious!, and 3 animated music videos that appeared on DVD originally in 2006 as part of a 5 music video collection called Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens. Another DVD of 5 animated music videos from Ray also became available in 2006 titled Gourmet Restaurant. All of the videos from those DVDs have since been uploaded onto Ray's YouTube channel.

The heaviest traffic for Ray's YouTube channel is focused a lot on his politically-themed comedy videos. I say that because the numbers speak for themselves. A good chunk of the unique views that his music videos have obtained are tied almost exclusively to the political offerings. Although he's reduced the number of politically-themed music videos in the last couple of years, nevertheless, the run of political comedy videos he released during a 2 and a half to 3 year period (2010-2013) represent the lion's share of his YouTube success.

After decreasing the amount of political comedy output Ray returned to uploading earlier video productions onto his channel for much wider exposure. As mentioned earlier the 1970 performances from the summer television series he hosted made their debut on his channel in August 2013. A performance of "Freddie Feelgood" is among the video clips that emerged and here's a 1970 performance long before CGI and other special effects became commonplace in video production...a perfect display of Ray's innovative and creative abilities...

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