September 9, 2009

Ray Stevens: Vinyl Digging

This is a cropped picture of a poster that was offered in 1977 with the purchase of Ray's Feel the Music album. The full poster was a fold-out, of course. When I bought my vinyl copy of the album several years ago it wasn't sealed. It was a used copy but it's in fine condition. I have a couple of record players and sometimes I play some of my vinyl Ray Stevens. Vinyl digging, as this blog is titled, is a reference to finding vinyl albums of Ray on-line at auction sites from all over and web-sites. As in the case of finding buried treasure once I find buried vinyl treasure on Ray Stevens I proudly put it on display. Yeah, yeah, I can already hear it from critics saying "if it's buried, just leave it there". Fortunately there are those like myself who won't allow such a thing to happen. I've posted that 1977 image before, I think? The picture of Ray that you see is the one that appeared on the back of Feel The Music. The front of the album didn't feature his picture.

As you can see with the Greatest Hits features the same photo, only in black and white. This particular vinyl album features the usual material, picked almost at random. It would be my guess to say that the album was released in 1977 or 1978...judging by the material on the album. There are no selections on here recorded after 1975 which of course is a give away of when the album could have been released...1976, 1977, or even 1978.
The lettering on the album is dated...I think it would be considered kitsch? I happen to like the a nostalgic sort of way. As I've touched upon in other blogs Ray had no control over all the compilation albums that were being released on him. Small label subsidiaries often issued 2 or 3 compilation albums per year and this continued into the CD age. One of the many subsidiary labels was Polygram Records. It's in the Mercury Records family of labels. Ray recorded for Mercury during 1961-1963 and again in 1983. Polygram and other subsidiaries were known to issue collections on Ray spotlighting various songs he recorded for Mercury. BMG usually issues collections that feature a song or two that Ray recorded for RCA Records, 1980-1982. Some collections are built around 3 or 4 chart hits and the rest of the album filled out with non-hit songs that have become popular down through the years. A perfect example is the song "The Dooright Family". Ray wrote and recorded the song and it appeared on his 1980 Shriner's Convention album for RCA. The song never entered the country or pop charts in 1980 but yet it appears on several compilation albums...because it's become a popular song in his career...and it's hilarious. Another example is "Can He Love You Half as Much as I?", a song from 1986. It appears on several MCA compilation albums even though it was not a "hit song" in the conventional way. It appears on his 1987 Gold album, Greatest Hits Volume Two and Ray sings it in concert all the time.

This is a 45 RPM single of "Unwind", a pop single for Ray in 1968. It is notable for being the first non-comical song to reach the Hot 100 for Ray...his previous chart singles were novelty/comedy songs. "Unwind" was the lead off single from Even Stevens, a collection of serious songs highlighted by "Mr. Businessman", Ray's first non-comical Top-40 hit. The picture sleeve for the single comes from overseas. It was the German issue of the single. The b-side, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", borrows the familiar lyric of "for he's a jolly good fellow which nobody can deny" and applies it in an entirely different setting. This new setting happens to be a love song about love gone bad...and that brings me to this...

Barry Manilow, known for his sad love songs even though he's recorded all kinds of songs, got the parody treatment in 1979 from Ray. I did a photo trick and put Ray's 1979 single next to Barry's 1974 breakthrough album as a visual comparison to just how detailed the parody had gone. The parody was all centered around "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow", a song from Dale Gonyea. The song parodies, melodically, "I Write the Songs", one of Manilow's biggest hits. I did a blog several months ago about Ray's parody of Manilow but I can't recall if I put up those pictures or not. I know that I posted Ray's 1979 album and Barry's 1975 album for visual comparison purposes.


  1. I had Even Stevens as a kid and loved it. I'd love a torrent now, but there isn't one.

  2. The album is available as an MP3 digital album at Amazon's MP3 store. That's where I bought my copy. You can either buy the entire digital album or buy individual songs for 99 cents. I kind of have an idea what a torrent is and if it's what I think it is, if I were you, I'd buy the music instead of getting it for free.

  3. Hello,
    I am desperate to find Ray Steven's arrangement of "Turn Your Radio On". I saw that "ACountryFan" has a scan of this music. Could you please contact me at Please, pretty please?

  4. You can find the song on several MP3 digital albums on-line. "Greatest Hits" is one and another is the MP3 two album on one collection called "Turn Your Radio On" / "Misty". As I mentioned in a previous comment individual songs sell for 99 cents at Amazon's MP3 store.


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