Hello once more! If you are among the fans of Ray Stevens that are able to see his syndicated PBS series, Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville, then this week's episode is another spectacular show. The guest this week happens to be B.J. Thomas.
The show airs in my area every Saturday night at 8pm on KET2, a sub-channel of KET. Ray opened the show singing "Hound Dog"...with mostly an entirely different arrangement/delivery than the Elvis recording...and I suspect that Ray's recorded the song for some future project but then again perhaps the performance of the song is exclusive to the series. It's a wonderful performance nevertheless. Ray then brings out B.J. Thomas...and the conversation immediately shifts to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". Ray tells of how he turned the song down...not because he didn't like it...but because he had another song ready to come out (that song, while not mentioned, happened to be his recording of "Sunday Morning Coming Down"). Ray pulls out a ukulele and attempts to play the musical intro to "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"...B.J. takes the instrument away and hands it to guitarist Jerry Kimbrough (a long time member of Ray's group of studio musicians).
After B.J. performs "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" Ray mentions the session work he used to do and brings up being organist on a recording by B.J. in 1966 called "Billy and Sue". B.J. remarks of how much he's loved Ray's songs and makes references to "Just One of Life's Little Tragedies" and "Funny Man". Ray brings up B.J.'s recording of "Mr. Businessman"...and B.J. talks of his recording and jokingly refers to the song having at least four thousand words. B.J. mentions the reason they never issued it as a single...it had to do with not wanting to have a competing record of the same song on the market. He sings the song as Ray plays piano...but Ray sings a verse, too, and they both sing parts of the song's chorus as a duet. The performance is one of the highlights of the episode...you could tell that Ray enjoyed it and you could visibly see from their expressions how invested the two were in the performance.
Following a brief clip of a scene from Ray's 1995 Get Serious! movie (the one featuring the partially made music video of "The Day I Tried to Teach Charlene MacKenzie How To Drive") B.J. sings his biggest country music hit, "Hey Won't You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song". Strangely enough there's no mention made of B.J.'s award winning gospel career. For a period of time in the late '70s and into the early '80s B.J. had a very strong association with gospel music. In a 4 year span (1978-1982) B.J. racked up 10 gospel hits (6 of them hitting the Top-10 of Radio and Records Christian music chart) and he won 8 Grammy awards for gospel performances.
Ray closes the show in an Elvis vein...just as he opened the show...but this time it's a stripped down performance of "I Saw Elvis in a U.F.O.". I say stripped down because it doesn't feature a lot of the big production that the recording featured...but it does contain some outer space music effects. Is there such a thing as outer space music effects?? I should say Sci-Fi music effects...specifically the sound effect of the U.F.O. soaring and hovering. If you're familiar with the recording (from 1989's Beside Myself album) then you know the sound effect I'm referring to. Even stripped down performances from Ray Stevens are still entertaining because he's a natural Entertainer.
Ray has long been known as an artist that is predictably unpredictable...you can't guess or make assumptions...if he gets an out of left field idea he may run with it or just when you think you have his music direction figured out he'll do something that'll surprise you...even after 60 years as a recording artist.
Next week's episode is going to guest star Rhonda Vincent!