This CD is in the category of what I like to call no-frills. It isn't meant to be a slam against the collection...instead it's meant to be a positive reference. It's no-frills because it's a 12 song collection which focuses pretty much on statistically popular recordings in Ray's career instead of presenting lesser-known songs that are just as good as the hits. The liner notes are a nice touch but Ray Stevens purists and devotee's will perhaps cringe at some of the errors when it comes to single release years or lyric quotes that aren't word-for-word. It's like the author of the liner notes generalized the lyrics instead of using exact phrases. The liner notes were written, it says, December 2003...so it wasn't something dug up from decades ago and dusted off and re-printed. The CD was released in 2004 and so it's been around for awhile. I've reviewed the CD at a few on-line stores and so I'll by-pass giving it a complete review here. There are several songs that make reference to pop-culture trends and fads and fashions of the day. Three of the songs are non-comical and another tackles the suspicions the public at large has with televangelists. The collection is a must-have for any new fans of Ray Stevens and even long-time fans...it's a nicely put together compilation project...even though, of course, long-time fans should already have these songs on other collections.
What are those songs I've been writing about? Here's the 12 song track-list...
1. Jeremiah Peabody; 1961
2. Ahab the Arab; 1962
3. Harry the Hairy Ape; 1963
4. Freddie Feelgood; 1966
5. Mr. Businessman; 1968
6. Gitarzan; 1969
7. Everything Is Beautiful; 1970
8. Turn Your Radio On; 1971
9. The Streak; 1974
10. Misty; 1975
11. Shriner's Convention; 1980
12. Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?; 1987
As you can see, the song's are listed on the CD in chronological order so a listener can hear the progression in sound and vocals as Ray's career goes along. There are quite a few singles left off the collection, most notably "It's Me Again, Margaret" and the Top-20 country hit "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", both were singles during 1984-1985; his 1970 Top-5 hit in England titled "Bridget the Midget", and his 1979 Top-20 Easy-Listening hit, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" is also left off. So there were plenty of popular recordings that were left off the collection but as I said in the beginning of this blog entry, this CD is a no-frills collection that sticks to the basics and pretty much focuses on what could be considered 12 of Ray's signature hits.