August 25, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Part 5...

Good early Monday morning...those that have the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection in their possession I assume love the CD!!! I came across an article posted on The Tennessean site about the CD and it includes some quotes from Ray. You can read the article HERE.

There's mention made of Volume 2...and according to the article there may not be a follow-up if Volume 1 isn't "a success". The songs that are to appear on a possible follow-up have all been recorded. Ray recorded 24 songs for the project (12 appear on Volume 1 and another 12 are set to appear on the next Volume). I'm sure the success of the CD isn't necessarily going to be determined by sales alone...I'm sure Ray and company measure a CD's success in other ways, too. In the early stages it's a critical success...and it's saw signs of commercial success as it's fluctuating sales ranking on Amazon can attest to...but there hasn't been any television and radio publicity (yet) but I'm sure once Ray starts to make the rounds of various talk programs on either radio or TV (should he do that), the general public is going to become aware of the CD's existence.

Ideally, I believe a commercial on YouTube promoting the CD could be suffice considering the potential of a video clip reaching thousands of people through social media would create instant awareness. Also, given that it'll be on-line, it'll have the opportunity to be shared across the internet and there wouldn't be the scenario of people missing the commercial due to everyone's habit of channel surfing. Will there be a YouTube commercial for the gospel CD?? If one comes along I'll blog about it!!

In the meantime, if you hadn't purchased a copy, I'd suggest you do so. In my previous blog post I shared my review of the CD and I hope it inspires those that read it to purchase the CD. You can read my thoughts about the CD by searching the blog archive off to the right or you can read the Amazon review HERE.

If you're reading this blog I assume you're a fan of Ray Stevens anyhow and so why wouldn't you order it?

I'm going to provide a list of the various on-line stores where you can purchase your copy of the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection. I'm only highlighting certain stores, though...this isn't a directory by any stretch of the imagination...

Ray Stevens Store (CD copy)

Amazon (CD copy)

Amazon (Digital Download)

Capitol Christian Distribution (CD copy)

Wal-Mart (CD copy)

Itunes (Mp3)

Given the cosmetic facelift of Amazon recently they don't promote the CD and digital download on the same product page anymore and so once you're at Amazon you'd have to either click 'Digital Music' or 'CDs and Vinyl' and search for Ray's gospel project. Previous to the facelift, if you happened to be viewing the CD product page there would be a link in the product details for the Mp3 counterpart and vice versa but it isn't like that anymore and so I provided a link to both the CD and Mp3 format.

If you're wanting instant access to the latest Ray Stevens project then, of course, click on the links for the Mp3/digital download copy and have the songs sent right to your device (computer, phone, etc.). If you're like I am and prefer having a physical copy of a CD then click the other on-line stores of your choice. I didn't provide a link to the Bill Gaither on-line store because the page for Ray's gospel CD still has it listed in pre-order and I didn't want to provide a possible inactive link.

Those 6 choices of where you can purchase your copy of Ray's gospel project should be enough. It's not too long of a list and it isn't limited to just a couple of on-line stores, either.

August 23, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection Review

Ray Stevens once recorded an album titled Turn Your Radio On...the recordings took place in the early 1970's. The LP became a hit in 1972 and it boasted three hit singles. Since that time those recordings and some others he did in that same time period that fit the inspirational/gospel feel have made their way onto various compilation albums over the last several decades. In 1982 a re-issue of the early '70s album hit the market. In 1992 Ray compiled a gospel collection of his previous recordings that he titled A Brighter Day. The title of the collection comes from a song he recorded in 1970 that appeared on his Everything Is Beautiful LP.

In 1996, Curb Records issued Great Gospel Songs. This one is more or less a re-issue of Turn Your Radio On with a couple of other songs added. The 1972 LP seen another re-issue via Collectible Records as part of a 2-LP-on-1 CD project paired with his 1975 LP, Misty.

A couple of years ago (in 2010) a compilation from Ray surfaced titled A Funny Thing Happened In Church Today (spotlighting mostly comedic recordings centering around religion and church service). As far back as 2010 Ray had been mentioning in his various interviews that he'd hoped to put out a gospel album of newer recordings at some point. In 2012 it appeared as if a gospel project was on the horizon...excitement amongst fans of Ray Stevens really started to set in during a radio interview with Mike Huckabee as we all heard "If Jesus Is a Stranger" for the very first time in 2013 (December 4th). At the time of that appearance the gospel album had a release date set for January 2014...with the title being 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. Along the way something must have come up because the scheduled January release was pushed back without a specific future release date being announced.

Afterward not much was mentioned of an upcoming gospel release until the summer of 2014 during the early stages of Ray's Nashville memoir release. During an autograph signing at Fan Fair images of Ray's gospel CD appeared as booth decoration and pictures of him from the CD's photo session were on display. I did not attend Fan Fair but I've seen pictures of him meeting fans and signing autographs at Fan Fair and you can easily see images of the gospel CD in the background.

An announced release date of August 19 soon surfaced as did news of it's affiliation with the Gaither gospel music company. The CD carries a Gaither Gospel Series banner on the top left side of the CD.

In a word, this gospel collection is outstanding!! There are 12 tracks on here...5 of the 12 are medleys that combine 2 songs into one performance. This project is a music arranger's delight, too, due to the various tempo shifts and instrumentation accompanying the performances. As most fans are aware, Ray has long been the producer and arranger of the songs he records and this one is no exception...but considering the amount of production on display here I hope listeners appreciate the effort and energy Ray put into these recordings. Not only are you going to hear vocal prowess but musical expertise, too. It's in the medley performances that Ray's arranging skills are front and center. The opening medley "Swing Down Chariot/Swing Low Sweet Chariot" carries the usual display of gospel sing-a-long but it's in the production that Ray paints a clear picture of the a movie...and it comes complete with thunder claps. In the second medley "Shall We Gather at the River/Down By the Riverside", it starts out as a ballad and then turns into a hand clapping sing-a-long. In a possible nod to his 1972 gospel album Ray has also overdubbed his own harmony vocals multiple times...creating a choir effect heard on this song and in others throughout the collection. Track three, "Dry Bones", comes from his 2012 box set The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Ray had performed the song on a telethon hosted by Gary Chapman in 2011...a studio recording surfaced in 2012 for the Encyclopedia project and it's making an encore appearance on this gospel CD.

I first heard and seen Ray perform track 4, "Farther Along", in a YouTube video. The performance comes from a special called God Bless America Again. In the studio recording heard on the gospel CD it clearly fits the country gospel has that 'sound' (to my ears at least). Given it's a studio recording it features a lot more production, obviously, than you'll hear on the YouTube video.

Once you get the CD chances are, if you're a long time fan of Ray's, that you'll get chills and maybe goosebumps as you listen to the familiar intro of "Have a Little Talk with Myself". The song, originally recorded by Ray in 1969, makes a brief appearance as part of a medley. It's paired with "Just a Little Talk with Jesus". Some more examples of Ray's production skills appear in "Onward Christian Soldiers" (in the planning stages of the CD that was to be the CD's title!). The recording blends the gospel sounds with military might and as far as the production goes it clearly holds the title for the most production value (aside from the opening medley). As you listen to "The Old Rugged Cross/Rock of Ages" and especially "Old Time Religion/When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" you'll find yourself caught up in the moment and there's some phrases in his rendition of the "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" that are great to the ears. I hadn't heard Ray sing like this in awhile!! He hits notes in the Duane Allen range (of The Oak Ridge Boys).

"Turn Your Radio On" makes an appearance on this collection...but it doesn't feature the lyrics that Ray Stevens fans are familiar with. This particular recording uses the 1938 lyrics rather than the other set of lyrics Ray used on his 1971 recording. The chorus of the song remains the same, though. "The Preacher and the Bear" is the only comical song on the collection...and some may wonder the reason it's here considering the dramatic and inspirational tone of the collection as a whole. Ray recorded this for his 2012 Encyclopedia box set and did a great job on it. It's more of a religious tale of comedic encounters rather than a 'ha ha ha' funny song. The CD closes with "If Jesus is a Stranger". This is the song that Ray's been performing and promoting on most of his interview appearances. As I mentioned earlier I first heard this song in December 2013 during an appearance Ray made on Mike Huckabee's radio program. I believe this is destined to be a commercially released 'single' and I say that because it jumps right out at you from the speakers as if it's tailor-made to be extracted from the collection at some later date.

After listening to the CD the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One was definitely worth the wait!! You'd have to be one of the most bitter, mean, grouchiest people in America to not like this CD once you hear it.

Yes, this my sheet of paper containing my notes. As I listened to the CD I made notes of some of the things I wanted to say in my review.

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 20...

Hello all!! In case you missed it this is the 20th installment of Rayality TV that hit the internet yesterday (Friday). It's a sequel to webisode 19 as it carries a Christmas theme throughout. Ray begins the festive activities by singing a brief Christmas carol...but it doesn't make much sense to him...and then he does a Victor Borge-inspired reaction...

The two music videos spotlighted in this installment are "White Christmas" and the classic, "Santa Claus is Watching You"...

I had a long night at work and am sleepy at the moment but I did want to let you all know that I received Ray's brand new project in the mail. The Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One arrived in the mail late yesterday evening according to the tracking data on Amazon. I couldn't make it to the post office yesterday because of other things I was doing and so I checked my mail box this morning on my way home from work and the shipment was waiting for me. I'll post my commentary/review/thoughts on the CD at a later time (I've listened to the CD and jotted down notes that I'll be using when I put together my review). 

I'll close this blog post with a visual tease of things to come in my next blog entry...

August 20, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Part 4...

Hello once more!! This is the fourth blog entry of mine to focus on Ray's gospel CD. It's release day happened to be yesterday. I didn't have the chance to post a blog entry yesterday but in case you're wondering, I didn't find any copies of Ray's CD at any of the local Wal-Mart stores. I ordered my copy of the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection yesterday and it should arrive at some point early next week!! Once I get my hands on it I'll post a blog about it! Ray has a purchase page available on his on-line store for CD orders of the current project. Earlier I had assumed that it would only be available on Amazon and on the various gospel music sites but then I seen it on Wal-Mart's site the other day and then I seen it on Ray's site yesterday. Remember, this collection has 12 recordings on it, and it's Volume One in a series. You can check the ordering information at Ray's webpage located HERE. It hasn't cracked the Top-100 sales ranks yet on Amazon but it's steadily climbing. At the moment the CD is ranked #1,838 (the highest it's been since becoming available for Pre-Order several weeks ago). Once I hear the collection and let it soak in I'll post a review of it here and on Amazon. I know of some fans that pre-ordered their CD and so chances are they'll get their copies ahead of mine. I'm going to try and stay away from reading other listener's opinions of the CD until I hear it for myself.

Here's an interview with Ray, conducted on Fox News Radio by Tonya J. Powers, that I came across earlier today on a social media site. He talks about his memoir, Nashville, among other things. The interview is a little more than 8 minutes. As of this writing, the page that I'll be linking to has an error on it so don't get alarmed. As of 9am this morning they mention that his book is being released on August 19th and that a gospel CD is to be released later in the year...but of course, you all know that the book became available several months ago and the gospel CD's release date was yesterday, August 19th. Aside from that the interview itself is great. You can hear it HERE.

August 18, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Part 3...

Hello all the fans of Ray Stevens! I'm not typically chipper on Monday's but this is an less than 24 hours the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One is going to be officially released!! Yes, even at this late stage, you can still officially pre-order the CD. If you pre-order you can select One Day Shipping and it should arrive at your location on release day tomorrow (August 19th).

Here is the link to the CD's page at AMAZON. I still have no idea if this CD is going to be available for purchase in retail stores. Yesterday I seen a couple of CD's under the Gaither Gospel Series sitting on the CD rack at a local store and for a moment I wondered if Ray's upcoming gospel CD may become available in retail stores, too. I'm so used to his releases being exclusive to the internet that it'll be neat to actually see an all-new project from Ray sitting in the CD rack at the store. I'll check the Wal-Mart retail stores in my area on Tuesday and see if it's available. In a previous blog post I pondered the possibility that since the CD is available on the retail store's internet counterpart it may also become available in the retail store itself. I'll blog about my findings tomorrow as I visit some of the Wal-Mart retail stores in the area.

As most of you should already know, this is the CD you're to be on the lookout for starting tomorrow. If you're not into the whole pre-order thing and prefer to order CD's on their official release date then make sure this is the CD you place an order for. There are other releases on the market that feature gospel songs Ray recorded in his past and they're available under various titles all over the internet so be sure to look for this CD image. You may be wondering why I'm saying this since I've already posted an Amazon link that clearly shows the correct CD to purchase. The reason I'm saying it is because there are thieves out there that may, in the future, use this CD cover for an entirely different set of songs or some on-line store or auction site may erroneously place the songs from this CD onto an unrelated collection from the past, using an early picture of Ray, and obviously that kind of thing confuses the consumers. This CD has 12 songs on it and look for the Gaither Gospel Series branding up on the top left hand side of the CD. You can check the Amazon link for the songs found on this project. Also remember that this is Volume One of a 2-Volume series. The second volume is to be released at a later date.  

August 17, 2014

Ray Stevens: A Variety of Music...

It's no surprise that I love the music of Ray Stevens!! During the time of this fan created blog's existence, if you've read closely, you'll know that I love, love, LOVE the late '70s/early '80s time period of his career a whole lot. I also love other era's of his career, too...but there's an unexplainable gravitation I have with his late '70s/early '80s recordings.

In times past I've attempted to find an explanation as to my fascination with that time period in his career but it's best to just enjoy the music and leave the psychology to Ray's comical alter ego, Sickmind Fraud.

1982's "Written Down in My Heart", a marvelous love ballad, is performed by Ray in this clip...

20 years earlier, in 1962, Ray's big single that year happened to be "Ahab the Arab". A clip of Ray singing the song, in 1965, has surfaced on YouTube once more. It's been uploaded by others in the past and this is the most recent upload...

Jumping a short 5 years later, in 1970, notice the change in stage clothing and the thicker hair. Ray Stevens hosted the summer replacement series for Andy Williams in 1970 and among the many songs Ray performed on the summer series is a pop hit that a lot of people, including myself, refer to as "My Baby Wrote Me a Letter". It's officially titled "The Letter", and it became a huge hit for The Box Tops in 1967. Joe Cocker did a version, too, and his recording was actually the current hit version heard during the summer of 1970, the time of this performance from Ray Stevens.

Now, of course, I'm not I don't expect blues, soul, or R&B purists to lovingly embrace the Ray Stevens performance of this song...but I happen to be a fan of Ray Stevens and I'm sure those that stop by here are, too, and we definitely embrace all of Ray's performances and this is another great one...

August 15, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 19...

I'd like to start off this latest entry by announcing that this is my 800th blog post about Ray Stevens!! I don't know if there will be 800 more to come (!) but as long as Ray's active and I've got the inspiration to put together these commentaries and spread the word about the amazing career of Ray Stevens then we'll see how many more blog posts I come up with in the future.

I kind of have a feeling that I'm going to be busy here next week once Ray's Gospel Collection CD becomes available for purchase. It's been available for Pre-Order for several weeks but on August 19th (this coming Tuesday) the CD is to become available for purchase all over the internet. Some on-line stores don't offer pre-order. I have no idea if it'll be in retail stores or not. If you're a member of the Wal-Mart internet site you can currently pre-order The Gospel Collection CD for $9.00! You can read about it at the CD's product page located HERE.

The latest webisode of Rayality TV is this particular installment Ray is celebrating Christmas in August by spotlighting a couple music videos: "Redneck Christmas" and "Guilt For Christmas".

To find the latest blogs about Ray Stevens from fans such as myself and from other fans, simply Google the phrase "Ray Stevens blogs" and then under 'Search Tools' click the option of your choice and the latest blogs about Ray will show up. You can select 'Anytime', 'Past week', 'Past 24 Hours', 'Past Month', 'Past Year', etc. etc. This one, and the previous blog I did earlier today about Ray's half time appearance at the 1987 Liberty Bowl and the blog post from August 9th, are currently among the top search results in the 'Past week' selection (as of August 15th). So yes, there's a way around the deletion of the Google Blog search engine for those seriously interested in keeping up with the various blogs about Ray Stevens that pop up from time to time.

My next blog post should be this coming Tuesday on CD release day but, of course, if something comes up (like a surprise TV or radio interview prior to release day) I'll, of course, make a blog post about it.

Ray Stevens: The 1987 Liberty Bowl Halftime Show...

Hello once more!! Yes, it's been a week since my previous blog entry but a lot of that had to do with the fact that as of several days ago the Google Blog Search vanished from cyberspace. I still don't know how much of an impact that might have on future blogs from those, such as myself, that depended on the publicity from that search engine to generate traffic. Going forward it looks as if traffic to this particular blog will have to be generated from social media sites almost exclusively (by clicking the URL links I may post) or by searching Google using the phrase "Ray Stevens blogs". I did that and seen that my most recent blog post (from August 9th) is listed in the search results...and so chances are this blog I'm currently composing will be in the search results later today. I'll be keeping an eye on the visitor stats, too, and see if there's any kind of a significant drop off in traffic given the loss of Google's blog search engine.

Yesterday Ray Stevens posted a that I had never seen before...from a performance that I wasn't even aware existed until yesterday. The video clip comes from 1987 and it's a full length half time show from the 1987 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. Ray happened to be the host of the event and he also performed near the end of the 15 minute extravaganza. The theme of the half time show was patriotism and it celebrated the Constitution of the United States. The original air date of the telecast happened to be December 29, 1987. The video starts out blinking the score at half time but be the 10 second mark it begins running more smoothly...

August 9, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 18...

Hello all! For me Friday happened to be more busier than usual and so I didn't get any extra time to upload the Rayality TV webisode from Friday. In the installment, portraying the fictional Reverend Ray once more, we are treated to a mini sermon and then the classic music videos of "Sittin' Up with the Dead" and "The Haircut Song".

In the first, taped in 1990 (the song was released that same year on the Lend Me Your Ears album), Ray tells the story of a man that has to sit up with a deceased uncle...but to his horror, the uncle sits up, too. "The Haircut Song", originally recorded in 1985, the music video came along a full fifteen years later in 2000.

The music video is of the single release radio edit. In the radio edit, verse 2 is omitted, and so there are only 2 visits to an out of town barbershop instead of the 3 visits originally heard in the unedited recording on his I Have Returned album (a Gold certified, #1 country music album in the early part of 1986).

"The Haircut Song" music video made it's debut on a VHS home video release called Funniest Video Characters in 2000. In this installment of Rayality TV, however, only the final barbershop visit is seen due to the barber being a preacher (to keep it tied to the overall religious theme of this installment).

If you want to see the entire music video of "The Haircut Song" click HERE.

August 4, 2014

Ray Stevens: Two for Forty Five...

Yes, it's me once more and it's another fan created blog post about the one and only Ray Stevens. This time I decided to mention a couple of albums from Ray that are 45 this year. Released in 1969, "Gitarzan", became a Top-10 pop hit and a million seller. Utilizing a title given to him by Bill Justis (referenced by his birth name of William Everette in the credits), Ray came up with this story of Tarzan, Jane, and their pet becoming unlikely rock music stars. A novelty album appeared soon after...titled Gitarzan.

The comedy album spotlighted his reverence for The Coasters, especially, and it featured his versions of comedy songs made popular by other performers, too. After finally being able to successfully establish himself as a serious pop music performer a year earlier in 1968 (thanks in part to the Even Stevens album and it's big single, "Mr. Businessman"), the comedy image returned with a vengeance during much of 1969 as the Gitarzan album, the "Gitarzan" single, and it's follow-up single, "Along Came Jones", became big radio and sales hits not only in America but in Canada and internationally ("Gitarzan" made the hit lists of several European countries in 1969). "Along Came Jones" became a Top-30 pop hit...not exactly the million selling phenom as "Gitarzan" but it nevertheless was a popular hit single and one that almost always appears in tandem with "Gitarzan" on a myriad of compilation albums. If you see a compilation album featuring "Along Came Jones", chances are "Gitarzan" is also going to be on that same compilation...usually each song follows the other due to their origination being the same 1969 album.

Ray's version of "Along Came Jones" is particularly notable for it's use of his mimicry of the damsel in distress, Sweet Sue, shrieking and sobbing her way through one predicament after the other...rescued in the last minute by a man referred to only as 'Jones'. The Coasters recording of the song in 1959 lacked this unique touch. If you should hear anyone cover "Along Came Jones" and it include female cries of help and save me, they're technically covering the Ray Stevens version and not the original by The Coasters. The 1969 album became available on CD in the mid 1990's on the Varese Sarabande label. I purchased the CD years comes with exclusive liner notes from the Varese writing staff and the notes are presented in obvious historical context given that it had been more than 25 years since the LP originally hit the market in 1969. The original LP featured liner notes from Merv Griffin and those are obviously more contemporary sounding and more in the moment than the ones provided in 1996 for the CD release. The pictures that appear on the back of the LP make their appearance on the back of the fold out CD cover. The back of the CD, as posted here, lists the songs and the writer(s) and chart information. The CD features the complete 11 track album from 1969 and it tacks on 3 bonus tracks. For the 1969 album Ray re-recorded 1962's "Ahab the Arab" and 1963's "Harry the Hairy Ape". Those re-recordings have long since appeared on many compilation albums (rather than the original hit recordings). The album also features "Sir Thanks-a-Lot", an original, which spoofs The Knights of the Round Table. Also on the album are his versions of "Mr. Custer", "Alley Oop", "Little Egypt", and "Yakety Yak" in addition to the hit singles "Gitarzan" and "Along Came Jones". Also, Monument placed a couple of his 1966 single releases on this album and dubbed laughter/applause over top of the recordings: "Freddie Feelgood" and "Bagpipes- That's My Bag".

Ray filmed a music video for "Gitarzan" in 1995 for his direct-to-home video movie, Get Serious!. The video's been on YouTube since May 2011...

An animated music video of "Along Came Jones" hit YouTube in June of last year. The animated video had been produced for a limited-animation music video collection that originally was released on DVD. Ray later uploaded all of those animated music videos onto his YouTube channel...

After the phenomenal success of the 1969 novelty singles and their parent album, Ray jumped back into serious mode once again and eventually released an under-rated masterpiece called Have a Little Talk with Myself in the latter half of 1969. A lot of time, effort, energy, and obvious talent went into the making of that studio album. You can tell it by the production aspects and the musical styles represented. Take a look at the back of the album, if you have a copy, and take in that lengthy list of musicians and soak up the commentary in the liner notes, which feature quotes from co-producer Jim Malloy and from Ray Stevens himself about the making of the album. The album is notable for the inclusion of "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down". The song, from the pen of Kris Kristofferson, represents the first-ever commercial release of a song that ultimately became a major hit a year later for Johnny Cash. Ray issued the song as a single in the latter half of 1969 and it inched along the Hot 100 for a couple of weeks but it unexpectedly reached the Top-60 of the country music chart. In Canada it hit the Top-50 on their country music chart.

Here is a 1970 performance from Ray of "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down". The clip features his performance of another song, "You Are My Sunshine". The latter features a different arrangement than what you might expect. The performance took place on his 1970 summer television program. The clip appeared on YouTube in September 2013...

On the 1969 album covers "Help!", "Hey Jude", "The Fool on the Hill", "Hair", "Aquarius", "But You Know I Love You", "Spinning Wheel" can see that the songs of choice were very contemporary. He doesn't really stray too far from the original arrangements, either, but he does select different instrumentation on several. The title track, "Have a Little Talk with Myself", became the second single release. It Bubbled Under the Hot 100 but crossed over to the country charts and peaked in their Top-70.

He covers Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (it became the third single release from the album early in 1970 and it Bubbled Under the Hot 100).

Bubbling under the Hot 100 is a special chart that ranks singles that are commercially available and have sold in regional markets all over the country but haven't reached the national sales plateau nor gained consistent enough airplay across the country to migrate to the actual Hot 100. A song that reaches #4 on the Bubbling Under chart, but doesn't make it into the Hot 100, has an official peak position of #104. If you ever see statistics that say a single peaked at #115, for example, but you know the Hot 100 only has 100 positions...that #115 means that it peaked at #15 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart.

1969 is mostly remembered, by nostalgic people and historians, as a violent era filled with anti-war protests, celebrated drug usage, the peak of the hippie culture and the boiling point in the mainstream between clashing generations of people on a whole host of social differences. Peace and love, Vietnam, and protests are several phrases that many associate with the late '60s (1969 specifically). Ray turned 30 in January of 1969 and so he was in that age bracket that was largely in the middle of the "youth" vs. the "establishment". 30 isn't old but at 30 you're no longer a teenager or an early 20 something, either, which happened to be the general age bracket mainly driving the counter-culture protests of the time period. One other song Ray covers on the 1969 album is "Games People Play". It's so's from the pen of one of Ray's friends from his early years in and around Atlanta, Georgia in the late '50s...Joe South.

Ray performed the song on his 1970 summer television program and the clip appeared on YouTube in August 2013. It also includes a performance of "Reach Out in the Darkness". Ray never recorded that song, though, it's only available through this performance clip from 1970.

Did you notice the omission of the prophet that can be heard on the studio recording of "Games People Play"? In the studio recording, during the brief instrumental break, Ray can be heard shouting in a heightened state of anguish predicting the world is coming to an end and that we're all doomed. Ray doesn't perform those lyrics in this 1970 clip and I'm sure the reason is because it would break up the serious overtone of the performance. Those that had purchased the 1969 LP and had been familiar with his version of "Games People Play" might have been curious to why the ridicule of the gloom and doom prophets was omitted from the live performance...but it's not too terrible of an omission that changes the dynamics of the song.

I'd simply love it if a record company (major or independent, domestic or overseas) would celebrate the 45th anniversary of these 1969 albums by issuing them on CD as a '2 album on 1 CD' release. I'd love it even more, though, if just the Have a Little Talk with Myself LP finally became available on CD!! I don't ever think it'll happen but there's always wishful thinking.

August 2, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 17...

Good Saturday afternoon everyone...the latest webisode of Rayality TV hit the internet yesterday. In this webisode, Reverend Ray fills us in on "The Dooright Family". This Reverend Ray character debuted in the previous webisode titled P.R.A.Y TV.

Some history on this particular originated in 1980 on Ray's comedy album, Shriner's Convention. He recorded that album for RCA and it became a Top-10 album on the Country album chart. "Shriner's Convention", the single, became a Top-10 on the Country singles chart. "The Dooright Family", on the other hand, never seen an official commercial single release but it's become rather popular among Ray Stevens fans. The reason being is due to it's inclusion on several RCA compilation projects and it's inclusion on Ray's 1995 direct-to-home video movie, Get Serious!. That movie is where the music video originated from. I first heard "The Dooright Family" on the 1987 re-issue of Collector's Series. As I listened to the song I couldn't help but wonder why it never became as popular to a general audience as "Shriner's Convention" did. "The Dooright Family" is hysterical!!

Some recurring events heard in the song is Mama's out of control preaching about the sins and temptations of the world...preaching that seems to get tedious rather quickly for Daddy Dooright and he instructs Brother Virgil to try and calm her down and for her to simply play her piano.

You'll find yourself latching onto phrases like "bless your hearts" and "play the piano" and maybe as you're driving to and from a store, or work, you'll hear those lines in your head and you'll start laughing to yourself. Brother Therman's sermon is one of the highlights of the song as are the continuous urges for Mama to play the piano. A person has to either be deadly serious or highly picky in their choice of humor to not find this song hysterical.

The more dedicated of fans are sure to spot the brief lyrical change heard in the music video performance from 1995 and the audio recording from 1980. The change of lyrics happen in the last part of the song. I assume the reason for the alternate lyrics had to do with the difficulty (?) in visually bringing that part of the song to life and so the lyrics in that part of the song are changed. As said, if you're familiar with the song as it appears on Collector's Series and the Shriner's Convention album you'll easily detect the changed lyrics in the 1995 re-recording.

August 1, 2014

Ray Stevens: The Super 10...

Hello to my first blog entry of the month I decided to list the 10 biggest music videos on YouTube from Ray Stevens for the years 2009 through 2014. I call it The Super 10. The videos are ranked by unique views, as of August 1, 2014, and in numerical order starting with the smallest to the largest. I must say that all 10 have at least 1,000,000 unique views. The numbers increase as we head to #1.

#10: God Save Arizona (2011)- This ballad has 1,021,656 unique views. The song can be found on his Spirit of '76 CD.

#9: It's Me Again, Margaret (1992/2009)- This classic from 1984 became a music video in 1992 and it made it's debut on YouTube in 2009. It's gotten 1,036,057 unique views so far.

#8: Throw the Bums Out! (2010)- This rallying cry has 1,070,255 views at the moment. The song is from the We the People CD.

#7: Obama Nation (2012)- Debuting in July, this cleverly titled song/video sits at 1,096,261. The song originated on his We the People CD.

#6: Mr. President - Mr. President (2011)- Debuting in September, this video has 1,489,631 unique views. It's a catchy sing-a-long...the video has footage of Obama at a podium and Ray acts as a member of the press asking him pointed questions. The song can be found on his Spirit of '76 CD.

#5: Obama Budget Plan (2011)- From April comes this video all about the President's debt and deficit problems and his consistent proposals for more big spending and higher taxation on people. It's gotten 3,382,891 unique views so far. You can find the song on Ray's Spirit of '76 CD. Notice the increased jump in multi-millions from video #6 and video #5.

#4: The Streak (1992/2009)- This classic from 1974 became a music video in 1992 and it made it's debut on YouTube in 2009. It's gotten 3,614,829 unique views.

#3: Mississippi Squirrel Revival (1992/2009)- This classic from 1984 became a music video in 1992 and it made it's debut on YouTube in 2009. It's obtained 4,047,730 unique views.

#2: We The People (2009)- This modern-day classic from Ray hit in November 2009 and it kick started his phenomenal success on YouTube with political and topical music videos. All about Obamacare, this video has 5,101,505 unique views. It's the title track of his 2010 CD.

#1 Come to the U.S.A. (2010)- This is another modern-day classic from Ray and it's from the We The People CD. The video hit in June of 2010 and it's about illegal immigration. The sarcasm and irony that drips from the lyrics is usually lost on a lot of critics of this song...nonetheless, it's an enormous hit video and it has 8,552,551 unique views...and counting...