March 25, 2013

Ray Stevens and the Red Hot Chili Cookoff...

Good Monday morning!! A few days ago I came across a link on a certain social media site that directed me to a Ray Stevens video titled "Red Hot Chili Cook Off". When I clicked the link I found out that the video was uploaded on March 20th. I found out about the video's existence on March 22. When I looked at the specifics of the video I noticed that it indicated the video was unlisted. So, going by that, I didn't embed the video...thinking that a few days later it would join the ranks of the listed. I was waiting for it to become officially listed but it's been almost a week now since it debuted on You Tube, with it still marked as an unlisted video, but since I've seen the video link shared on a couple of other blogs already I've decided to do the same...

Ray Stevens: Red Hot Chili Cook-Off  

The song is basically about a chili cook off and a man's experiences eating three different styles of chili in the fictional town of Jalapeno, Texas. We see Ray in casual, western-style attire...sampling from each bowl...and reacting to each. The best reaction, visually, is his encounter with a chili called Flame Thrower. There's long been what I consider an unofficial war between the chili's...there are many different kinds but there are two geographical locales that specialize in chili that leap to mind immediately and that's Texas and Mexico. The song/video gently spoofs the concept of labeling bowls of home made chili with ear catching names. Previously mentioned is Flame Thrower...the other two chili names are just as catchy. You'll have to watch the video to find out what the other two names are.

I'm sure segments of the population who relish in chili tasting or those who fancy themselves as consumers of ultra spicy, heartburn instigating food may get a chuckle while hearing the song. My mother often watches the Food Channel (or is it the Food Network?) and she sometimes watches programs that deal with people who pride themselves as being able to consume pounds of eye watering spicy food in one sitting. Ray's video/song has fun with that kind of occupation.

This being the video's 5th day on You Tube and with limited access it's managed to capture more than 3,000 views. The video perhaps may become publicly listed on You Tube on the 27th of March...which will be a week after it's debut...but there's no indication of this song being a part of some future release but I assume it will be. Time will tell...but in the meantime have some laughs while listening to and watching the "Red Hot Chili Cook Off".

March 14, 2013

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 50...

Good Thursday morning...on March 25th there will be a CD release of a compilation album on Ray Stevens titled The Rock and Roll Show. The original release, from 1971, featured 9 performances lifted from Ray's 1962 debut album for Mercury Records: 1,837 Seconds of Humor. Ray's first Top-40 single about snake oil salesman Jeremiah Peabody is all it's glory: "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills".

Since the CD won't be issued until March 25th I obviously can't say too much about any technical information such as sound quality or liner note availability and accuracy, etc. etc. I have the vinyl album of The Rock and Roll was originally released on a label called Pickwick Records. The album's cover art features an illustration of an ecstatic looking Ray Stevens above an artist's rendering of what we are to assume is Fatima from "Ahab the Arab". In Ray's left hand are two candy bars, Hershey and 5th Avenue. For those not familiar with this particular collection you'll be able to see the cover art for yourselves when you click the Amazon LINK. Hopefully on release day more information will come out on whether or not the project will have liner notes. There's no information on whether or not this will be available in Mp3.

The commercial availability of Ray's Mercury recordings from the early '60s are scarce but it seems like every 4 or 5 years Mercury or one of their subsidiaries, an Independent label, or an overseas label, will issue his early '60s recordings in limited quantity and then in a blink of an eye, without much publicity whatsoever of their availability, the recordings quietly go "out of print" once again. This leaves some fans who may not have an abundance of Ray's early '60s recordings having to track them down on eBay.

I have two record players and the main reason I purchased the first one was to hear a lot of the Ray Stevens songs I have on vinyl (oh yet another display of my zealous appreciation of Ray Stevens I bought vinyl albums and singles of Ray long before I had a record player!). The only way, at the time, to hear a lot of his 1970's and early 1980's recordings was to own the actual vinyl copies since the music hadn't made it's way to CD, and later, Mp3 yet. Even now there are still a lot of recordings of Ray that are still only available on vinyl...specifically I'm referring to single-only releases from the '50s and '60s in addition to a large collection of recordings he did for Warner Brothers and RCA (1976-1982) that mysteriously remain commercially unavailable in either CD or Mp3 format.

The Rock and Roll Show features the following 9 songs: "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills", "A Hermit Named Dave", "Julius Played The Trumpet", "The Rock and Roll Show", "Saturday Night at the Movies", "Ahab the Arab", "PFC Rhythm and Blues Jones", "Popeye and Olive Oil", and "Scratch My Back".     

March 6, 2013

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 49...

Vintage Ray Stevens fans are in for a super treat in this installment of Nostalgia Valley. I happened to come across an upload of an early '80s television appearance by Ray Stevens. A lot of people may have been thinking 1970's or 1960's when I used the word 'vintage' but let's not forget this is 2013...and the early '80s was 30 years I think it's time that the 1980's should be described as 'vintage', too.

What is this super treat? It's Ray having a grand ole time on Barbara Mandrell's television program. He appears in an exercise/jogging sketch prior to performing the exquisite love ballad "Written Down In My Heart" (a Top-40 country hit for Ray in 1982). Later on he performs a duet with Louise Mandrell on "How Sweet It Is" and later joins the cast in a gospel segment where he performs a song titled "Hotline to the Lord". The other guest on the episode is Donny Osmond.

I don't know when the episode was taped or when it originally aired but the single was part of his 1982 album, Don't Laugh Now. The upload states that the episode is from 1981 but I'd say it was 1982. I wasn't able to get a good look at the production year when the closing credits were rolling. The bulk of the credits are written in a larger front while the production year was in tiny font for whatever reason. As far as I know Ray appeared on Barbara's show twice. In one appearance he performed "Ahab the Arab", "Misty", and in a duet with Louise on "With a Little Help From My Friends". I believe that episode aired in 1981 and the one above aired in 1982. In the episode above, as a reminder, Ray performs "Written Down In My Heart" and with Louise, "How Sweet It Is", while performing "Hotline to the Lord" during the gospel segment.

Enjoy the show!