Welcome to part 25 of the Golden LP Series...we're up to 1988 and the twenty-fifth studio album from Ray Stevens. This particular release contains 10 songs, five per each side of the album. There were only two single releases from this LP although I feel there should have been a couple more lifted from the album.
In an unusual twist, Ray delivers a performance with a raspy, hushed, southern-rock zeal on "Blood and Suede", a humorous song with big production about a wreck that happens in Southern California between a rock singer and a drunk driver. If all this wasn't emotional enough we add adultery to the mix. It's a very unsuspecting song...it will take repeated listens to take in everything that's going on in this melodrama. The album closes with a jewel of a song in "Old Hippie Class Reunion". This is a very funny song playing on all kinds of stereotypical imagery and phrases that have been associated with hippies down through the years. It's one of those few recordings where you don't hear Ray's natural voice at all. He delivers the song in a laid-back tone with a mix of Bob Dylan added in. Ray performs two hippies at their class reunion...the laid-back hippie and a gruffer voiced hippie. Vocally we're to assume that the hippie with the laid-back voice is thin while the gruff, throaty voiced hippie has some weight to him. He used the same gravelly voice on 1987's "Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty".
In conclusion, studio album 25 in the career of Ray Stevens could be considered more daring in terms of humorous content. Never before on a Ray Stevens album had there been as many of what I call "song sketches" like there are on his 1988 LP. How would studio album 26 compare? That particular LP appeared in 1989...it was a side by side examination in song and personality of an artist who'd not recorded many non-comical songs over the last 6 years...was he about to? Studio LP 26 answers those questions and more...so be on the lookout for my next Golden LP Series commentary!