December 4, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series, Part 35...

Studio album 35 came blowing into the marketplace at the start of 2008. In late 2007 Ray issued a single-only titled "Hurricane" which was available at Itunes. This was followed by a digital Mp3 album in early 2008, titled Hurricane as well. The project was available exclusively at Ray's web-store for more than half a year before it became available in the latter half of 2008 at all the on-line music shops. The project features 12 recordings in which 7 were brand new and 5 were re-recordings of songs he had did in the past.

The title track, "Hurricane", is patterned after "The Streak" in many ways. The cover photo of the CD features the 1992 cover shot of Ray from Comedy Video Classics...that particular image comes from the music video of "The Streak", by the way. Ray and Buddy Kalb wrote "Hurricane". In "Hurricane", Ray plays the part of a man caught in a hurricane as well as the reporters who are on the scene attempting to get a response or a reaction from those who've stuck around and didn't flee. Ray plays the same character he did in "The Streak". The main point of the song is a commentary on cable news in general and how it covers a natural disaster. Hurricane's and storms are also given names...and in Ray's song he tells us that they've cleverly given this latest hurricane a name that's truly memorable. Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour are spoofed as is a Jamaican news reporter. The remaining six new comical songs range from topical and political to rural and redneck.

In the redneck theme we have "Hey Bubba, Watch This!", from Buddy Kalb, which is a comical tale about southern culture and we're told that whenever you hear someone shout "Hey Bubba, Watch This!" then it means that you better watch out for anything. In the song we're told about a guy named Junior who seems to find enjoyment out of experimenting with things he shouldn't be messing around with. One disaster after another...which were preceded by the "Hey Bubba, Watch This!" battle cry. Staying with this style of humor we have "Down Home Beach", from Chuck Redden, which describes the goings-on a southern beach where the backwoods citizenry gather around to play and have fun. Buddy Kalb and Chuck Redden supplied Ray with "Bubba the Wine Connoisseur", a comical story that deals with a uniquely southern gentleman who finds himself playing the part of a first class wine taster whose descriptions of the wine he samples aren't necessarily the kind of descriptions you'd hear coming from the mouths of the more urbane wine tasters.

Doing an impression of Ross Perot, Ray tells us all about the giant "Sucking Sound". Ray recounts Perot's appearances on Larry King's CNN program and how Perot warned of the complexities and disasters of a global economy and it's impact on America's economical outlook. A flushing toilet sound effect and other comical effects enhance the recording. "The Cure" is a cute song about enema's. How can someone have a cute and fun song detailing an enema? Once you hear "The Cure" you'll find out...but it may make you stay away from soap for a couple of hours after hearing the song.

Although "Rub It In" isn't a comical song it does have it's light hearted presentation. This song has a unique connection to Ray as he was involved in the song's original release in 1971. Ray played the role of producer of the first release of "Rub It In" but the record company issued it during the wrong time of the year and it peaked in the Top-70 of the Hot 100. The song's writer, Layng Martine, Jr., had recorded it first in 1971 and Ray Stevens was the producer. Several years later an artist named Billy "Crash" Craddock recorded it and soon after it became a huge #1 hit for him. Craddock's version was produced by Ron Chancey. I assume Ray had at long last recorded the song because it fit the beach and tropical theme of several of the songs found on Hurricane.

The remaining 5 recordings are updated performances of songs that Ray originally done in the mid 1980's. The re-recordings are: "Hugo the Human Cannonball", "Smoky Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat", "The Camping Trip", "Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation", and "Stuck On You". 3 of those songs originated on his 1986 studio album.

This project marked the second time that I purchased a digital download rather than the physical CD. I do hope to add New Orleans Moon and Hurricane to my CD collection simply so I can have the CD counterpart to the Mp3 recordings. The main reason I want CD copies is because they offer a physical CD, cover art, musician credits, songwriter credits, and other things that you don't have if you simply click and purchase music and then transfer it to your music library. I'll edit this entry as well as the one for New Orleans Moon whenever I get a physical CD copy of those titles. Until then be on the look out for the next installment of the Golden LP Series as we look at studio album 36!

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