June 30, 2009

Ray Stevens: One For the Road, Part Two

Photobucket As those who are familiar with my Ray Stevens blog entries will know, I've been awaiting the Ray Stevens truck driver CD, One For the Road, for awhile. I felt as if I would have to wait until after Labor Day before I could purchase it...but then several days ago the CD came up for sale on Ray's web-site store. A lot of Ray's contemporary projects, which include both CD and DVD, can be purchased at his on-line store.

Anyway, I went ahead and put in an order for my copy and as I mentioned in a previous blog. The CD arrived on Monday June 29th. It contains 15 songs as I mentioned in a previous blog. In the picture above that's me showing off the inside fold-out cover where the song titles are listed and the writer and publisher credits are shown. There are several songs on here published by ASCAP, which is unusual in a lot of Ray's recordings because his songs typically are affiliated with BMI. There are also quite a few "newcomers" as far as songwriting input is concerned.

The CD opens up with "Concrete Sailor", which up to this point had only been available as an MP3 at Ray's web-site store and a free download at that! Shame on those who never took advantage of the offer...as of this writing you can still receive a free MP3 download of the song if you sign up for his newsletter but with the full CD now available I'd opt for purchasing One For the Road instead. In the second picture, that's me making faces again...since Ray made a face in the picture that appears on the back of the CD, I felt like making faces was a logical way to go.

"Convoy", a song published by SESAC, was a huge hit for C.W. McCall in the mid 1970's during the CB craze. Ray doesn't use a CB effect like McCall did when talking back and fourth, making it sound like it was recorded using an actual CB...instead, we hear a vocal effect that you'd hear on a dispatcher's microphone. It's a worthy cover version, though...and Ray offers some dirty laughs at various spots throughout the recording. For those unaware, "Convoy" is a tale about two truckers: one named Pig Pen and the other named Rubber Duck.

Photobucket The third song mixes trucker lingo, CB's, and religion all into one performance. ASCAP is listed as a publisher of "The Right Reverend Road Hog McGraw". The songwriting credits go to Brent Baxter, Matt Cline, and Anthony Orio. It's quite a song that tells the story of a trucking preacher who rolls across the nation spreading salvation. The writers sample lyrics from an earlier Ray Stevens song, "The Dooright Family", and insert a familiar phrase at various times in the song.

Now, track number four will blow you away...it's an up-tempo bluesy number called "Cooter Brown". It features a prominent piano in the background...well...the usual arrangement for what some call classic R&B. It's all about an alcoholic trucker whose proud of his tattoo that states "please don't let me drive". Vic Waters is listed as the songwriter and Ray's publishing company is listed as a co-publisher. Vic is one of the new names to me among the songwriters who are typically associated with Ray in addition to the writer's of "Right Reverend Road Hog McGraw" and another song found on here, track number 10, "Never Too Late". This song is inspirational in a kind of way...the melody/arrangement makes me think of a sing-a-long 1930's pop ballad. The song is about how it's never too late to live your life the way you want. The song is another ASCAP publishing performance...and the writers are Janice Carnes, Rick Carnes, and John Barranco.

Backing up to track number six we have "Hanging Around" which is a chilling song about two women and a man. One woman's name is Sadie while another woman simply is referred to as Lady and the man involved is Tony. The sheriff's name is Grady. The song deals with murderous goings-on in a small south Georgia town. The song carries that 'deep, dark secret' vibe throughout the performance. Ray and Buddy Kalb wrote the song. Track number eleven, "Retired", may be familiar already to some. Ray originally did this song as a duet with Brent Burns. The song was written by Brent and another writer, Bill Whyte. In this performance, Ray tackles the song solo. It's a song about being retired and all of the quirks, aches, ailments, and some satisfaction being a senior citizen. The song ties in with a TV comedy Ray is shopping around called We Ain't Dead Yet. He often appears on talk-shows wearing a hat promoting the un-sold show.

"Hang Up and Drive" and "Bon Temps Roulette" are recordings from 2000 that were added to the CD due to their connection to the travel/trucker theme of the project.

Photobucket "Oh Lonesome Me" is an update...he originally recorded his version of the song back in 1975 on his Misty album. The song retains it's arrangement...sang as a slow ballad with up-tempo passages sprinkled in throughout. It's a worthy update...a song added to the CD because often times truck driver's get lonely.

"Jack Daniels, You Lied To Me Again" is an up-date, too...he originally tackled this song with a boogie-woogie flavor in 1990 but here he changes tempo and adds in a few words here and there that are missing in the original. An updated "Mary Lou Nights", a song he wrote that originally appeared on his under-rated and out of print Me album from 1983 closes out the official CD as track number 12. There are three bonus tracks...his 1992 re-recordings of: "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", "It's Me Again, Margaret", and "The Streak".

All in all it's a great trucker CD that seamlessly goes from one song to the next. As Ray often mentioned, not every song on here is a trucker song...but by and large traveling and being away from home and lonely runs rampant through a lot of the songs. There are at least two songs Ray recorded in his past that would have been great additions to this project: 1973's "Love Me Longer" about a man on the road who cheats on his wife with a married woman. 1977's "Road Widow" is about a musician on the road and because his presence at home is dead, he refers to his wife as a road widow in the song. However, those two songs were not re-recorded for this collection.

One For The Road is one for your collection.

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