May 14, 2021

Ray Stevens: Nouveau Retro in One Week...

I've been waiting for months to open a blog entry with this eye catching album cover. Yes, yes...I could've posted this image in any number of blog entries if I wanted...but I decided to wait until it got closer to release day before using it. I'll be posting it more and more as it gets closer to May 21st...for that is when Nouveau Retro (What's Old Is New Again) is released. It'll be the fourth in a series of digital albums from Ray Stevens. His current digital album, Slow Dance, is bouncing all over the Top-100 Country New Releases list on Amazon. The baby on the cover is Ray...from his personal collection. The photo's appeared before. In the television special, The Life and Times of Ray Stevens, which aired on The Nashville Network in 1998 the photo appeared on-screen for several seconds. The photo is in Ray's memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville, from 2014. The rubber ball has designs of a camel all over it. The camel's been part of Ray's life seemingly since childhood. This digital album, like the three that preceded it, contains 12 recordings. As of now, obviously, we have no idea which song from the album will be promoted on Ray's social media. Ray likes to pick one or two songs, overall, and post them on his social media pages for extra attention. The songs get uploaded by Curb Records onto YouTube on release day...and for those that want to purchase the music it'll be available on Amazon and other online sites. 

In June, don't forget, all four of the digital albums will be released in CD format and placed in a box set called The Iconic Songs of the 20th Century. That box set's release date is scheduled for June 18th. Some of the songs on this Nouveau Retro digital album are "Earth Angel", "Blue Moon", "April in Paris", and "Cry Me a River". Ray also features some updated songs from his own career on this particular digital album. On Slow Dance he brought back a song he'd previously recorded called "Answer Me, My Love" but with a new arrangement. 

On Nouveau Retro he's bringing back several songs he previously recorded: "Young Love", "Talk to Me", and "Indian Love Call". I don't know if he'll keep the same arrangements from when he originally recorded them or if he'll do them completely different. Those three songs are tracks 7, 8, and 9 on the digital album. There's a medley of "Always Chasing Rainbows" / "Over the Rainbow" which closes out the album. Ray had previously recorded a full length version of "Over the Rainbow" on his 1975 Misty it's going to be fun discovering if he's re-arranged his own arrangements of his previously recorded songs or if he's kept his arrangements the same. I can't wait to hear all of the songs and write a review of it. I especially can't wait to get my hands on the box set next month!!

May 11, 2021

Ray Stevens calls Tony Orlando's Radio Show...

Hello one and all...this past Saturday night Ray Stevens called in to Tony Orlando's radio program. He hosts a 2-hour radio program on WABC in New York (10pm - 12am) called Saturday Nights with Tony Orlando. I became aware of this show just this past Saturday when I seen a promo on social media about it. As a big fan of Ray Stevens that's what caught my I listened to the show Saturday night online. I held off writing a blog entry about Ray's guest appearance because I didn't know if Ray would be posting about it on his own social media pages. There was no advanced publicity for Ray's guest appearance except for the promo on Tony Orlando's social media pages. Well, a couple of minutes ago, Ray uploaded a brief conversation from the interview. Since I was waiting for some kind of mention of the interview to surface on Ray's social media before writing a blog entry I'm now going to share the interview in this blog entry. The image below is just a publicity photo...clicking it won't take you to the podcast. The link to the interview is in the next paragraph.

Ray uploaded a conversation pertaining to a month long tour that he and Tony Orlando, and several others, were on in 1961. The tour, according to their recollections, was virtually non-stop the entire month. I came across an advertisement from October 20, 1961 showing this tour making a stop on the Iowa Danceland show. The Danceland advertisement shows Ray Stevens, Tony Orlando, Ral Donner, Janie Grant, and Bobby Vinton appearing that night. The upload on Ray's Facebook page is less than 2 minutes but the interview itself is more than half an hour. Tony's topic during the May 8th radio show was Singers and Songwriters. You can listen to the interview by clicking HERE

The interview is lively...Ray has frequently referred to Tony as Mr. Shyness as an ironic reference to Tony's outgoing personality. Tony plays several songs of Ray's during the interview...including 1968's "Mr. Businessman" and 1975's "Misty". You'll hear Ray speak of how elated he happened to be in the 1990s when Comedy Video Classics and several other VHS tapes became top sales hits...proving his instincts correct...and leaving the major record labels in shock since they passed on his direct-mail experiment. Ray also sounds as if he was slightly insecure while on tour with Tony Orlando in 1961...watching Tony walk out on stage and sing love ballads whereas Ray sang "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills". Tony attempts to recite the full title of the song and almost makes it...the full title is "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills".

In a career spanning 60-plus years there's no way to cover everything...but the signature hits are covered and then there's talk of contemporary events. Ray speaks of the CabaRay and how he's hoping to get the showroom up and running in the fall but a lot of it will also depend on the people feeling safe to attend indoor events again. There wasn't any talk of his current recordings or the upcoming Box Set next month...I guess he's saving the main publicity for when the box set arrives. Tony closed the interview by thanking Ray for 60 years of friendship.

May 10, 2021

Ray Stevens: "Slow Dance" returns to Amazon's Top-100...

Hello all once more!! The current Ray Stevens digital album, Slow Dance, had been off the Amazon Best Selling New Releases Top-100 digital album list for a couple of days...when I checked that list about 20 minutes ago I seen that Slow Dance has returned and as of this writing it's within the Top-40 of the Top-100. All three digital albums that Curb Records has issued on Ray this year have made an appearance on this Amazon list. In less than 2 weeks the fourth digital album will be becomes available on May 21. Nouveau Retro, based on the song selection, appears that it will be a sequel to Slow Dance...but we'll have to wait and hear for ourselves to know if the arrangements of the songs on Nouveau Retro mimic what's on Slow Dance. Earlier today on his Facebook page Ray uploaded an audio clip of "Make Believe / It's Only Make Believe". The medley is track number three on the Slow Dance album. The first part of the medley, "Make Believe", originated in 1927 and is tied to the musical, Show Boat. A commercial recording of the song arrived in 1928. The recording was from Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra featuring Bing Crosby as the vocalist. "Make Believe", given it's late '20s origin, is often a song that shows up on albums of showtunes. A showtune, for those curious, is a song that originates in a musical. The song's writers are Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, II. The second part of the medley, "It's Only Make Believe", was written by Conway Twitty and Jack Nance. The song was a huge hit for Conway in 1958 and into 1959...hitting number one on the pop chart in America and hitting number one in more than 20 other countries. Ray re-arranged the song to musically fit the sound of Slow Dance and he changed the phrasing to fit his own delivery. Ray didn't do any Conway growl or attempt to mimic Conway's legendary recording.  

Those wanting a copy of Slow Dance can purchase it directly from Amazon by clicking HERE. Curb Records has uploaded all of the audio clips onto, for those that want to listen there, just go to YouTube and search for Ray's name and the album, Slow Dance, and all the audio clips will show up in the search results.

Now, of course, since I've mentioned the audio clip of "Make Believe / It's Only Make Believe" I'm going to embed it below...