November 28, 2015

Ray Stevens: Australian Import CD, Blog 2...

Hello one and late August I posted a blog entry centering around an import CD from Australia titled The Very Best of Ray Stevens. During that point in time there hadn't been much information about the CD beyond cover art on an Australian on-line store offering it for pre-order and a limited information product page on Amazon (featuring no cover art for the CD).

The CD had gone on sale in Australia on September 4th and then it became available on America's Amazon page the following week. Still, though, Amazon or other on-line stores in America never provided cover art or a track listing of songs. The Australian on-line stores hadn't provided a track list either. Out of curiosity I made a visit to the various Australian on-line stores and to Amazon and discovered that much more information about the CD had been made available. I don't know how long the information had been posted on-line and so a lot of this may not be breaking news but I've decided to create a blog entry about the CD regardless. In my late August blog entry I mentioned that once I find out more information about the import CD becomes available I'd post a future blog entry about it...and this is it.

The irony of offering an "import CD" at an on-line store based in America is the fact that a customer can visit an on-line store in whichever country has imported the CD to America and see their selling price and then tack on the extra cost of international shipping. If you Google the name of this CD along side the label it's on (Fanfare) you'll come across a number of Australian stores that are selling this CD. If you visit Amazon you'll see it there, too. Amazon, at the moment, is selling this import CD for $35.24 and you can visit their product page HERE. The product page itself doesn't provide a track listing but you can see the image of the back of the CD and click it for a larger view. There are 20 songs on the CD and it's singles-driven...there aren't any album tracks or B-sides among the selections. For those not aware of that terminology an album track is a song that exists on a studio album that never made an appearance on a commercially released single or wasn't issued on a promo single for radio station use only. Longtime fans of Ray's should know that "The Pirate Song" never appeared as a single-release on any 45-RPM but because of it's popularity among the fans it's become just as identifiable with Ray as "The Streak", "Ahab the Arab", or "Misty". Another example of an album track making an appearance on a Best Of collection released on Ray Stevens is "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". Ray passed on recording the song, originally, and B.J. Thomas ended up recording the song and it's B.J.'s recording that appears on the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie and soundtrack. However, around the time the movie appeared in theaters, Ray had ended up recording a version of the song and it appears on his 1970 studio album, Everything is Beautiful. Even though Ray's recording is just as great as B.J.'s and it retains the same music arrangement Ray's recording isn't the one that appears in the movie or it's soundtrack. Barnaby promoted Ray's version of the song, though...tying the song to the movie via a promo sticker that appeared on some releases of Everything is Beautiful.
I've read the fine print on the back of the CD and it lists Barnaby in the credits. This leads me to believe that the versions of "Ahab the Arab" (originally recorded in 1962) and "Harry the Hairy Ape" (originally recorded in 1963) are from the 1969 Gitarzan album. The recordings on that album have long been the property of Barnaby Records and it's family of labels even though the 1969 album had originally been released by Monument Records. The same holds true for Ray's other albums for Monument Records in both 1968 and 1969...and on this CD there are single releases from those Monument albums that routinely appear on compilation CD's such as this: "Mr. Businessman", "Unwind", "Along Came Jones", "Gitarzan", and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down". If my assumption is correct and the versions of "Ahab the Arab" and "Harry the Hairy Ape" are from 1969 then the time-line of this compilation is the same as most others: 1968-1975. Given the selling price on Amazon of $35.24 I don't know if I'm willing to pay that much for a collection of songs I already have on other collections...but it bothers me not knowing if there are liner notes or not and if so are they accurate or filled with misinformation one may pick up on the internet or through word of mouth or if it's a personal essay about Ray Stevens and his style of music and entertaining. The 20 songs on the CD are listed below. If neither "Ahab the Arab" nor "Harry the Hairy Ape" are the original recordings from the early '60s then the earliest recording is 1968's "Unwind" with the latest being 1975's "Young Love" (issued as a single early in 1976). There are a couple of notable single-releases from this period missing from this collection...each one charted Country and Adult-Contemporary: 1973's "Nashville" (Top-40 Country; Top-30 Canadian Adult-Contemporary) and 1974's "Everybody Needs a Rainbow" (Top-40 Country; Top-20 Adult-Contemporary). Neither single crossed-over to the American Pop chart, though, and that's probably the reason they've been omitted from this collection (although "Nashville" made a brief appearance on Australia's pop chart!). It's inarguable, though, that "Young Love" had a better chart impact than either "Nashville" or "Everybody Needs a Rainbow". "Young Love" didn't even appear on the Australian music charts but it's featured on this CD. It's highest chart placing happened to be on America's Adult-Contemporary chart (peaking in the lower region of their Top-50).

If anyone out there has this CD let us know if there are liner notes and if song 1 and song 3 are the original recordings on Mercury Records or if they're the 1969 re-recordings. Seeing that song 2 is 1969's "Along Came Jones" I highly suspect that songs 1 and 3 are from 1969, too.

1. Ahab the Arab
2. Along Came Jones
3. Harry the Hairy Ape
4. The Streak
5. Gitarzan
6. Bridget the Midget The Queen of the Blues
7. Freddie Feelgood
8. All My Trials
9. Indian Love Call
10. A Mama And a Papa
11. The Moonlight Special
12. Sunset Strip
13. Mr. Businessman
14. Everything is Beautiful
15. Misty
16. Turn Your Radio On
17. Unwind
18. Young Love
19. America, Communicate with Me
20. Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down


  1. I have not looked online at the CD you are discussing, but if the track listing gives playtime on the various songs, you can play detective on whether the time for Ahab the Arab matches the 1969 version or the 1962 version. Ditto for Harry The Hairy Ape.

    1. Correct! I often do that automatically so I'll know of which recording is on a CD compilation but so far the track lists that I've come across only list the song titles but not their length. Considering the CD is filled up with his Barnaby recordings it's my assumption that the Monument re-recordings of "Ahab the Arab" and "Harry the Hairy Ape" are the recordings that appear on the CD...but the assumption is based on prior compilation releases in the past.


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