September 26, 2013

Ray Stevens 2007 CD...

Yesterday evening I checked my mail box and the item that I ordered from the Ray Stevens store had arrived. I had purchased 2007's New Orleans Moon and the first thing I noticed when I opened up the CD's case is that there is no picture of Ray. Obviously I knew that the image on the front of the CD shown the New Orleans night life but all this time I had thought Ray's picture perhaps appears on the back of the CD or at the very least inside the fold-out sleeve but, surprisingly, his face doesn't appear anywhere. I had the songs on my previous computer from the time I had bought the digital download but I never had a physical copy of the CD until now.

The Fall Clearance Sale at Ray's store is still going on. It lasts through September 30th and you can visit Ray's store by way of his official web-site or by clicking HERE to visit the store directly. There's a 'free gift' being sent with every order. I don't know if the gift is the same for each order or if every order receives a different free gift and so I'm hesitant to state what came along, for free, with my order just in case it isn't the same as someone else.

The unique views for the latest on-line music video from Ray Stevens, "Nashville", is a little more than 2,000 at 2,151 and climbing. The video is great but you all don't need to just take my word for it. I assume those that are reading this have either already seen the video by now or have heard of it but in case you hadn't seen it yet you can see it HERE.

September 23, 2013

The Ray Stevens Nashville video...

Earlier this year I did a 40th anniversary blog about a particular album from Ray Stevens titled Nashville. That album, if you do the math, hit the market in 1973. Today, about an hour ago, Ray Stevens emerged with a new You Tube video, "Nashville". I became aware of this through an internet friend and so I quickly visited You Tube and saw the video for myself. It's a great video and a marvelous salute to Music City, U.S.A.

If you're familiar with the 1973 original you'll already know that in the recording he used a lot of topical references and mentioned several country music entertainers. In this updated recording he obviously changed the topical references from 1973 but inserted some new lyrics that might not become as easily dated. He kept the reference to Chet Atkins, though, and in the music video you'll see the salute to Chet when that specific lyric is sung.

Ray Stevens is not a member of the Grand Ole Opry but he has performed there many times over the years and has appeared in concert many times at various venues with ties to the Opry. In recent years, if April Fool's Day happens to be close to a Friday or a Saturday night, the roster often has several comedians as guest stars.

September 20, 2013

Ray Stevens Fall Clearance Sale...

Hallelujah...I have at long last placed an order for the 2007 Ray Stevens CD, New Orleans Moon. I put in the order about an hour ago at Ray's web store. There is an unbelievable, in my opinion, Fall Clearance Sale going on at his store and there are several items that have been reduced in price. Also, if you type in a promo code at the checkout, you'll get 15 percent off the total. This special is only good through September 30th  and so you all have 10 more days to take advantage of any products that you may have been putting off purchasing. I've been a fan of his for so long but there are a couple of things for sale at his store that I don't have. I purchased one of those items, as mentioned at the top of the blog entry, earlier today. You'd think I would already have that in my collection but I didn't. I had the digital download on my previous computer but I'd never purchased the physical copy of the CD until today. I have no idea if I'll ever be on my previous computer again and if not I won't have access to my music libraries. Fortunately, years ago, I had copied a lot the Mp3's I had purchased onto blank CD's just in case of a future computer problem, but some of the digital downloads I didn't get around to and Ray's 2007 project was one of them.

The thing that caused me to go ahead and purchase the CD was my belief that it would no longer be available in the near future. If you've been a frequent visitor of Ray's on-line store you'll perhaps be a little stunned to see that a lot of the items that were once for sale have been taken down. The Misc. section used to offer several T-shirts and several hats, a political book, and a songbook. Today the only things in that section are the songbook and the hats. I'm sure those removed items can still be purchased if you e-mail or contact Ray's office but they're no longer appearing on-line for a world wide audience to see.

Considering that a lot of the items have been removed and the fact that the 2007 CD is priced insanely low right now...less than $6.00!!!...I decided that today is as good a day as any to finally purchase it. A link to the store is below.

Ray Stevens Store

September 14, 2013

Even more Ray Stevens Show Clips...

Well, hello fans of Ray Stevens! I've been enjoying all of the clips that have been surfacing on You Tube over the last month from the 1970 summer program that Ray hosted for Andy Williams. I noticed, by way of my frequent look-in's, that quite a few have visited Ray's You Tube channel (I posted a link to it in my previous blog nearly 1 month ago) and so I'm sure many of you have seen most of the uploads by now. Ray's 1970 summer program lasted a brief 8 episodes. Like many that have seen the clips and are fans of Ray Stevens we've all basically formed the same opinion that the show was way too brief in it's episode count. I looked up the show's air dates months ago and refreshing my memory I looked them up again and it debuted in late June and stayed on the air through early August: June 20, 1970 through August 8, 1970. Strategic air-dates is how the network was able to stretch 8 episodes into a summer season.

Here's Ray Stevens performing his version of "Proud Mary". I assume it's labeled 'Rolling on a River' after the repeated use of that phrase and the fact that many people may think the song's called that...

The summer of 1970 also meant that the Vietnam War was raging and protest music, from all sides, filled the airwaves. I'm a self-described nostalgia nut and generally write positively about the music and entertainment from a bygone time period and that's how any nostalgic minded person should be. I don't necessarily believe that a person HAD to have lived through an era to have 'nostalgia' feelings for it. A 35 year old can easily read a reference book or a history book, for example, and wish they lived 20 or 30 years earlier to experience or enjoy something that had happened in history. War is something that no sane person should ever feel nostalgia for...but there DOES happen to be some great feel-good music to come out of that era that shouldn't be lost to time.

There's a perception today, as there happened to be then, that only those of a liberal point of view can enjoy feel-good songs. I reject that perception. There's another perception that conservatives are war mongers and that liberals are pacifists. There's still yet another common belief that a pacifist is the most desirable role than the one that chooses to use military action. The facts remain that no matter the political philosophy, there's a time and a place for diplomacy and military action, no matter which political affiliation a President aligns himself with.

An extreme hawk or an extreme dove is just one of those kinds of things that Ray Stevens wrote and sang about in this stunning clip from 1970. The clip begins with Ray and company performing "Save the Country", a protest-era song originally released by The 5th Dimension in 1970. This is followed by Ray's take on the extremists of both political parties in "America, Communicate with Me". He cites a couple of bumper stickers as the main inspiration for the song. It's a great performance all around.

The single cut through on the adult-oriented Middle of the Road/Easy-Listening charts in 1970. It nearly made the Top-10 in that format after just a few weeks in the stores. The format, now known as Adult-Contemporary, at that point in time was the stomping ground for many, MANY pop singers that were enormously popular but they didn't have a lot of rock and roll in their music to fit the dominated rock and roll playlists. In other words, artists that had a significant following and sold a steady stream of singles but didn't fit Top-40 pop radio were usually pushed into the Easy-Listening formats. These artists, because their singles were selling, still managed to make appearances in the lower portions of Billboard's Hot 100 which had quickly been taken over by rock music by 1960.

"America, Communicate with Me", while being a major Easy-Listening hit for Ray Stevens in 1970, wasn't able to crack into the Top-40 of the Hot 100 as easily. It came close...but I suspect that the middle of the road, Independent stance on social issues heard throughout the song created such a dilemma with Top-40 radio stations that DJ's perhaps thought that there could be a negative reaction, of some kind, from ardent supporters of liberal politics and those in the anti-war crowd...perhaps a major listening base...that Top-40 stations were too scared to play it. As mentioned, Easy-Listening radio formats played the song...

A lot of the artists in Easy-Listening format had seen their Top-40 airplay reduced or stopped altogether after the advent of rock music in the mid '50s. The artists that still sold concert tickets and singles, but happened to be over a certain age and declared 'uncool' and not hip by teenagers, were now able to continue to make a decent living as recording stars for an additional 10-15 years after rock and roll came along thanks to the creation of an Easy-Listening/Adult-Contemporary radio market. Ray was unique in that he happened to have been born in 1939 and so in January 1970 he had turned 31. Image wise he wasn't seen as some sort of a culture threat or bad influence on kids while his youthful appearance and socially aware demeanor, as you clearly see in these 1970 clips, appealed to younger audiences and that's a big reason why, in my opinion, he was able to straddle both the younger and older audiences simultaneously.

Cast members of Ray's summer show included Mama Cass from The Mamas and the Papas, English singer Lulu, comedian/writer Steve Martin, Billy Van, Tom Solari, and Clark Carr. In the clip below enjoy "Ahab the Arab" followed by Ray and the cast singing "Let it Be"!