Volume Four in the 20 volume series of Pop! Goes the Country DVD's arrived in the mail today. This one, like the two volumes I wrote about in another blog entry, features Ray Stevens. This particular episode comes from 1975...35 years ago...and Ray is at his all-time best yet again. He opens the show singing "Misty" and during the interview segment he sings a cultured, classical version of "The Streak" which has host, Ralph Emery, and the other guest, Sammi Smith, in fits of laughter. Sammi was on the stage preparing for her song when the camera would pan over to her and she'd be laughing...the classical version of the song continued on to it's conclusion and then Ralph introduced Sammi who had to quickly regain her composure before singing "Which Way Do You Wanna Go?". Later, Ray sings "Indian Love Call" and it's an incredible performance. If you've never seen him perform the song in a concert setting such as this you'll be in for a treat. This marked the first time I had seen footage of him singing the song. Ray had a Top-40 country hit with the song in the second half of 1975 here in America and he also enjoyed Top-40 success with the single over in England. It was his sixth Top-40 single in the United Kingdom..."Misty" had reached the Top-5 in the United Kingdom and the Top-5 on the country chart here in America...in addition to reaching the Top-20 on the pop chart.
Sammi Smith's second song of the episode was "Help Me Make It Through the Night", which was her biggest hit. Ray performed an up-beat version of "It's Twilight Time" and in my opinion he must have been thinking about recording the song for his MISTY album because it's arranged in a similar way to most of the songs on that album. Of course, the song never made it onto that album but it's a wonderful performance nonetheless. The album hit during the first week of July 1975 on it's way to a Top-5 finish.
This episode, according to the company that sells the DVDs, lists the episode as June 10, 1975. What I don't know is whether or not that's the day it was taped or if that's the day it was aired. Whenever it was taped or aired it's a wonderful appearance...and one that shows Ray with his beard, something rare during this era of his career. As a matter of fact, Ray is clean shaven on the MISTY album...but on a compilation released that same year he's full of beard as you see below.
The finale of Pop! Goes the Country features Ray and Sammi joking around with Ralph. Sammi plays a guitar and dedicates her rendition of "Misty" to Ray...she only sings a few lines while Ralph jokingly attempts to stop her performance; after which, she pretends to be offended that Ralph was talking over her dedication. Ray sings a piece of "Everything Is Beautiful" as the credits start to roll. There are five other episodes of the show on this DVD and they're all from 1975. I bought three of the DVD's because of Ray Stevens' involvement but these programs are a must for any country music fan. On Volume Four, in addition to the Ray Stevens-Sammi Smith episode, you'll also get episodes that feature Faron Young, Carl Smith, Melba Montgomery; there's episodes with the Statler Brothers and Susan Raye; Ronnie Milsap and Charlie Daniels appear on an episode; Johnny Cash and wife, June Carter, get an entire episode devoted to themselves. Bobby Bare is featured in an episode, too.