March 28, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 2...

Here's the second installment of Ray's weekly sketch series. It hit You Tube around 1pm Eastern this afternoon but I was not at the computer at the time to post it when it became available...this particular webisode focuses exclusively on chickens. In the opening sketch you'll see Ray and the nurse (Sabrina Blanton) catch a resident at The Encore sitting with his back to the camera (the vocalization is provided by Ray, impersonating Wolfman Jack). The 'DJ' is pulling pranks on people...

If you didn't see episode 1, check my previous blog entry or visit Ray's You Tube channel.

There's hasn't been any news whatsoever about any upcoming CD releases. Around the latter half of 2013 there had been several announcements made about a couple of CD's being on the not too distant horizon for 2014 (he even appeared on several interview programs to spotlight an upcoming gospel project) but it's been almost 4 months into 2014 and there hasn't been any talk of any upcoming release dates...yet. Of course, once I learn of any information about a CD release I'll make a blog post about it.

I came across an internet site earlier this morning and there happened to be a small blurb that stated that Ray was going to take part in a television taping, as part of a religious program, in early April. There wasn't any information on when this as yet to be recorded footage would air on TV, though.

If this information is legitimate and nothing happens from now until then to cancel his involvement or postpone his involvement, I suspect that this future appearance may...may...indicate that the gospel CD he'd been talking about for a couple of years is at long last going to become available with a release date sooner rather than later...but that's just my theory. For those out of the loop, Ray is at some point going to issue a couple of diverse CD's. He spoke about them in the latter half of 2013. One is a gospel project called Onward Christian Soldiers. The second project is going to be titled Melancholy Fescue (a bluegrass oriented CD).

March 21, 2014

The Ray Stevens You Tube webisode...

Hello all...I just got back from Friday errands and found out that Ray Stevens uploaded the first webisode of his brand new You Tube series. The installments are apparently going to run a little more than 6 minutes each and a different installment will appear on his You Tube and Facebook pages each Friday.

The Judge is played by Louise Mandrell. The sheriff (Dudley Dorite a/k/a Bubba) is portrayed by Buddy Kalb...a long time friend of Ray's and since the early-to-mid '80s he's been a songwriter for Ray, too. Look for a cameo appearance by Darrell Waltrip.

I can't wait to see each webisode every Friday!!

March 18, 2014

Ray Stevens from Cover to Cover...

In a previous blog entry I remarked that a lot of compilation projects on Ray Stevens have been issued in some format or another throughout the latter half of the '60s and running non-stop through the mid '90s. A lot of those compilations were not under Ray's control...once an artist records songs for a label, the label in return takes ownership of those recordings and the distribution rights. It gets even more confusing and complex if a label is bought out or merges with another company or if the label gives distribution rights to a second, third, or fourth party...that sort of thing can create a scenario of multiple record labels issuing compilation albums of the same songs, just in different sequential order, and usually with varying audio quality, too. If I remember it correctly from some things I've read through the years, if the singer happens to be the song's writer or it's publisher then that artist owns the rights of the written 'song' (lyrics and music) but not the actual recording of that song (the recording is owned by the label). Having said that, if a singer is the song's writer but the publisher is someone else then it's said that the writer/artist and the publisher share ownership of the song but the recording is still under control by whatever label the artist recorded it for.

Ray Stevens is one of the pioneers, in my opinion, of savvy music sense. As soon as he as able he began to publish the songs he wrote and he began publishing pretty much every song he happened to record because he learned that the publisher had the most lucrative career. Every so often he'll record songs that aren't tied to his publishing house but those are exceptions to the norm...typically he records songs he's either written, co-written, or have been submitted to him by a core of songwriters that work in his publishing company. He produces his recording sessions from his own recording studio and arranges the music on the songs that he chooses to record and has long been the piano/keyboard/synthesizer extraordinaire of his albums (he'll occasionally play the trumpet, vibraphone, or other instruments but mostly he sticks with instruments in the piano family). On some of his albums (specifically the late '80s/early '90s) he handed over the piano duties to a musician named Gary Prim (if you look at the musician credits you'll see his name) but Ray was still credited for the keyboard and synthesizer contributions of those albums.

This 1992 compilation is exclusively Mercury Records oriented. It features 12 songs that Ray recorded during the years of 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1983. The catalog number is 838 169-2 and this CD more or less combines 8 recordings found on some earlier compilation releases in 1989 (also on Mercury) and adds in 4 additional recordings he did for Mercury to give the CD a total of 12 tracks. One of the oddities is the inclusion of a couple of early '80s recordings he did for the label. I say they're oddities strictly due to the fact that the 10 other Mercury recordings all come from the early '60s time period and his voice, by 1983, had deepened, mellowed and matured dramatically between the years of 1964 and 1983. For those curious, Ray had recorded three studio albums for RCA (1980, 1981, and 1982) after having signed to the label in the latter half of 1979. In addition to those 3 studio albums, RCA issued a Greatest Hits package on Ray in 1983. Later on that year Ray found himself at Mercury Records of all places...the label that made him a recording star in the early '60s...and he ended up recording one studio album for Mercury in 1983 titled, Me. From that 1983 album comes 2 of the songs on this otherwise exclusively early '60s track list: "My Dad" and "Game Show Love". The timeline for the publicity of the 1983 album got underway late in the year and much of it's publicity peaked sometime in mid 1984. After concluding his one year stay at Mercury he joined MCA almost immediately and by the end of 1984 he had refocused his career into country comedy and from that point forward he's marketed himself almost exclusively as a comedy/novelty act (something he had resisted doing for many years until he could resist no longer). The 12 tracks on that CD are listed below:

1. Ahab the Arab; 1962
2. Furthermore; 1962
3. Funny Man; 1963
4. The Deodorant Song; 1963
5. Harry the Hairy Ape; 1963
6. Just One of Life's Little Tragedies; 1963
7. Speed Ball; 1963
8. Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer; 1964
9. My Dad; 1983
10. Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills; 1961
11. The Rock and Roll Show; 1962
12. Game Show Love; 1983

I mentioned earlier that the songs on that 1992 CD had appeared on a compilation release from Mercury in 1989. The label issued 2 separate collections in 1989, each consisting of the same songs and the same image of Ray, but under different titles: One release is titled Funny Man and the other is titled Ahab the Arab. The project happened to be released under the Polygram Records imprint...a subsidiary of Mercury Records...and there are 8 songs altogether. The catalog number for the 1989 pressing titled Ahab the Arab is 838 169-4 (note it's similarity to the 1992 catalog number). The 8 songs on those 1989 collections are:

1. Ahab the Arab
2. Furthermore
3. Funny Man
4. The Deodorant Song
5. Harry the Hairy Ape
6. Just One of Life's Little Tragedies
7. Speed Ball
8. Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer

As you can see, 1992's CD simply took the 8 songs from the 1989 compilation and tacked on 4 additional songs to give it 12 tracks altogether.

As I've mentioned in other blog entries, a 1970 release called The Best of Ray Stevens on Mercury Records, introduced me to Ray's early '60s recordings. I came across a cassette copy at some point in the early '90s just as I was slowly but surely putting together my Ray Stevens music collection. I then came across this cassette and seen a couple of song titles new to me: "The Deodorant Song" and "Just One of Life's Little Tragedies". I also seen "Furthermore" listed. At the time I was familiar with Ray's 1984 recording and before listening to the 1989 tape I assumed I'd be hearing the 1984 recording...what a jolt to hear the song in it's original, high octane 1962 presentation...completely unlike the bluesy 1984 rendition. I had so much more to learn about Ray's recordings that it's embarrassing to think back on what little I knew!! This is back in the days before the internet became the giant that it is today...long before video hosting sites, Mp3's, social media sites, and on-line stores and auction sites, etc. etc. In those days a person had to rely on looking through flea markets and yard sales and garage sales (in person) in order to find vinyl albums and vinyl singles or visiting book stores (in person) in the hopes of perhaps coming across reference material of some kind. The 1989 compilation titled Funny Man looks exactly the same...and the songs are in the exact order, too...

There's never been a reason given for the separate releases...each has the same catalog number, it's like the same item but under a different title. My guess is Mercury may have released the Funny Man compilation tie it in with Ray's reputation with the general public. Then the label could have re-issued it as Ahab the tie it in with Ray's first big hit and potentially create more sales. Then there's the possibility that Mercury/Polygram issued it as Funny Man in certain parts of America and under the alternate title in other parts of America. I've never come across any explanation as to the reason behind the 2 nearly identical projects and so those are only my theories. The 1992 CD I mentioned earlier essentially wiped out the need for either of these 1989 releases but if you have them both they may become of value to some future fan of Ray Stevens. Some might find it baffling as to the reason Mercury issued the same 8 song collection during the same year, using the same image of Ray, the same catalog number, but utilized different titles. They may also be of value to a completest intrigued by the oddity/obscurity of those 1989 Mercury releases.

March 17, 2014

Ray Stevens and the Golden Gum...

Mercury Records issued a novelty single in 1964 on Ray Stevens and it's appeared on several compilation releases over the decades. It happened to be a single-only upon it's initial release 50 years ago. Ray had a unique arrangement, if I recall the historical facts correctly, in which he would be an arranger/session musician/producer for Monument Records beginning in the latter half of 1963 while Mercury Records would continue to release his recordings. I've read that in several music history reference books and so I'm taking it as being pretty accurate. If anyone has any contrary information let all of us know! I happen to think there's some accuracy in that statement because if you search You Tube or research a lot of the various recordings released on Monument Records as well as Independent labels in the early to mid '60s (specifically R&B music from that era) you'll see Ray's name credited either as producer or arranger and sometimes songwriter on the recordings by those artists. I've embedded several You Tube clips through the years of songs that Ray helped create behind the scenes and almost all of them came from that early to mid '60s time period.

In this blog entry, though, we're celebrating the Golden Anniversary of "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer"...and just who is that you might be asking!!? Bubble Gum...well, she's an exotic bubble dancer for one thing...and for another she causes fits of passion amongst the locals at a night club. Historically speaking, though, this novelty recording came several years prior to the official creation of what's referred to as bubble gum in pop music (a sound that's easy on the ears, heavily inspired for mass appeal, and lyrically sweet as, you guessed it...bubble gum.). In other words, 'bubble gum', though an official sub-genre of pop music, is mostly used as a derogatory phrase by those that prefer hard-rocking, hard-driving music.

Ray's song is quite the's not exactly 'bubble gum' due to the music creating a bluesy, night club feel and as much as it's irresistible to claim that the song predicted the bubble gum era, I won't make such a claim...but I will say that the song's title is clever and it's one of his great undiscovered gems. Those that see this song title on compilation albums issued on Ray Stevens may think the song is about the bubble gum era in pop music but it really has nothing to do with it.

As mentioned, the song has appeared on several compilations...obviously on the releases administered by Mercury Records and it's subsidiaries. I have the commercial single in my has a cream colored paper sleeve and two asterisks on either side of "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" title to indicate it's the A-side of the single. The B-side is a haunting tale of infidelity and madness called "Laughing Over My Grave". I often provide links to that particular song around Halloween time.

In the United Kingdom this LP, according to several music sites, became available during the bubble gum music era of the late '60s. I had never seen any references to this collection on any music sights until several years ago (when Amazon and other on-line music sites started using this particular image as a promo for an Mp3 release in 2010 titled, you guessed it: The Best of Ray Stevens) and so I don't really know the true origins of this particular project or it's illustration but judging by it's art design it looks as if it had been released in the late '60s. If anyone out there can positively state that the project below had been originally issued in the UK in vinyl format in the late '60s let us all know. I like being accurate (everyone that reads this blog should know that by now).

But as you can see from it's title, it highlighted "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" specifically...complete with a crude illustration of a lady that I don't assume could successfully audition at becoming a bubble dancer but obviously the illustrated rendering is meant to focus on her bubble gum bubbles rather than anything else. The catalog number for the project is Mercury-6335087. If you Google the album title and it's catalog number you'll also discover that there happens to be two separate releases, one with 11 songs and another with 13, but the catalog number and title of the project is the same. In 1967 Mercury issued it's first of several compilations titled The Best of Ray Stevens. On the 1967 collection it included for the first time on LP the previously single-only releases of "Butch Babarian", "Santa Claus Is Watching You", and "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" and so that indicates that the project I just got through discussing was released after 1967. The 1967 LP would see a couple of arrived in 1970 and another re-issue came much later in 1987. The 1967 release featured a performance of "Ahab the Arab" with an introduction by Ralph Emery and I believe it's from the local mid-morning/afternoon pop music program that Ralph hosted. This recording appears on each of the re-releases, too.

The songs from his first two studio LP's for Mercury (released in 1962 and 1963) would find themselves being re-issued and re-packaged on numerous compilations in America and internationally throughout the rest of the '60s, all of the '70s, and into the late '80s before reaching somewhat of a peak in the early '90s as music conglomeration and consolidation, I suspect, splintered the ownership of a lot of his earlier recordings.

At the time of the single's original release 50 years ago in 1964 it came with a picture sleeve. The image used of Ray is a bit younger, had been used as a publicity picture for a number of years prior to this release. I think it dates back to his years on Capitol Records in the late '50s (his hair is still in the slick back style). Regardless of it's origin it's an image that had been around prior to it's use on this picture sleeve. The single didn't reach the pop charts...neither the A or B side...and a lot of it most certainly has to do with radio politics, music industry politics, a lackluster promotional campaign, and a British invasion of music acts that pretty much erased the Top-40 and most of the Hot 100 of American-born music acts (The Beatles made their historic debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 and in April made history by claiming the Top-5 slots on the Hot 100 Pop singles chart). Those that survived the Invasion had to adapt to the sounds of The Beatles and the acts that came in their foot steps, either reluctantly or happily adapt, or else face sudden career failure. I say that but then I also say that some acts continued to survive by going their own way and adapting to the 'singer-songwriter' movement taking place in pop music, set in motion largely by The Beatles. Ray Stevens, as we all know, had long been the writer of his songs and so he fit in rather nicely with the wave of singer-songwriter acts that started to pop up in the mid and late '60s.

I suppose everyone knows what a bubble dancer is. I didn't spend any time on the subject because it should be self explanatory. If you know the role of a bubble dancer, "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer" could create the illusion of a nude dancer on stage using a large bubble made of gum to conceal herself and tease/torment the audience. Now, with Bubble Gum turning 50 this year it begs the asking of a certain she still shaking it around or has her bubbles burst by going sugarless in this health fanatic era?

Shopping for Ray Stevens...

One never knows what you might find on-line as you search and or shop for Ray Stevens items. A rare Australian release of a great love ballad by Ray Stevens, "Written Down in My Heart", hit the country music Top-40 in America in 1982. This pressing indicates that the single became available commercially in Australia, first...1981 is listed as it's release year. The song appears on Ray's 1982 album, Don't Laugh Now, but it's interesting to find a single dated 1981 when I've always seen the various single releases of this song showing 1982. Of course, all the pressings I've seen on-line happened to be for the American market, so that easily explains the reason why 1982 (and not 1981) appears on the label. Not too long ago I embedded a video clip of Ray singing this song from an early '80s appearance on Barbara Mandrell's famed television program. I'll be including that video clip, once more, below. You can find this single, on vinyl, at various on-line auction sites. Some may bypass vinyl...but you're shortchanging a lot of Ray's more vintage recordings are vinyl-only and haven't been issued on CD or Mp3. As I've mentioned several times over the last 4 to 5 years, don't hold your breath waiting for some label out there to unearth vinyl recordings by Ray Stevens and issue them on CD or Mp3 because chances are it isn't going to happen. His Barnaby albums, except for one, have gotten the CD/Mp3 reissue treatment...and it's great that they became available...but there's still so much more that hasn't been issued on modern day technology.

Although a lot of us love the recordings of Ray Stevens and typically pay attention to the happenings in his career, there are just as many out there that either haven't heard of him or perhaps only know of Ray for a couple of recordings (at that's it!). I blame a lot of that on the unwillingness on the part of Mercury, Monument, Warner Brothers, and RCA to reintroduce Ray's catalog of music to the market again. On-line stores/auction sites are flooded with vinyl albums and vinyl, yes, there's a marketplace to purchase vinyl if you're a serious student of Ray Stevens music...but a general audience isn't going to invest in a turntable and purchase vinyl would be nice if they did but I don't ever see it happening and so a lot of Ray's older recordings continue to remain vinyl exclusives.

One of the things I've noticed as I scour around on-line stores is the number of cassettes popping up for sale. There have been several cassette copies of vinyl albums that have appeared regularly on eBay, for example. A cassette copy of Ray's 1973 album, Losin' Streak, is currently available for sale on eBay. I'd mentioned a cassette copy being available before...I bet some of his fans aren't aware that a cassette version existed. I had assumed a cassette copy existed but until recently (within the last year or so) I had never seen an image of it. There is also a cassette copy of Ray's 1983 album, Me! This, too, is a rare find...for not only is the vinyl album an obscure masterpiece and a rare find but coming across a cassette copy is extremely rare (even more rare is finding it at a reasonable price!). The eBay sale/listing ends tomorrow March 18th. I have it on vinyl and if the seller accepted money order's I'd have purchased this rare cassette copy days ago but the seller only uses PayPal. Here's a LINK to the Me cassette.

Note: If you find this blog entry after March 18th chances are it'll take you to an error page indicating the item's either been sold or the listing has expired.

Also, the seller refers to the product as a 'novelty' but it isn't. All 10 tracks on the project are non-comical recordings. The only lighthearted song on the album is the sing-a-long "Game Show Love", but even that's performed seriously...not a funny sound effect or exaggerated vocalization heard...a tale of a couple that splits up as the man realizes that the woman treats love simply as a game and doesn't take it seriously. The use of game show titles and catchphrases in the lyrics may give it a novelty flavor but it's not really a 'comedy song' in the conventional sense.

You wouldn't think a cassette from the early or even mid '80s would be too difficult to find (considering the explosion of cassette tape popularity during the decade) but yet I've often found it annoyingly difficult coming across cassette copies of vinyl albums from that time period in Ray's career. I DO have a cassette copy of his 1980 Shriner's Convention album on RCA...I consider that a rare find...but you can hardly find a cassette copy available of his 1981 and 1982 RCA albums!

March 14, 2014

Ray Stevens to Issue You Tube series...

Hello fans of Ray Stevens...if you've been visiting Ray's Facebook page then you'll already be aware that starting next Friday (March 21, 2014) Ray is to start issuing 'webisodes' of his television series from last season, Rayality TV. According to the promos, there are a couple on his Facebook page, each episode is to be uploaded onto his You Tube channel every Friday. This cable-TV series as put together throughout much of 2013 and it aired on the re-launched Nashville Network, which has since been re-titled Heartland TV. This digital sub-channel is still not available in many markets and for those, such as myself, that have been curious since day one about how the show come across and it's contents can now see for ourselves starting March 21st. There hasn't been any time given to each episode's release and so my guess is you should check his You Tube channel several times throughout each Friday to see if an upload has become available or you can visit his Facebook page and see if it's posted there, too. If more news breaks between now and then, of course, I'll comment about it on this blog. Ray's You Tube channel can be accessed HERE. Save his You Tube channel and his Facebook page in your Favorites folder, or simply bookmark them, if you hadn't done so already.

March 10, 2014

Ray Stevens...a Barry 35th...

35 years ago...March be specific the week of March 24, 1979...Ray Stevens entered the Hot 100 pop chart with a brand new recording, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". The song, written by Dale Gonyea, can be seen as a parody, a satire, a spoof, or some may take it as a tribute...nevertheless, it became a 'surprise hit' to a lot of people in the spring and summer of 1979. I first heard this song on 1987's Greatest Hits, Volume Two on MCA Records. That particular release is the one that features Ray as the baseball player on the album's cover. I immediately loved the song upon hearing it...entirely clueless as to who Barry Manilow happened to be. Raised on country music I never became familiar with Barry's actual recordings until the early/mid 1990s when I started to purchase some of the CD's that I came across at the local store. I had wanted to hear for myself the singer that Ray sang about. Once I heard "I Write the Songs" and seen a lot of the titles of songs on several of Barry's Greatest Hits collections I started loving "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" even more than I already did. The thing that attracted me to the song, aside from it being RAY STEVENS of course, is the arrangement/music structure. I loved that sound so much that I actually became something of a fan of Barry's thanks largely to Ray's 1979 hit song...which perhaps wasn't originally meant to have such a positive effect and have the potential to create fans for Barry...but, yet, in my case that's exactly what happened. Later on, once I heard "Copacabana", I found out who Lola happened to be...Ray mentions that name in his 1979 hit. As you can see, the marketing department at Warner Brothers really got into the promotion and publicity of this single...designing the picture sleeve of Ray's single to look identical to Barry's second studio LP.

The similarities didn't stop there...Ray's 1979 album The Feeling's Not Right Again is pretty much identical in design/cover art of Barry's 1975 album of a similar title, Trying To Get the Feeling. The ironic thing is, excluding the "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" hit single, the rest of Ray's 1979 album is a Best-of collection. The remainder of the LP is filled out with selected album songs, and a couple of single releases, lifted from three of Ray's previous four studio LP's for Warner Brothers (from the years 1976, 1977, and 1978). "Get Crazy with Me" is track 2 on the 1979 album. It originally was issued as a single in 1977, from the Feel the Music album...and by the way, "Feel the Music" is found on this 1979 album, too. The title track of one of his 1978 albums, "Be Your Own Best Friend", closes out the 10 song LP. It had been issued as a single in 1978 and reached the Top-20 on Canada's country music chart and the Top-40 country chart here in America. In fact, of the 10 songs on the 1979 album, 5 of them come from his 1978 Be Your Own Best Friend album. 2 songs come from the 1976 Just For the Record album ("OM" and "Gimme a Smile").

So, if we break it down, here's what we have: two songs from 1976, two songs from 1977, five songs from 1978, and the lead-off 1979 release, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow".

The catalog number for the single is WBS-8785. It's b-side, the Ray Stevens-penned "Daydream Romance", comes from 1977's Feel the Music album. On some releases the label credits 1979 on both sides of the single...especially on the larger 33 1/3 single release and the UK export. The 45-RPM single released in America accurately credits the A-side as 1979 and the B-side as 1977.

There are several nostalgic items from 1979 centered around this particular single. One of the items is a 1979 issue of Country Song Roundup that features an interview with Ray for an article called Help Me, Ray Stevens. I prefer that article...I have that issue in my collection...I purchased it on eBay in early 2000s. There also happens to be another 1979 article about the single in the pages of People magazine (a May 1979 issue). The story can be seen on-line but it contains a couple of factual errors (proclaiming his 1975 single, "Misty", to be his last hit prior to 1979's Manilow parody; another error is the intimation that his career had ceased to exist during that 4 year period between songs).

The truth is, Ray's career and song releases had simply moved over to country radio and into country music-oriented programming...he didn't "vanish" and his career certainly didn't cease to exist. It continued to thrive as the '70s continued on.

The song debuted on the Hot 100 pop chart on March 24, 1979 and made it's way into the Top-50 during an 8 week run. Music industry politics, no doubt, played a factor in the single not going higher than it did on the Hot 100. A week later, on March 31, 1979, the single debuted on the Adult-Contemporary chart. It's on this particular chart and radio format that the single achieved it's greatest success (reaching the Top-15 during a healthy 13 week chart run). This is something of an irony if you consider that in 1979 Barry Manilow was certainly the king, or at least one of the kings, of soft-rock and the master of the power ballad...and here was a song that had fun with that very sound...and so, as mentioned at the start of this blog entry, some may have taken this as a tribute of sorts to Barry (rather than see it as a parody).

For whatever reason, Warner Brothers decided to issue the song to country radio, too. A song about a megastar in pop/Adult-Contemporary music gets released to a radio format that doesn't even play that artist. It doesn't make much business sense but nevertheless it happened. The single, unbelievably, made the country charts in April 1979 largely, I assume, on the strength of sales and the publicity it generated on country music programs that Ray appeared on. It had a brief 3 week stay on the country music chart that month (it peaked in the much lower half of the then 100 position country single chart). It debuted on the April 14, 1979 chart and was in it's third and final week on the April 28th chart. The only time I've seen Ray perform the song is on a 1979 television special called Nashville Salutes America. It was released on DVD in 2005. Jerry Reed hosted the special and a lot of artists appeared on it performing their latest or their biggest hits...and Ray performed "Freddie Feelgood" and then spoke about his then-current single titled "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" before launching into it. Laughter greeted the narrative part of the song where Ray lists several Manilow song titles in a one sided conversation with a woman named "Mandy".

And that's some of the information on "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow"...a very funny song from Ray Stevens that made it's chart debut 35 years ago this month!