April 25, 2010

Ray Stevens: Favorite Album Covers, Part 2...

Part 1 of this series was posted last year during July 2009. I've finally gotten around to supplying a part 2. It's really quite simple...all I do is post images of my favorite Ray Stevens album covers.

This 1981 album is ballad heavy and it features a couple hit songs: the title track, "One More Last Chance", and the album closer "Night Games". I've liked the album cover from the moment that I saw it. For those who may be wondering: "who's the woman?". I have no idea! The album features a couple more extra's in the background. The setting, of course, is a bar. I believe night-club is the more widely used phrase, though. This album came along during the Urban Cowboy era in country music. I know country music purists despise this era and the music but I have a fondness for it. I was raised on country music of the early and mid '80s and as a kid I wasn't old enough to really differentiate between one kind of music from another...I liked what I heard is all that I knew. Years later I learned how hated the Urban Cowboy era was after reading a lot of critical and fan-based commentary on country music as a whole. Obviously, though, I don't let what others say sway my opinion much. The back of this album shows Ray wearing the cowboy hat and grinning. Some of the songs include: "Melissa", "Pretend", "Just About Love", and "Let's Do It Right This Time".

The clever concept of Ray playing the part of a painter in my opinion is one of Ray's most inventive. On this 1983 album cover we see Ray decked out in modest attire...sweat shirt and blue jeans...looking at a painting he is supposedly painting of himself all the while having an oval mirror next to him showing us a profile. As you can see, the entire front of the album is made to look like a painting you'd see hanging on a wall in a museum. The album is simply titled, Me, and the album cover depicts this title rather strongly. The album features ten songs...almost all of the selections were written by Ray. There was one chart hit from the album but yet the promotion effort from Mercury Records was lackluster at best. I say this because during my research of Ray's career through the years I have yet to find any major write-up for this particular album. Some of the songs include: "Me", "Game Show Love", "Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee", and the chart hit "My Dad". Dale Gonyea wrote "My Dad" and C.W. Kalb, Jr. wrote "Piedmont Park". The rest of the songs were written by Ray.

This is one of my favorite album covers because of the detail. There's the stormy sky overhead and the twisty way the line is written coming out of Ray's mouth. The line is a phrase heard throughout the title track, "Hurricane". The album in fact does contain 12 comedy songs that'll blow you away. There was a redneck theme that permeated through a good portion of the songs...the album is much longer than the 12 songs would suggest given that several of the songs are well over 3 minutes in length. One song, "Bubba the Wine Connoisseur", runs more than 5 minutes. In a lot of ways "Hurricane" is a reworking of "The Streak". Once you hear "Hurricane" you'll understand what I'm talking about. "Hey Bubba, Watch This!" is a very funny song about a do-it-yourself kind of man named Junior who apparently considers himself a world-class inventor. It doesn't help matters that Junior's a nut-case. His inventions result in disaster for Bubba. "Sucking Sound" originated on this album and in it Ray sings about the work force in America and the visions from Ross Perot during the 1992 Presidential election.

From 1973 comes this Nashville album. The direction in Ray's career by this time had gone into the country direction. Ray, even today, says that he doesn't actually set out to record songs or write songs that'll fit specific music formats. He insists that he records music that he likes and that he hopes is commercial in some way. Of course, at the same time, he admits that having an attitude like that never really allowed him to become disciplined. By this I think he means that he isn't confined inside a box when he goes to record songs...some artists only want to sing one style and that's it. Ray has always been an artist that's sang just about anything. The music on this album you'd think would be wall-to-wall country, right? Aside from the title track, "Nashville", the only other song on the album to sound deliberately country is "Piece By Piece". The rest of the songs on here are arranged in a pop-country style pretty much. Ray does a funny rendition of "Never Ending Song of Love" on this album but gets dead serious on "Undivided Attention". Some other songs on the album are "Golden Age", "Love Me Longer", and the instrumental, "Float".

This is the current album from Ray Stevens. 2010's We The People shows Ray dressed as a founding father...the picture comes from a publicity still taken from the music video of the same name. The music video of "We The People" is nearing 3,000,000 hits on You Tube. The album features 22 songs of political and patriotic flavor. There is another release available which features a CD and a DVD...the DVD features four music videos. The same picture of Ray appears on each release. I like the album cover because it shows Ray in costume...most of Ray's recent releases feature him in stage clothes. This is the first release in awhile to show Ray in costume which used to be something of a tradition on his album covers. Also it showcases a contemporary picture of Ray...some of the recent releases dig into the archives and use past publicity pictures of Ray on the album covers. The 2008 Hurricane CD, for example, used a 1992 picture of Ray taken from Comedy Video Classics. Some of the songs on We The People include "Caribou Barbie", "Obama Nation", "Come to the USA", "The Fallen Ones", and "Throw the Bums Out!".

I once had this album cover as my desktop background on my computer. This picture of Ray was used as a publicity picture on and off in the late 1980's. This collection features songs at random from Ray's MCA years. The CD was released in 1994 and it features 12 songs...four songs from each of the following years: 1984, 1987, and 1989. It's anyone's guess why MCA chose those particular years to highlight but all 12 songs that were selected are great. Also, they're among some of the longest songs Ray recorded during that time period. "Erik the Awful" is 4 minutes, 34 seconds. "Gourmet Restaurant" is 3 minutes, 45 seconds. "Your Bozo's Back Again" is 3 minutes, 51 seconds. Other songs include "I Saw Elvis in a UFO", "It's Me Again, Margaret", and "Doctor, Doctor Have Mercy on Me".


  1. Hi. I was just wanting to know how rare is a 1979 Ray Stevens album called "The Best of Ray Stevens"? It was made by Imperial House. Please tell me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I'd have to say it's incredibly rare given that it's label would be considered an Independent or a subsidiary at the very least and considering that it was never re-issued and it's since gone out of print. That particular album's picture of Ray is one of the ones that I've often considered one of my favorites.

    However, some would say the material contained on that collection is material that can be easily obtained on a lot of other modern-day collections issued on Ray Stevens and they'd say the 1979 LP isn't a much sought after collection...but having said all of that it indeed is a rare/obscure release even if the songs aren't so rare or obscure among Ray Stevens fans.

  3. The 1970 best of Ray Stevens cover was by Skip Williamson of underground funnies fame....FYI

  4. Thanks for the comment! Originally I over-looked the artist's name as I often concentrated on the illustrations themselves...but yet there his name is written next to the illustration of Ray Stevens: "Skip Williamson".


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