August 13, 2018

Ray Stevens Both Sides CD...

I don't personally own this particular collection of Ray Stevens songs but it's a collection that I've seen on-line for a number of years. It's released on a label called Crown Records and research shows it was issued in the United Kingdom. There are several websites that differ on the actual year of release, though. Some cite 1976 and other sites give 1979 as the year of release. It features 12 songs...and as you can tell from the title, Both Sides of Ray Stevens, it concentrates on the comical and the serious in his music catalog. The first 6 recordings are aimed at the comical but in this particular collection they've included a particular song among the first 6 selections that isn't necessarily comical, humorous, or even a novelty. It's the serious, social commentary angst of "Mr. Businessman". I guess the people that compiled this collection felt that a song questioning the morals and ethics of a typical businessman was humorous or whatever but in reality it's social commentary. "Mr. Businessman" is located on this compilation as track three in between a couple of his most elaborate novelty recordings: 1974's "The Moonlight Special" and 1970's "Bridget the Midget The Queen of the Blues". The latter recording hit in December 1970 but had it's largest impact early in 1971...and ironically it had it's largest impact in the United Kingdom where it peaked in the runner-up position on the UK Pop music charts. The two recordings feature heavy use of mimicry, too. In "The Moonlight Special" Ray does his impression of Wolfman Jack (referred to as The Sheepdog) and along the way he does broad exaggerations/parodies of several high profile music acts: Gladys Knight and the Pips (referred to as Mildred Queen and the Dips), Alice Cooper (referred to as Agnes Stupor), and Jerry Lee Lewis (referred to as Jerry Joe Harry Lee Jimmy Billy).

"The Streak" is found on Both Sides of Ray Stevens as track five. Unusual for that particular recording to be found further down the track list on a compilation album isn't it? Originally "The Streak" and "The Moonlight Special" were issued on the same 1974 album, Boogity Boogity. As anyone that calls themselves a Ray Stevens fan should know already is "The Streak" is Ray's biggest selling single and biggest radio hit. The single sold millions of copies. The most reported sales figure is 5,000,000 worldwide. It had an incredible chart run on the Billboard Hot 100...by incredible I'm referring to the fact that "The Streak" was the number one pop hit in America within five weeks of it's release. This meteoric chart climb enabled the single to remain at the top for three consecutive weeks in the early summer of 1974. It also hit the music charts internationally, as well, plus it crossed over to the country music charts and hit the Top-10. "The Streak" would also, for a lot of the international market, be the last major release on Ray Stevens (excluding Canada). The lead-off track on Both Sides of Ray Stevens, "Gitarzan", comes from 1969. That particular song became an international pop hit in addition to it's million selling status in America (becoming a Top-10 hit on the pop charts). Track six is "Freddie Feelgood", a very funny novelty song from the mid '60s, where Ray vocally mimics music instruments. Since I do not own this collection I can't say whether or not the song found on Both Sides of Ray Stevens features audience laughter, as it does on the 1969 Gitarzan album, or if it's the original single release from 1966 minus the laughter which can be found on other compilation albums.

The selections considered serious on this collection reveal a couple of things. Earlier in the blog entry I mentioned that I wasn't sure of this collection's release year. However, simply by looking at the final 6 song selections we find three recordings from his 1975 album, Misty. Track seven is his country and pop hit, "Misty", from 1975 while this is followed by 1970's "Everything is Beautiful". Each of those recordings won a Grammy Award. "Misty" won for Best Arrangement accompanying a Vocalist (1976 Grammy telecast) while "Everything is Beautiful" won for Best Pop Vocal Performance- Male (1971 Grammy telecast). Ray didn't appear on the 1971 telecast because he was busy overseas on a tour (either in England or Australia) and so Glen Campbell accepted the Grammy. "Everything is Beautiful" hit both the country and pop charts...a massive pop hit and million seller...it hit the number one spot for 2 weeks on the pop chart while it spent 3 weeks at the top on the Easy-Listening chart (now known as Adult-Contemporary). In addition to Ray's performance of "Everything is Beautiful" winning a Grammy it was also a Grammy winner the same year for Jake Hess in the Best Inspirational Performance category. 

Tracks nine and ten both come from 1975: "Young Love" and "Sunshine". The fact that those two recordings, plus "Misty", all come from the same year and album it leads me to believe the compilation was released in 1976...but then again there are other compilation albums from the late '70s on Ray Stevens that stop at 1975 even though their year of release is later (1977, 1978, 1979). So your guess is as good as mine...I say Both Sides of Ray Stevens was released in 1976 due to the inclusion of "Young Love", specifically. Why do I say that? Barnaby Records released Ray's recording of the song as a single late in 1975 and so it would've been the current single from Ray early in 1976 which is the year I think this collection was released. "Sunshine", in the meantime, is the B-side of "Misty" and was not even promoted as an A-side release and so I have no idea why it was included on this collection. It's a wonderful song and in the same vein as "Misty", instrumentally, but "Sunshine" wasn't a chart hit.

The final two tracks on this collection are a pair of gospel hits, 1971's "All My Trials" and early 1972's "Turn Your Radio On". The former became a Top-10 hit on the Easy-Listening chart in addition to hitting the pop chart. It's appearance on the Hot 100 was something of a rare accomplishment for a song with such strong gospel/inspirational ties...the same held true for "Turn Your Radio On". It became a Top-20 country music hit early in 1972 and it's the title track of his 1972 gospel album. A third single from that album also peaked on the Easy-Listening chart in the Top-10 but it's not included on this collection. That recording happened to be "A Mama and a Papa". Among the selections on this collection from 1975 you won't find his hit recording of "Indian Love Call", neither.

The essay found on the back of the album contains several errors. One of them concerns his year of birth. It has his birth year as 1941 but it's actually 1939. It also states he was born in Atlanta, Georgia but he was actually born in Clarkdale, Georgia. Also, the essay mentions his hit, "Indian Love Call", and it's mentioned in the essay as if it's one of the songs on this album but it's not even part of the collection.

The 12 songs are:

1. Gitarzan
2. The Moonlight Special
3. Mr. Businessman
4. Bridget the Midget the Queen of the Blues
5. The Streak
6. Freddie Feelgood
7. Misty
8. Everything is Beautiful
9. Young Love
10. Sunshine
11. A Mama and a Papa
12. Turn Your Radio On

August 12, 2018

Ray Stevens: Nashville Walk of Fame Ceremony...9 days from now...

It's getting closer to the ceremony this coming August 21st when Ray Stevens and company (Jeannie Seely, Brenda Lee, and Ben Folds) will receive their Stars on the Nashville Walk of Fame. I wrote about this upcoming event back on July 24th when I first read about it on-line and now we're nine days away from the ceremony. The ceremony will begin at the Music City Walk of Fame Park at 11:30am Central, 12:30pm Eastern. I do believe in my July blog entry I posted 10:30am Central, 11:30am Eastern. Either I misread the time or it's since been edited into the websites I got my initial information from. Whatever the case...the date is August 21st (which falls on a Tuesday) and the time is 11:30am Central, 12:30pm Eastern. If you're in the area it's a free event so if you happen to be a fan of Ray Stevens or a fan of the other performers why not stop by and enjoy the event if you're able to?

It's suppose to be streamed live and so I'm thinking ahead and assuming that there will be video clips available later in the day or perhaps immediately following the ceremony. I've had some bad experiences with video content that's suppose to stream live...sometimes the content will not load and play but yet sometimes the video will play just fine and then, all of the sudden, just stop for whatever reason and then pick up later...creating a choppy presentation which, of course, isn't easy to follow in real-time and so, usually, I depend on video clips posted at a later time. The photo you see is from a performance by Ray Stevens at his CabaRay showroom in West Nashville. The venue is located on River Road just off Charlotte Pike on I-40. You'll see a billboard advertisement along the interstate with the exit to take so it shouldn't be too difficult to find.


I don't know how long the Nashville Walk of Fame ceremony will be...perhaps they'll spend 10 minutes on each entertainer and then have each recipient speak after their history/time-line is discussed by the emcee...so I think it'll run probably an hour; but maybe there won't be any commentary from the recipients and it'll just simply be a presentation by the emcee and then photo sessions commence featuring each holding their Star. Personally I'm hoping it'll be like other honor's that take place where the emcee is at a podium and each Plaque is revealed while the emcee tells of the recipient and then asks the recipient to speak. I knew of the Nashville Walk of Fame but I didn't know a whole lot about it's purpose. I thought it was a walkway of entertainers already elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame considering it's close proximity but I've learned a lot in just under a month. It's a walkway not exclusive to country music and not exclusive to Country Music Hall of Fame members.

For the record, Ray Stevens is not a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame but this upcoming ceremony will further acknowledge his multi-faceted career (after already having been inducted/elected to the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1980, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1980, the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and recognition as a Nashville Cat for his session work by, ironically, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010).

Ever since the news broke of the upcoming Nashville Walk of Fame ceremony there have been a number of websites that have shared the news (obviously!) and I'd like to provide some links to a couple of them. The links will take you from this particular blog...but return and click the other links as well. I'll obviously be writing a blog post on the day of the Nashville Walk of Fame ceremony...nine days from now!

GARY HAYES COUNTRY

MUSIC ROW

TASTE OF COUNTRY

NASH COUNTRY DAILY

August 7, 2018

Ray Stevens to release New Album...

Oh, yes, it's me once again...I wanted to create a separate blog entry for this bit of information rather than include it in my previous blog entry centering around 1971. In this blog entry I'm sharing a LINK to a video clip uploaded by Ray Stevens yesterday afternoon. The link reveals a brief music selection for a song that's go be on an upcoming album!

Yes...Ray revealed that there is a new album in the works and even though there isn't a time-line as to when it should be released at least he provided a video clip to get our ears excited for what's ahead. If you look carefully in the video clip you'll see Ray seated behind the producer's window. Along with the video clip (which hasn't been posted on YouTube as of this writing...it's only on Facebook) but along with the video clip there came half a dozen pictures from inside the studio.

In a couple of photo's you'll see Ray at the console...a rare visual glimpse of a recording session from within the Ray Stevens Studio. The half a dozen photo's were posted in collage form but you won't be able to get a separate image and so I used one of my computer's programs (snipping tool) and highlighted the images I wanted to save. I hope more information about this soon-to-be-released album becomes available. I have a feeling of what the upcoming album will be. In one of the recent episodes of CabaRay Nashville he spoke of an album that he hadn't started working on but one he had an idea about and based on the video clip he posted on his Facebook page it sounds like the album he made reference to on his television series is getting underway even as I type this.

Here's a screen cap of the video clip showing the musicians and that's Ray seated behind the glass in the white shirt...