May 14, 2022

Ray Stevens: "C.C. Rider" CabaRay performance...

Hello all you Ray Stevens fans!! Ray Stevens will be in concert at the CabaRay for three Saturday evenings this month. Tonight (May 14th), then the next two Saturday evenings (May 21st and May 28th). Earlier this morning Ray uploaded a performance of "C.C. Rider" from the CabaRay showroom. Some may know of that song from the Las Vegas-era concerts of Elvis Presley...but it's origins go farther back. Ray doesn't sing the entire song...what he does is he performs several lyrics, repeatedly, with a lot more emphasis on the music. It's a song that concert goers say is one of the songs he performs so it's part of his current set-list, I assume. Looking at the performance it appears as if it's the concert opener...and so apparently he's changed the opening number from "Such a Night" to "C.C. Rider". 

I was at the CabaRay in 2018 and he opened with "Such a Night". Now, obviously, every performer changes their set-list and their concert opener from time to time but isn't it funny that once you see a recording artist in person the set-list on that night tends to become a permanent fixture in your mind? 

A lot of the recording artists I'm aware of prefer opening their concerts with an up-tempo song...either one of their recordings or a well-known sing-a-long to set a mood...then, by the middle of the concert there's more ballads inserted. 

It's only my assumption but I feel that recording artists of Ray's generation, who have accumulated years of recordings, often find that there's limited slots in a set-list to insert newer songs since the audience often shows up to hear the songs they're familiar with. Ray's set-list is built around several signature songs...a few of them performed as a medley...with less than a dozen slots for new songs (specifically, songs from a current album or a song that hasn't been recorded yet but is being tested for audience reaction). Ray has never recorded "C.C. Rider", by the way, but he performs it at the CabaRay. To read about the CabaRay showroom and purchase your tickets to a Ray Stevens concert click HERE.      

May 12, 2022

Ray Stevens: 1989 performance of "Charlene MacKenzie"...

A couple of hours ago Ray Stevens uploaded a 1989 performance of "The Day I Tried To Teach Charlene MacKenzie How To Drive". The novelty song comes from Ray's 1988 album, I Never Made a Record I Didn't Like. It was one of two single releases from the album...the other single, "Surfin' U.S.S.R.", was made into a music video and become more widely known through it's appearances as a music video on The Nashville Network. The music video was on the video lists of TNN when MCA decided to release Ray's follow-up single in September. MCA released the Charlene MacKenzie single in the fall of 1988...a few months after the release of the album. Cashbox magazine, in their September 17th 1988 issue, highlighted the novelty single as one to pay attention to. The song, in case it's new to you, is about a guy who attempted to teach a deaf girl how to drive. The song's setting takes place in the late 1950s and it has an early rock and roll, peppy music arrangement. Ray sings about teaching Charlene how to drive in his 1957 Chevrolet but due to her partial deafness she mishears words and one thing leads to another. The single's B-side is "I Don't Need None of That", from the 1988 album. Ray performed "The Day I Tried To Teach Charlene MacKenzie How To Drive" on the Hee Haw 20th Anniversary television special in 1988. The performance in this blog entry, however, is from 1989 on hour long television special that aired on The Nashville Network called An American Music Celebration. At the beginning of the video you'll see Ray with a top hat in his hand and he softly tosses it off to the side...indicating that he had finished a performance of another song prior to launching into the Charlene MacKenzie song. I'm guessing that he performed "The Streak" ahead of Charlene...when Ray sang "The Streak" in concert he'd use a top hat near the end of the song. Here now is Ray Stevens, from 1989, performing "The Day I Tried To Teach Charlene MacKenzie How To Drive"...

Ray Stevens: "Feel the Music" reaches Sapphire...

Well, hello Ray Stevens fans!! As longtime readers of this fan created blog should be aware of by now I love the recordings Ray did for the Warner Brothers label in the mid to late 1970s. I like all of his songs...but I have a particular love for that era in his recording career. I've often wondered the reason for this...maybe it's because as a child growing up I wasn't as familiar with Ray's songs from that particular record label. It could also stem from, as I've discussed often, the sound of his recordings in this time period. There's a specific sound that you hear on the Ray Stevens Warner Brothers songs that you don't hear before and after he was on the label. Then again it could just be my own ear hearing things unique to that specific time period in his recording career (1976-1979). Well, in 2022, his 1977 album, Feel the Music, reaches 45. The gem stone that represents a 45th anniversary is Sapphire. This gem can come in different colors...I prefer blue. I had thought about typing out this blog entry in blue color but I decided I'd just use that color a few times. The album contains 10 songs...9 of the songs were written by Ray Stevens. There are several music styles heard on this album, too. A bluesy flavor dominates songs like "Blues Love Affair", "Junkie For You", and the title track, "Feel the Music". However, the title track starts out as if it's going to be a bluesy ballad but lyrically it's a motivational number...and the tempo picks up dramatically as the song reaches it's conclusion. All of the songs on the album are sensational, in my opinion. One thing to keep in mind, though, is the sound may be, to some, indicative of 1970s country music. I don't have a strong opinion, either way, with how the sounds in country music have changed throughout the decades but from beginning to end on this album you'll hear certain moments, if you're a student of country music of the late 1970s, where you'll know it's from that time period. 

The Warner Brothers label is the first to market Ray Stevens as a country music artist. If you were look up album reviews or write-up's in music magazines about Ray Stevens from the early to mid 1970s chances were he was being covered by Pop music and Easy-Listening music journalists and critics. When he'd cross-over to country music, frequently, beginning in the early 1970s, the country music section of weekly music magazines would feature reports on his albums and singles, too. As a legitimate cross-over artist he went decidedly country once he joined Warner Brothers in 1976. His second album for the company, Feel the Music, featured a couple of single releases. One of those releases was "Dixie Hummingbird" which reached the Country Top-40 in Record World magazine. In a 12 week run on the Country singles chart in Record World, beginning on June 11, 1977 the single reached it's peak on August 6, 1977 in it's 9th week. Ray Stevens reached the Top-40 with several single releases on the pages of Record World and Cashbox magazine which missed the Top-40 in Billboard magazine. "Dixie Hummingbird" is one of those examples of Ray having a Top-40 hit single in a publication other than Billboard. Another single release from the 1977 album arrived earlier in the year in the form of "Get Crazy With Me". This single reached the various music charts...achieving it's highest chart ranking in Record World where it peaked below the Top-40 on March 26, 1977. It was a single that had a funky sound to it. 

As mentioned the album reaches 45 this year...and in case you're wondering the front of the album is an illustration of a stereo speaker. Ray wants you to quite literally, "Feel the Music". The back of the album features an illustration of the back of a stereo speaker...and a photo of Ray Stevens is placed in a position where you'd normally find the manufacturer's warrantee taped. The illustration is so detailed you'll think you're looking at the back of a real stereo speaker. There's a gospel flavored sing-a-long on here titled "Save Me From Myself" and a slow love ballad called "Daydream Romance". The album reached the Top-50 Country Albums on Billboard and the Top-40 Country Albums on Record World...reaching it's highest peak in Record World in April 1977. If you are interested in hearing some of the songs on this 1977 album you can always look them up on YouTube. Ray has the audio of "Feel the Music" on his YouTube channel and there's also a performance of the song from the Marty Robbins television show on YouTube. If you love "Get Crazy With Me" as much as I do then you're going to love the entire Feel the Music album!! 

The ten songs on this album, not in chronological order, are: Feel the Music; Daydream Romance; Alone With You; Blues Love Affair; Dixie Hummingbird; Set The Children Free; Junkie For You; Road Widow; Get Crazy With Me; and Save Me From Myself.