August 27, 2009

Ray Stevens: Christmas Has Arrived...

Christmas has arrived...well, almost! I decided to order my copy of Ray's holiday CD, simply called Christmas, from an on-line store that was offering them for sale. I resisted it for awhile not knowing if the on-line store would actually have the CD available and it not turn into some kind of "back order" deal where you end up sending off for something only for you to learn the product isn't really available yet, but the on-line store wanted your business, so they keep quiet. I found out from a fellow Ray fan who had pre-ordered the CD that his copy arrived in the mail today...and with today being his birthday, that was a good birthday gift! He sent me a track list and a picture of the CD's resembles the design of his 1997 holiday CD, Christmas Through a Different Window. This latest CD features all-serious holiday songs.

1. Let It Snow
2. White Christmas
3. Winter Wonderland
4. Silent Night
5. The Christmas Song
6. Blue Christmas
7. I'll Be Home For Christmas
8. Deck The Halls with Teardrops
9. Jingle Bells
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

As you can see, track #8 is the only original song...non-traditional Christmas song. I was told that Ray had a hand in writing track #8. This CD went on sale on August 25th but for some reason or another neither Amazon or Ray's web-site store has it available. I was preferring to purchase it at Ray's store at his web-site but it's not been listed as available for purchase yet and Amazon the other day shown it as "not in stock". So, for now, CD Universe is the on-line store that's offering the CD. That particular on-line store is where the fellow Ray fan purchased his copy...and in addition to giving me an official song list, the ten above, he also sent a picture of it's you can see, for those familiar with his first Christmas CD in 1997, the picture below was taken during the same photo shoot.

Since the 2009 CD has officially been released, back on August 25, I'm going to post what the cover looks far as I know, this image hasn't appeared on-line this will be it's first exposure...


It's a very nice picture and one that'll become just as popular as the one from 1997.

Update: I checked Amazon and they, too, now show that it's in stock. The day it went on sale back on August 25th it had a big "not in stock" warning. Anyway...the CD is 2 days old. I can't wait to hear how Ray sings the traditional Christmas songs. I know they'll be serious but it's hard to predict the kinds of arrangements he'll use. I'll be posting my review once I get the CD in my possession. I should have the CD sometime next week.

August 6, 2009

Ray Stevens: Christmas Is Comin' Early

The word is out that on August 25 of this year...which is a few weeks from now...Ray Stevens will issue two seasonal collections on two CD's. The first collection is a re-release of his 1997 classic, Christmas Through a Different Window and the other collection, called Christmas, will feature brand new recordings. The difference being that the brand new offering will contain more traditional style holiday songs. The 1997 collection is purposely comical. So, on-line shoppers will be able to purchase the collections on August 25th, depending if you still don't own the 1997 collection. I myself will be purchasing the one entitled, Christmas. So far there hasn't been an official release of the song's that will be on the collection or what the CD cover art will look like. I came across a blog site the other day and the blogger listed 10 songs...saying those songs will be on the upcoming Christmas CD but I'll hold off putting a track list up. I'll wait until Ray's official web-site puts up more information. You'll be able to order the CD from Ray's on-line store. I don't know if there will be a pre-order availability or not at his site. I know that you can pre-order it at other on-line stores. They, too, don't offer an official track list. In the meantime you can check out his trucker CD, One for the Road, which features "Cooter Brown", a song being promoted on the Twitter web-site; or, you can check out his appearance on the Huckabee program which was uploaded onto You Tube.

August 3, 2009

Ray Stevens: The Huckabee Appearance

Ray Stevens recently appeared on the Fox News program, Huckabee, where he spoke about taxes and politics briefly before launching into a performance of "If 10% Is Good Enough For Jesus (It Oughta Be Enough for Uncle Sam)". Ray explained the reason for the song's out-of-the-blue resurrection and why he decided to re-release the song. The song was originally recorded in 1993 and was "mildly popular" according to Ray. The picture of Ray that I use to kick-off this blog is from the early 1980's. In fact, it's an up-close picture of Greatest Hits, an RCA album from 1983. By the way, that particular collection is where I heard "The Moonlight Special" for the first time.

I recall that Ray introduced "If 10% Is Good Enough for Jesus" on the 1993 edition of the Music City News Country Awards and then a few months later it was the featured song on his album, Classic Ray Stevens, on the Curb label. That particular album at the time turned out to be Ray's final studio album for Curb...for Ray would concentrate more on music video projects during the mid 1990's but in 1997 he signed with MCA Records for two albums and then signed himself to his own label, Clyde Records, and then returned to Curb Records in 2001. Ray had performed "If 10% Is Good Enough For Jesus" a few times on television back in 1993 in addition to the awards program but then he moved away from the song afterwards...I've always felt that the song went over people's heads even though the message was loud and clear.

Photobucket Classic Ray Stevens in spite of it's title featured 10 all-new recordings. As I've pointed out in other blog entries, people on-line see the album's title and assume it's a collection of previously recorded songs or a collection of re-recorded songs when in fact all 10 songs were brand-new at the time...well, except for one...Ray does a cover of "The Bricklayer's Song" which is often recorded by Irish comedy groups and artist's. Noel Murphy is the one noted for having the popular recording. Ray's version was performed/recorded at his now-closed theater in Branson, Missouri. That song and "If 10% Is Good Enough For Jesus" were both recorded at his theater.

Fast-forward 16 years later and the song's gained some new life through on-line word-of-mouth and apparently word got to Ray and his people that the song was popular with certain segments of the on-line community. So, he re-recorded the song and issued it as a digital download single several weeks ago.

Ray's appearance on Huckabee was a re-scheduled affair. Originally Ray was suppose to appear on the show around the time he appeared on Hannity's Fox News program but things came up and the appearance was postponed. Re-scheduled for August 1st, Ray appeared at the keyboard and delivered a joke about congress, tying it in with a parrot and a grandfather, and then performed the song to a rousing applause. The appearance occurred during the show's final 15 minute segment and a video of Ray's appearance is on You Tube. Search "Ray Stevens + Huckabee" and the video will show up in the search results.

All in all I felt that the appearance was excellent and the performance was great as well.

It made me wish that Ray would appear on TV more often but unfortunately there's not many major TV outlet's for artist's in Ray's generation and so they have to use the internet, more or less, to try to reach an audience. Since the internet is free from age discrimination and any artist of any age, if they put the effort into it, can reach audiences a whole lot quicker and easier on the internet than on commercial TV or radio.