May 31, 2013

Ray Stevens visits Fox News, June 1st...

Hello the title of the blog entry indicates, Ray Stevens will be appearing on the Fox News Channel tomorrow, June 1st. The appearance is scheduled to take place at some point during the 12pm EST hour on the America's News Headquarters program. The news of the appearance was released in the latter half of Thursday and by the time I had returned to the computer it was well past 11pm and so I decided to make mention of the Saturday appearance this morning.

There is much more about this from Absolute Publicity, the company that represents Ray.

His appearance tomorrow, as you'll read about in the link, deals with the various politically driven music videos he's issued on You Tube since December 2009. The unique view totals, according to the news release, have eclipsed 20,000,000. The accomplishment of this is noteworthy when you consider that the political music videos are seen as topical...but conventional wisdom would have you believe that anything topical has a short shelf life and therefore becomes irrelevant once the topic at hand loses priority to something else. The fact remains that Ray's "topical" music videos continue to attract views, clicks, and shares to this day and I share my opinion as to why this is happening further down the blog. While briefly looking through some of the tweets about Ray I saw links posted to "Obama Budget Plan" and I often find links to "Obama Nation" and "Throw the Bums Out!" too.

Often, political music in general are nostalgically placed in the late '60s/early '70s time frame. Also true is the fact that most artists who perform politically driven songs, for the most part, are politically liberal and therefore their music is skewed to please a liberal audience. Also true is most news outlets, both on television and on-line, are more likely to embrace political songs that cater to a liberal message of some kind.

Ray Stevens, who for some came out of nowhere in 2009, is one of the few artists that have broken through in a big way over the last several years with political music videos promoting the Tea Party, a smaller Government, and fiscal responsibility. These political issues aren't 'topical'...they're mainstays of a political message. The names of politicians certainly change but rarely do their methods and goals change. Therefore, in my opinion, Ray's political songs will be able to continue to entertain hundreds of thousands of people for months and years....which is exactly what's taking place now.

May 28, 2013

Sing a song of Ray Stevens, Volume Two...

One can never truly get enough Ray Stevens. In my previous blog entry, which came across more like a brief history on single releases, I mentioned that promo singles often featured the same song on both sides of the single. This is the A-side of "Love Me Longer", a wonderful recording from Ray originally found on his Losin' Streak album of 1973. The record company placed the Stereo recording on the A-side while on the B-side contained the Mono recording of the song. Mono recordings, as compared to Stereo, well, there's really no comparison. Once you hear two songs, the same recordings back to back, but one was released in Mono and one in Stereo, you'll prefer Stereo. To my ears, Mono recordings sound as if the artist is singing through a cardboard box. Their voice sounds compressed and lethargic. "Love Me Longer" didn't reach the country or pop chart, which was a shame, but as I remarked in other blogs the Losin' Streak album came between a string of albums from Ray that featured quite a few Top-40 pop and country hits. In addition to Losin' Streak in 1973 there was another release that same year from Ray titled Nashville. The Top-40 title track certainly brought attention to the LP...a year earlier he had issued the highly successful Turn Your Radio On LP. That album featured not only the hit title track, which reached the Top-20 on the country charts, but it also featured two Top-10 Easy-Listening hits from the latter half of 1971, "A Mama and a Papa" and "All My Trials". Following the releases of Nashville and Losin' Streak in 1973 Ray emerged with "The Streak" in early went on to sell more than 5,000,000 copies worldwide. The album issued later on in 1974, built around "The Streak", was titled Boogity-Boogity and it featured a future single release, "The Moonlight Special", a hilarious spoof of a late night television show from the '70s titled The Midnight Special.

Sing a song of Ray Stevens...

Single releases, not necessarily album releases, played a big role in the amount of sales racked up by Ray Stevens. This can be said for a wide variety of recording artists through the decades but if one looks at the earliest releases from Ray you'll notice that they were pretty much all singles. Album releases really didn't really become important until, of course, artists started selling much more albums than singles. Music historians often cite the late '60s as the era in which sales of albums and the importance of albums started to become appreciated even though albums (LP's) had been around for many years. For some, mostly those consumers in the late '60s, albums were meant to be complimentary to a current single release. By complimentary I mean that a single was in large part suppose to be part of an on-going storyline throughout the album and the thinking was if you purchase the album you'll get to hear more songs in the same vein as the single. LP purists, as I like to refer to them as, insist that an album follow a similar pattern or that each song has some sort of tie with another and that there shouldn't be a series of unrelated songs with varying tempo's. An overused expression by music critics, mostly purists, is what's referred to as "an uneven album". If you read many critical essays you may see that phrase come up a lot.

Albums were equally referred to as LP's and depending on who you ask, they still are. LP stood for "long playing". In the music industry there is also something called an EP which stands for "extended play". An EP was typically a single with more than two songs but fewer than six. One side of an EP may have 2 songs and the other side have 3 or each side may have 3 songs. A traditional single, a 45-RPM, typically had a song on side one and another song on side two. A promo single may have the same song on both sides. In the single above from 1969 they use the cover photo of Ray's 1968 album, Even Stevens. This particular single from Ray hit the Top-30 on the Hot 100 pop chart in 1969 but it's from the Gitarzan comedy album. "Along Cme Jones" and "Yakety Yak" had both been hit recordings by one of Ray's musical influences, The Coasters. You should be able to find Ray's 1972 performance of "Along Came Jones" on-line. If you look up the song's title and Ray's name it should be one of the first results that show up. The performance comes from the television show, Hee Haw.

May 26, 2013

Ray Stevens asks about Love...

In the last week or so Ray Stevens has uploaded several music videos from his 1995 movie, Get Serious!. I've mentioned/included some of the videos in the last couple of blogs. I'm sure most of you have seen this on the actual movie and I'm sure, by now, you've come across it on-line if you've watched any number of his other music videos. This happens to be the official music video of "Can He Love You Half as Much as I?". It's a love song with comical overtones. The video itself features Ray in several roles...and for those who aren't aware of why he's wearing a chicken costume that means you hadn't seen the movie.

That particular song, like most of the songs on the 1995 movie, come from Ray's vast catalog of recordings. "Can He Love You Half as Much as I?" originally came along in 1986, a full nine years before the music video made it's debut.

Ray's uploaded a couple of other clips from the 1995 movie since my previous blog entry. This time around the clips include a little bit more footage from the movie rather than a stand alone music video. A music video of "The Woogie Boogie", a song from 1989, was filmed for the project and it's featured below...

A scene between Ray and fictional Damien Darth was also uploaded. This scene sets up the overall storyline of the entire movie. It begins with a cameo appearance by Chet Atkins (one of several cameo appearances by Ray's music industry friends). Ray enters the scene dressed as Gitarzan as he had just wrapped up shooting the 'music video'...

Get Serious!, for those who didn't know, included the official music video of "Ahab the Arab" which Ray uploaded on You Tube a few years ago. The 1995 music video can be seen HERE. It's obtained more than 260,000 views since it's You Tube debut in July 2009. The description states that the video could be found on the DVD project titled The Complete Comedy Video Collection. At the time, Get Serious! was still only available on VHS and out of print. "Ahab the Arab" closes out the Get Serious! movie. For those who want to add Get Serious! to your collections it's available at the moment at Ray's web-store. Simply visit his web page,, and click the Store section.

May 23, 2013

Ray Stevens: Get Serious! on DVD...

I've written several blogs over the last several years about Ray's 1995 movie, Get Serious!, and I saw that one of the blogs I wrote back in 2010 has gotten quite a lot of traffic lately. That particular year happened to be the 15th anniversary of the home video's release and I'm sure that's why I wrote that blog entry. I didn't go back and read what I had written, though, but I'm sure the reason I wrote that particular entry was due to the movie's anniversary.

The movie had long been out of print...and the only available copies that shown up for sale were in VHS format. This is great if you still have a VCR in working condition. I have a VCR that's in pretty good shape and almost all of my VHS tapes are in good to great shape as well but of course I also have a DVD player and a boatload of DVD's...but I still have the VHS tapes I bought. I purchased the VHS copy of Get Serious! when it was still a brand new release in the latter half of 1995. I've posted images of my showing off the VHS tape before...I may have posted images of it in the 2010 blog entry I made a reference to in the opening paragraph.

The movie, Get Serious!, is the story of a maniacal music executive who envisions comedy artist Ray Stevens as a master at opera and Broadway (which goes against his commercial successes). When Ray refuses to go along with the executive's plan, the executive throws a fit and plot's Ray's downfall by labeling him 'politically incorrect'. As all of this is going on Ray attempts to make his way through a sea of protesters. Jerry Clower, in a supporting role as Ray's manager, helps Ray move through the crowd. This scene is in super slow motion. Ray, perhaps in a nod to Vaudeville and classic comedy in general, slips on a banana peel and passes out. He wakes up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The first thing he sees is an overly zealous Calcutta Indian rug seller (played by Ray) and this encounter eventually leads into the movie's second music video, "The Woogie Boogie". The movie's first music video, "Gitarzan", opened up the movie as we see a flashback sequence of a young Ray practicing the piano and his instructor warning a young Ray to be serious with his music.

Ray, along with several others, play multiple roles in the movie.

The movie is a blend of music, adventure, fantasy, satire, and mockery. The music is a crucial part of the film as two plots against Ray play out independently of one another but merge toward the end of the movie with comical results.

One plot revolves around the music executive and his group of yes-men on a nationwide manhunt for Ray. He walked out on his contractual obligations when objecting to going serious. Another plot revolves around the fictional characters from Ray's comedy songs turning out to really exist and they are on an entirely different kind of pursuit. The satirical elements in the movie come from the messages about the music business and political correctness that are sprinkled throughout the movie. Obviously the adventure aspect comes from Ray and a former lover, Charlene MacKenzie, on the run from Tennessee to Florida. They take to the road with a yellow car given to Ray (in the movie) by the Shriners as a thank you for his charitable work and creating awareness for their hospitals. Charlene MacKenzie is portrayed by Connie Freeman while the overly enthusiastic and pompous music executive, Damien Darth, is portrayed by Michael Airington. The vocals of Airington are based on Paul'll notice it right away.  

Anyway...I plan on purchasing the Get Serious! DVD in the not too distant future. I have no idea if the DVD will include, as a bonus feature, the companion documentary titled Ray Stevens Made a Movie?? Get Serious!!. Once I purchase it and it arrives I'll be able to answer that a lot more accurately. However, based on the DVD's description located HERE it doesn't indicate that the documentary is part of the release. That link takes you to the DVD item page at Ray's web-store.

May 19, 2013

Ray Stevens brings us The Dooright Family!!

I have one of the funniest Ray Stevens songs to spotlight in this particular entry. The hilarious story of "The Dooright Family" is a classic from the mid-point of Ray's lengthy music career. The song was never a gigantic radio hit or anything but shrewd placement of the song by numerous record labels, both domestically and internationally, on a wide variety of compilation releases has made the song familiar to many latter day fans of Ray Stevens who perhaps otherwise would never have known of it's existence. The album it debuted on in 1980 has long been out of print and hadn't seen the light of day on CD or Mp3.

I've complained numerous times about the lack of commercial availability of Ray's RCA years (1980-1982) on this blog and elsewhere but for now, and maybe forever, the RCA songs will never become available for a new audience to discover. The only chance to hear an abundance of the early '80s period in Ray's career is to track down the vinyl albums on eBay. He recorded three studio albums for the label between the years of 1980 and 1982. The label issued a Greatest Hits project on him in 1983. Two years later they issued an eight song compilation titled Collector's Series. Given that the 1985 release is RCA material exclusively I consider it to remain an absolutely vital project given how scarce his early '80s recordings happen to be.   

The debut album for RCA was titled Shriner's Convention. The title track reached the Top-10 on the Country Singles chart. The album itself reached the Country Album Top-10. The "Shriner's Convention", as well as "The Dooright Family", became music videos in 1995 when they were featured as part of Ray's direct-to-video movie, Get Serious!.

The music video of "Shriner's Convention" had been uploaded onto You Tube in 2009 and has gotten more than half a million unique views. Meanwhile, "The Dooright Family" had remained exclusive to the movie until a couple of days ago. "The Dooright Family" official music video be seen HERE. There are a few lyrical changes in the 1995 recording but the overall feeling of the song and it's storyline remain the same. The three studio albums that Ray recorded for RCA are: Shriner's Convention (1980), One More Last Chance (1981), and Don't Laugh Now (1982). It was during this RCA period that Ray became involved in the soundtrack of the Cannonball Run movie. He performed the movie's theme song, "Cannonball", as well as the love ballad, "Just For the Hell of It".  

While looking through the archive section of this blog I came across an entry that I wrote back on July 1, 2009. The entry had mostly to do with the 40th anniversary of Ray's 1969 recordings. I included a picture sleeve of the "Have a Little Talk With Myself" single and then I moved into discussion about 1970's "Everything Is Beautiful" but the actual title of that entry focused on a magazine titled Challenge and the CD he had out at the time, One For the Road. You can read that particular entry HERE.

May 16, 2013

Ray Stevens and Blue Cyclone...

Good Thursday morning already! It's as if Ray's making up for his down time as not one, not two, but three music videos have been officially uploaded to You Tube. The videos come from a couple of VHS/DVD releases from the early 2000's that the public at large may not be as familiar with. The first video is The Blue Cyclone, Part One and once you watch it click this The Blue Cyclone, Part Two link. Obviously, though, once you open the link to the first video you can easily navigate to part two of the video. "The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone" came along at a time when wrestling had become enormously popular with a general audience. The concept of wrestling goes way back but it wasn't until the 1980's, the mid '80s specifically, that wrestling had become something of a phenomena. Acronyms like WCW, WWF, and WWE were soon to become as familiar as any number of broadcast networks. Wrestling boasted it's share of stars, too, which you can read about on-line. Hulk Hogan was the big star in wrestling...becoming iconic both physically and in performance...the tearing off of his popular yellow shirt during interviews was but one visual feature that he became famous for and who could ever forget the whole Hulk-a-mania craze? Wrestling, of course, still carries on but it's kind of drifted back into niche programming once more but if you happened to have been a child or teenager in the 1980's then you are well aware of how much wrestling impacted a lot of television programming and how much in the mainstream it was. Hulk Hogan and friends even appeared on their own Saturday morning cartoon show.

"The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone" tells the story of an encounter with a wrestler during a chaotic chain of events at a wrestling match. In the song Ray plays the part of a man who gets beaten up by The Blue Cyclone, one half of a tag-team wrestling combo. Ray's at the matches with a friend...the friend instigates the fight but he disappears before the Cyclone can come over and take action. Part 1 ends as Ray's being taken to a hospital. Throughout Part 2 Ray seeks revenge and he enlists the help of his fickle friend who in turn enlists the help of two weight lifters. Ray and the guys track down the Cyclone at a wrestling club/bar and history repeats itself as Ray's friends vanish while he's threatening the much stronger and violent Blue Cyclone with bodily harm. I'll go ahead and stop all can watch the videos to see all the hilarity for yourselves.

Ray's comedy recording, released as a single in 1986, reached the Top-50 on the Country music charts. The single release edited the full two part story into a concise and compact story. The edited version appears on the 1987 Greatest Hits, Volume Two collection. The full 2-part version appeared originally on 1985's I Have Returned.

Speaking of that LP, the music video of "The Haircut Song" was uploaded on You Tube around the same time as "The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone" the other day. Whereas the Cyclone video detailed both parts of the story, "The Haircut Song" spotlights the single release which edited out the second barber visit. In the video we have Ray visiting a Montana barber who sees himself as a macho man and this is followed by a visit to a barber down south that cuts hair inside a shop that looks like a church. The part of the song that was edited out featured a visit to a Los Angeles barber who dressed in Gothic attire. This barber was into punk rock and according to the song gave Ray a wild haircut but also stuck safety pins in his face. It would've been wildly hilarious if this section of the song was part of the music video but it isn't. You can watch "The Haircut Song" HERE.

A music video uploaded hours ago, "Erik the Awful", originally was part of an experimental home video where live action Ray performed in front of illustrated backgrounds. Two music videos with this same style became huge on You Tube: "Osama Yo' Mama" and "Hello Mama"; but the "Erik the Awful" video hadn't been released on-line by Ray until now. Isn't it ironic, as it was pointed out in the You Tube comment section for this video, that we currently have a professionally awful Attorney General that shares the same name as our Viking? Anyway, here's "Erik the Awful"...

May 10, 2013

Ray Stevens performs "Thank You"...

It's gotten a little more than 2,000 unique views since it's upload on You Tube and the video I speak of is the live performance of "Thank You", the patriotic song that's been a part of Ray's concerts for a period of years now. Ray did a music video of the song a number of years ago and it's been quite a success on You Tube since it's debut there a few years ago...capturing more than 450,000 unique views so far. While the music video is stirring and unforgettable once you see it, the live performance is even more emotional, and for a song like "Thank You", a live performance rendition is a perfect companion to the official music video.

Here is the music video, uploaded onto You Tube in January 2010...

In the audio recording above Ray sings pretty much the whole song while in the concert video he changes tempo and delivers the song as a narrative combined with singing. This concert performance comes from the DVD that I've written about several times, Patriots and Politics, which you can still purchase at the Ray Stevens Web-Store. You can purchase that DVD and get a free copy of his book, Let's Get Political, and a flag pin for only a limited time HERE. It's being offered as a Memorial Day special and so my guess is the offer will only be good through Memorial Day and so if you come across this blog entry after the holiday then chances are the link will not work and the special will have expired by then.

The DVD, by itself, has the same selling price but with this special offer you'll also be getting the book, which sells for $10.00 at his store, for free.

May 9, 2013

Ray Stevens speaks of Illegal Immigration...

Good late afternoon fans of Ray Stevens! I just now came across a fairly recent interview that Ray gave regarding the subject of illegal immigration. The interview is about three and a half minutes in length, commercial free of course, and you'll be able to hear Ray give his thoughts on illegal immigration and more specifically "Come to the U.S.A.". The web-page has an embed of the music video for those out there who still haven't seen it yet. To date the video's gotten 6.3 million unique views during it's 3 year life span on You Tube. I've embedded the video once more, too.

You can listen to the interview HERE. If that link doesn't open up to the audio clip then you can always visit the site's main page HERE.

For those who frequent eBay there have been a few obscure items come up for sale on Ray Stevens lately. I've got most of the items but I sometimes like to point out if something becomes available that I've written about. The cassette tape of his 1980 album, Shriner's Convention, is once again being offered for sale. You can read about it HERE. From the same year, 1980, comes a magazine called Country Song Roundup. I've written about this before but it's become available again on eBay. The issue features Ray on the cover with a story tease about how he's more than meets the ear. You can find out about this HERE. Staying in this same time frame we have the LP version of Collector's Series. This project was released on RCA and featured just 8 selections (4 per side).

Ray's RCA catalog, as I've mentioned numerous times, is tragically under-rated and with the exception of at least songs the music's been out of print for more than 2 decades. The LP spotlights the years of 1980, 1981, and 1982 and can be found HERE. The two songs from Ray's RCA period that often show up on compilation releases are "Shriner's Convention" and "The Dooright Family", both from 1980.

May 2, 2013

Ray Stevens has a Guilt For Christmas...

Welcome to the month of May! I ended up taking a hiatus during the month of April from this particular blog because there wasn't much Ray Stevens news or activity to comment about. Ray emerged with a new music video yesterday titled "Guilt For Christmas". So far the video's gotten a little more than 400 views. The video is publicly listed. In late April, Ray uploaded the video for "The Pirate Song". The video's a classic but it hadn't been officially released to You Tube until April of this year. So far the video's gotten 2,614 views.

The music video that was uploaded in March, "Red Hot Chili Cook-Off", was originally an unlisted video on You Tube. It's publicly listed now and as of today it's gotten 23,477 views!

Obviously this isn't the holiday season but "Guilt For Christmas" speaks of a much larger topic than the actual holidays. It's nice to see a visual and an alternate vocalization not found on the audio recording. The song first shown up on his Christmas Through a Different Window release.