April 22, 2016

Ray Stevens: A Collage of Gospel...

Hello all...I've put together a collage featuring imagery of Ray Stevens gospel projects over the decades. I've only focused on the major releases and so there isn't any images of budget priced reissues or anything. Ray has recorded three gospel albums in his career. His first, Turn Your Radio On, arrived in 1972. The album featured the hit title track plus several other singles that found their way onto the Top-20 of the Adult-Contemporary chart. "A Mama and A Papa" and "All My Trials" reached the Adult-Contemporary charts in the latter half of 1971 prior to the release of "Turn Your Radio On" in late 1971 which hit the Top-20 on the Country chart in the first half of 1972.  The LP hit all of the usual English speaking countries. The international pressing of the album featured the green lettering of the album's title that you see in the collage below. The LP issued in the United States had different letter coloring.

I'm in a habit of referring to the chart as Adult-Contemporary since that's the name the chart has had since the late '70s. At the time Ray's gospel singles had their chart run the survey it was called Easy-Listening.

Ray's gospel recordings on the 1972 album seen several afterlives. In 1982 the album got reissued complete with different cover art (a contemporary, bearded Ray Stevens appeared on the cover) but the recordings are the same ones from 1972. Later, in 1992, a label named Arrival released an album called The Gospel Side of Ray Stevens. It, too, contained the recordings from 1972...the same goes for a 1996 project from Curb Records titled Great Gospel Songs. Not only did it feature the songs from the 1972 album but it also included 1970's "Everything is Beautiful" and "A Brighter Day". Later still came a CD pairing Turn Your Radio On with Ray's 1975 album, Misty.

Fast forwarding to 2014...Ray releases his second gospel album, Ray Stevens Gospel Collection. It introduced Ray to a much different audience and he participated in several gospel events and gatherings...mostly centered around the Nashville area. One of the songs from the CD, "If Jesus Is a Stranger", became a popular song in his concerts and he performed it during his select television appearances. The much anticipated follow-up is due to be released in mid June of this year...titled Just a Closer Walk with Thee...it picks up where the 2014 gospel CD left off.

The upcoming CD can be pre-ordered at AMAZON. I plan on purchasing the CD from Amazon as it gets closer to release day but for those that ant to pre-order it click that link. You can click the gospel collage to see a bigger image...

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