March 29, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 8...

Hello once again...I felt that it's about time I posted some updated numbers concerning the current YouTube video from Ray Stevens, "Taylor Swift is Stalking Me". In my previous blog entry I noted that the video had spiked in unique views largely on the strength of an article that appeared on Billboard magazine's website. It had jumped to 93,509...a pickup of more than 15,000 additional discoveries. Today finds the video having gotten 103,693 unique views and that's an increase of 10,184 discoveries during the last 2 and a half days.

Given that the video's vaulted past the 100,000 mark I suspect that the video is going to go in one of 2 different directions from here on out.

One direction might be that the video is going to be picked up and shared on various news websites in their Entertainment sections and reach a non-music audience for the first time. A non-music audience is my way of describing the audience that by and large visits news and political websites rather than visiting music sites or keeping up on the latest music releases.

Another direction that the music video might go in since it's broken into the 100,000 level is to just coast along...picking up a couple thousand unique views here and a couple thousand there. I don't think the video is going to be the single biggest publicity tool for his current CD, though. He has a couple of concerts scheduled in June...but with this being March...I just can't imagine he'll ride the current music video for 3 more months but Ray likes to plan ahead a lot of the time and he may have things planned further down the road.

As I've long since pointed out Ray Stevens is entirely unpredictable and he lives in his own universe and I mean that in a positive way. Once you get the sense that you can predict something he'll do he does something radically different than expected. He doesn't follow a set pattern even if it may seem like he does.

Now, the reason I doubt that the music video is going to be the current one from Ray by the time June rolls around is because I feel the video's possibly reached it's peak during the last couple of days after it's exposure in the Billboard article and I explain my reasoning below...

As mentioned in the opening paragraph the video received more than 15,000 unique views in the hours after the Billboard article hit the social media sites and then during the last couple of days the video's racked up 10,184 additional discoveries. That's more than 25,000 unique views over the course of a 5 calendar day period (March 24-March 29).

Unless there's some additional high profile publicity for the music video enabling it to reach the same amount of an audience size that it reached this past week the video may just coast along until the follow-up arrives. Here's the video...

You can purchase the Mp3 of Ray's current release, Here We Go Again!, on Amazon by clicking HERE. If you prefer a CD copy, as I do, you can click HERE. The page opens up to my customer review of the CD. To order the CD just click the Add to Cart button on the left side of the page next to the review. All fans of Ray Stevens are sure to love the CD as much as I do...

March 26, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 7...

Hello all!! Throughout the course of Tuesday and into Wednesday the latest CD from Ray Stevens fluctuated all over the Top-100 on Amazon's sales list. Also, there happened to be a couple of articles published on Ray that were shared on social media sites...the articles included links to the CD and the current music video was embedded in some of those articles, too.

One of the articles is posted on the Vintage Vinyl News site located  HERE.

The article that got the biggest amount of sharing originated on Billboard's SITE. This exposure no doubt led to the video's hike in unique views. The last blog entry I posted in which I reported on the video numbers (back on March 21st) the video had reached 78,041. Looking at the numbers at the moment there's been a leap to 93,509!! A total of 15,468 additional people seen "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" over the course of the last couple of days.

Since the video's gotten even more exposure than before the critics have also started to chime in with their negative points of view. Everything from "does he think this is funny??", to "he's still alive??", to "this is pathetic...insulting..." have come raining down on the video. As mentioned in previous blogs the reason I embed music videos is to avoid a direct link to a video's home page...because usually the home page of a video is filled with mean and hateful commentary (particularly true for the political comedy videos he did).

In the meantime...did any of you stumble upon my review of Ray's CD? I posted it yesterday and then I posted it over on Amazon. In case you didn't see it here's the AMAZON review. Currently there are 2 customer reviews...mine being one of them. Someone actually beat me to being the first customer review by a couple of hours. You can leave commentary or rate my customer review if you'd can also purchase the CD if you hadn't done so already. The Mp3 is also available, too! You can purchase it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

March 25, 2015

Ray Stevens: Here We Go Again! CD...My Review...

***My review of Ray's current CD contains spoilers! If you don't want to read about the songs or learn of any of the hooks, phrases, or some of the lyrics then don't read the rest of this blog entry***

After taking a detour, of sorts, over the last 5+ years and releasing some hilarious political songs on a couple of CD's, plus issuing a 9-CD box set called The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music (containing his versions of novelty songs of the last 50+ years), a majestic gospel CD last year called Gospel Collection, Volume One, and a memoir titled Ray Stevens' Nashville...after those projects, Ray Stevens returns to country comedy on his latest CD. The cover art, as you can see, takes place in an airport setting. In a touch of silliness, a gorilla plays the part of the chauffeur. On the back of the CD the songs are listed as if they're flights posted on the Arrival board. The CD's first single release arrived in music video form a month ago...titled "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" it's a story of a man that's obsessed ith the belief that he's being stalked by the pop-country singer because, according to him, he sees her everywhere and given that her likeness appears everywhere he happens to be he thinks she's stalking him. The song has a comical twist ending, though. Throughout the song he insists that Taylor's up in a tree looking at him with binoculars.

After the bouncy opening track about Taylor we're treated to Ray covering one of his musical idols, Ray Charles. I pretty much know that the purists that'll hear the Ray Stevens rendition of the Ray Charles classic "What'd I Say" aren't gong to like it. After all, they may ask, how can you top a Ray Charles recording?

I don't necessarily believe Ray Stevens set out to try and top the classic rendition from Ray Charles, though. I think that Ray Stevens simply wanted to record the song and so he did. I happen to love the rendition. Even if some may groan about the idea of someone other than the late Ray Charles performing that song at least it gives Ray Stevens an opportunity to display his obvious love for classic Rhythm and Blues music.

Aside from the song about Taylor Swift, one of my other favorites from this CD is "There Must Be a Pill For This". This one is vintage Ray tells the story of pills...and the enormous quantity of pills that are on the market for everything under the sun. Pills to help thick people lose weight, and pills to help frail people gain weight. It's a satire on pills...miracle pills, specifically...and as an added pleasure there's a parody of those lengthy disclaimers that appear as voice-overs on healthcare commercials.

The tempo changes for the next song, "Walkin' the Dog". In this one Ray sings of constantly bickering with his wife. Instead of moping around the house he simply goes outside, gets Rover, and walks the dog. He reckons that once he starts to take the dog for a walk he may run into a woman putting on the dog (presumably to be a possible new love interest). Track Five is thrilling...a cover of "Hearts Made of Stone". I looked up the song's title and found out that it had been a Rhythm and Blues hit in 1954 for a group called The Charms. I had heard an audio clip of Ray's recording and since that time I had been wondering the reason for the 1950's-style of audio (complete with echo!) and I eventually found out the reason. It's clearly the stand-out song on the CD if only for it not vocally sounding like anything else. I love the over-dubbed do-wah harmonies heard throughout.

The most country sounding recording on the entire CD is "Pickin' on the Chicken". This one, too, is one of my favorites. In the song Ray sings from a chicken's point of view and he demands to know the reason so many negative expressions are associated with chickens, hens, and eggs. Throughout the song we're treated to a list of expressions and sayings that put the chicken in a bad light...expressions like 'madder than a wet hen'; 'that's chicken feed'; 'He's got egg on his face'; 'One flew the coop'; etc. Ray also manages to get in a reference to Willie Nelson, too, in a laugh out loud funny one-liner.

The second-most country sounding recording is "The Baptism of Stumpy Brown". The song is about an atheist that suddenly finds religion in his 90s and insists on being baptized as a result. The frail body in a raging river is bound to cause some incidents...and Ray tells of those in this story. Inspiration surfaces in the song "Little by Little". There is a song on here called "You Didn't Build That"...let's just say I find it hilarious...but it's something that more than likely is not going to go over too well with, say, fans of the President. That song is followed by a contemporary classic in the form of the illegal immigration anthem "Come to the U.S.A." (a song from 2010). Illegal immigration is a hot topic and one that's consistently controversial. Although I'm reviewing the CD there's an Mp3 copy for sale, too, and that means customers can pick and choose the songs they want to purchase from Here We Go Again! I prefer having a physical copy of the CD.

Along the lines of manhood and masculinity comes "A Handshake Will Do", track 11. The lyrics cry foul on guys hugging other guys unless it's called for and Ray gives examples for when it's okay. Ironically, on the day this CD went on sale, a picture of Larry Gatlin attempting to hug Ray appeared on Ray's social media sites. There's no reference to this song, as far as the picture is concerned, though. I call it just one of those ironic coincidences.

Ray had appeared as a guest artist on the Grand Ole Opry on March 21st on a segment hosted by Larry Gatlin.

The CD's closing track, "Knock Him Out John", is another one of my favorites. I call it a tribute to the late Jerry Clower. It's a recap of Jerry's story of the time he and some of his friends went hunting for racoons and ended up having an encounter with a lynx. Ray's recording is the story set to music. Ray does his rendition of Jerry's holler and it appears at various moments during the song's chorus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the CD...his restless energy and incredible vocals are on full display on this CD!

March 23, 2015

Ray Stevens: Here We Go Again! CD now available...

Hello all and a happy CD release day, too! Oh yes, the Ray Stevens CD that I've been blogging about the last couple of months is finally available for purchase starting today. It's been available for pre-order since late February but today is the official release day for Here We Go Again!, a 12 song CD.

I had gotten a surprise in my mailbox at the post article of mail had arrived from Clyde Records. I didn't remember ordering anything from Ray's store and so I opened up the small, padded envelope and I got a surprise...a signed copy of Ray's CD!! I've never received anything like that before!!

Although I already have an order put in for it on AMAZON (a pre-order from late February), could you imagine the baffled emotions racing through my mind as I opened up the envelope to see not only the CD but a message from Ray, too.

The message was inside a smaller envelope the was shipped inside the padded envelope and it sat underneath the CD and it explained the reason for my being sent a copy of the CD.

In case you're wondering I listened to the CD once...and I'll be listening to it more before I post my thoughts about it. This particular copy of the CD is going to be put away later on because of the autograph on the front. The one that arrives from Amazon is going to be the one I'll have sitting around amongst my other CD's. The copy I ordered on Amazon was shipped out earlier this morning from a facility in North Carolina and so it should arrive here by the end of the week.


March 21, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 6...

Hello all...a very early Saturday morning check-in has me delivering the latest totals of the Ray Stevens hit video, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". In my previous blog entry I made mention of the video reaching 72,120...this morning has the video sitting at 78,041. This is a pickup of 5,921 unique views. The song kicks off his upcoming CD, Here We Go Again!, which you all can still pre-order on several on-line music stores (Amazon, Itunes, CD Universe).

Also, for the first time since the CD became available for pre-order purchase, you can visit Ray's ON-LINE STORE and place an order, too. If Ray had made purchasing from his store available sooner I would've bought directly from his site, like I typically do, but considering the CD wasn't available for pre-order last month I chose Amazon since that's the on-line store I shop at anyhow. Ray's selling the CD for the current price that's listed on Amazon (which is $10.99). Ray's shipping and handling rates are a bit higher, though, and so if you choose to buy direct from his site you'll pay just a little more than at Amazon, maybe a dollar or two more, but that's not that big of a deal for me. As mentioned, had the CD been available for purchase at his site last month I would've bought from him directly.

Apparently the official press release surrounding the upcoming CD is that it's a return to classic Ray Stevens comedy. There's a reference made about this CD being his first all-comedy CD in nearly 10 years. In a previous blog entry I speculated that the CD being referenced in those press releases must be 2008's Hurricane or 2009's One for the Road. Those 2 projects, in particular, are heavy on re-recordings but they do contain some comical original recordings, too.

The projects (studio albums) that Ray's released on CD since 2000 are listed below...

1. Ear Candy; 2000 Clyde Records (concert favorite "Safe at Home" originated on this CD).

2. Osama Yo' Mama: The Album; 2002 Curb Records (features most of the recordings from Ear Candy along side several then-recent recordings: "Osama Yo' Mama", "United We Stand", and "Freudian Slip").

3. Thank You; 2004 Clyde Records (an all-serious CD containing mostly patriotic songs but some love ballads, too).

4. New Orleans Moon; 2007 Clyde Records (fabulous collection of songs rich in Louisiana culture; some of the titles include "Louisiana", "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?", "New Orleans", "Basin Street Blues", and others; the title track was written by Ray and Chuck Redden; Chuck had supplied Ray with a song in 2005 called "The New Battle of New Orleans" which, in case you hadn't heard the original by Redden, it received some heavy re-writes by Ray and Buddy Kalb prior to Ray's recording of it; but more about Chuck later on).

5. Ray Stevens Sings Sinatra...Say What???; 2008 Clyde Records (the title says it all...he covers such Sinatra classics as "Strangers in the Night", "Witchcraft", "Young at Heart", "High Hopes", and more!; Ray, inexplicably, never promoted this CD and I don't recall ever seeing him on any television program singing any of the songs on the CD, neither!).

6. Hurricane; 2008 Clyde Records (this collection has a heavy redneck theme throughout...featuring titles such as "Hey Bubba, Watch This!", "Bubba the Wine Connoisseur", "Down Home Beach", "The Cure", and several re-recordings of songs Ray originally recorded in the mid 1980s; the title track spoofs the style of reporting on CNN and features Ray vocally playing the part of several high profile caricatures of public figures such as Wolf Blitzer, Christiana Amanpour, and a Jamaican reporter named Reggae Dreadlocks; Ray does a Ross Perot impression on "Sucking Sound").

7. One for the Road; 2009 Clyde Records (Sold exclusively at Pilot truck stops for several months...gained wider distribution in the latter half of 2009; It features several trucker songs but mostly the collection features re-recordings of songs plus 2 recordings Ray did for his 2000 CD, Ear Candy; Original recordings included on this CD are "Hang Up and Drive" and "Bon Temps Roulette", from the songs exclusive to this collection: "The Right Reverend Roadhog McGraw", "Hangin' Around", "Cooter Brown", "Retired", "Never Too Late", the emotional "Concrete Sailor", and he covers the CB classic "Convoy").

8. Ray Stevens Christmas; 2009 Clyde Records (this collection features non-comical Christmas songs and is often sold along side his 1997 comical holiday CD, Christmas Through a Different Window, during the Christmas season; the 2009 CD contains the original composition "Deck The Halls with Tear Drops" while the rest of the CD features his versions of Christmas classics).

9. We The People; 2010 Clyde Records (this 22 song project contains a treasure trove of recordings that range from never before available to previously released plus a couple of re-recordings added in; the project established Ray as a political entertainer/comedian; the re-recordings are "If 10 Percent is Good Enough for Jesus", "Kings and Queens", and a live recording of "Mr. Businessman"; previously released tracks come from 2000's Ear Candy, 2004's Thank You, and 2008's Hurricane; the songs making their debut on this project include political and topical recordings such as "Obama Nation", "The Fallen Ones", "Fly Over Country", "Come to the U.S.A.", "The Global Warming Song", "We Are the Government", "Throw the Bums Out!", "Caribou Barbie", "Three Fractured Factions", "Dear Andy Griffith", "Solar Powered Song", and "Midnight in Baghdad"; Ray also recorded his reading of the "Pledge of Allegiance" and his take on "The Star Spangled Banner"; the title track debuted late in 2009 via a music video on YouTube...from there it made it's way onto a commercially released single in early 2010...and the continued success of the music video led to this 22 song project; Chuck Redden provided "Midnight in Baghdad" while Max T. Barnes supplied several of the songs that went on to become YouTube music video successes for Ray).

10. Spirit of '76; 2011 Clyde Records (this 11 song CD is the follow-up to the 22 song project from 2010; it features "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", "Obama Budget Plan", "Grandpa Voted Democrat", "Mr. President - Mr. President", and "God Save Arizona"; each of those songs have become YouTube music video successes; Ray, Buddy Kalb, and Chuck Redden wrote the optimistic, topical "November Storm").

11. The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music; 2012 Clyde Records (this mammoth project features Ray's versions of classic novelty songs and it sprinkles in a generous dose of his own latter day comedy recordings from recent projects including re-recordings of his classic hits that surfaced originally as far back as 1991...those particular early '90s re-recordings served as audio for his music videos on Comedy Video Classics; this 2012 project features a booklet complete with Ray's personal thoughts on every song contained on the box set...more than 100 altogether; Ray recorded the bulk of the songs over a 2 year period).

12. Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One; 2014 Gaither Music Group, Clyde Records (for this project, Ray covers several Gospel standards and tops it off with the original "If Jesus is a Stranger" from the pen of Don Cusic; In the early stages of the CD apparently the title was going to be Onward, Christian Soldiers but somewhere along the way the title changed; Ray appeared on several Gospel-Country programs to promote the CD).

13. Here We Go Again!; 2015 Player Records/ Sony RED (this is the upcoming CD...set for release on March 23rd; it features 12 songs in total and the first single release, in case you've been living in seclusion for several weeks, is "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me"...a current hit music video on YouTube the song was written by Ray, Buddy Kalb, and Chuck Redden; the trio also wrote another song on the CD, "You Didn't Build That", and I hope it becomes his next music video!).

In the mean time, here's the current music video...

March 18, 2015

Ray Stevens: Just 5 More Days...

Hello all...oh yes, there's just 5 more days until the release date of the upcoming Ray Stevens CD Here We Go Again!. I'm in my usual anxious, anticipatory, nervous mood just ahead of release day...I plan on posting several more blogs over the weekend and of course on Monday. I pre-ordered my copy of the CD on Amazon back in late February...I have no idea if pre-ordering ensures a CD being shipped in advance so it arrives on release day...but I have a feeling it doesn't.

In the past I've often gotten, surprisingly, a product on release day or a day later. I'm assuming this is because I pre-ordered the product well in advance and so my order was among the first to be shipped out. Then again, I've had experiences in the past of pre-ordering a product only to have others receive their item ahead of it's never a case of being "among the first" to pre-order something. Sometimes the locale of the customer plays a huge factor, too.

As you all may be aware, Ray has an upload on his YouTube channel previewing the songs on the CD. I played the clip just once...the audio clips are too lengthy (for me). That's the reason I hadn't embedded it too many times on my blog...not nearly as many times as the hit music video, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". Speaking of the music's gotten an increase of 3,077 unique views since my previous blog entry. It's grand total so far is 72,120. It may vault into the 80,000 range over the weekend. The interesting thing is the music video hasn't gotten any sort of high profile publicity beyond some write-ups that have circulated on the internet publicizing the video's existence. The totals of the video rest pretty much entirely on video sharing and, to date, there's not been any outside influence...meaning there's been no publicity from any syndicated AM radio talk programs nor has he appeared on Fox News Channel nor has their been any on-air reference to the video's existence on that particular channel. It's only my opinion but I think the video could easily jump into the 100,000 range if it were to get some publicity on talk radio or be mentioned in an entertainment segment on the Fox News Channel's morning program. I believe the lack of that kind of publicity is the thing that's keeping the video from breaking out into that stratosphere. Then again, Ray may like the pace that the video's on. He can ride it's success a lot longer which can benefit the publicity of the CD in the long run.

Here's the product link from can pre-order the CD HERE and don't forget to listen to the Opry or attend the Opry in person this Saturday night March 21st...Ray Stevens is to be a special guest.

March 16, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 5...

On this early Monday morning I wonder exactly what this week holds in store for Ray Stevens. All of us now know that this coming Saturday (March 21st)  he'll be appearing at the Grand Ole Opry and then afterward he'll be signing copies of his upcoming CD. Once I learn of the schedule for Saturday night I'll blog about it. Given that the CD is to be released about a week from now I assume Ray is going to perform a song or two from the CD during his Opry appearance. I'm curious if Ray is going to appear on any talk programs this coming week or if he's going to wait until next week to start heavily promoting the CD.

Chances are he'll be performing "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" during his Opry appearance. You can see the music video above. A rise of 2,450 unique views from my previous blog entry puts the video's overall total at 69,043. Since the video is the CD's biggest garner of publicity, so far, it would make sense that he'd perform the song at the Opry. You may be thinking that I'm having my doubts if he'll perform it...but that's not the case...he's performed other songs at the Opry that some have labeled controversial (such as his political songs) and so I have no doubts that he'll perform this one, too, if he chooses. Yet, that's the key phrase... "if he chooses".

Maybe he'll choose to bypass performing the current hit and instead perform something else from the CD like "A Handshake Will Do", "Pickin' on the Chicken", "The Baptism of Stumpy Brown", or his cover of the Ray Charles hit "What'd I Say" (track 2 on the CD)...this would be more or less the common practice of sticking to songs that in theory might play better to a specific audience. Speaking of the Taylor video I don't know if a majority of the Opry's audience are going to recognize the various song titles being mentioned in the lyrics or if they're going to pick up on other subtle things Ray sings about (pertaining to Taylor) and if that happens to be the case the humor of the song may be lost on a lot of people in attendance...but I could very easily be wrong about that.

I recognized the titles of some of the Taylor songs mentioned in the lyrics but not being necessarily a devoted fan of hers or anything I wouldn't have recognized all of them, either, without the help of the music video pointing out each and every song title being referenced in the lyrics.

Nevertheless, I'll enjoy whatever he performs at the Opry this coming Saturday night.

March 14, 2015

Ray Stevens: Grand Ole Opry March 21, 2015...

Hello once more!! I wanted to make a note of this in my blog entry just in case you all happen to be in and around Nashville in the coming week. Ray Stevens is to make an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry this coming Saturday March 21st. This is a week from tonight.

You can read about it HERE.

Don't forget to click the Buy Tickets link if you're in the area and are a fan of Ray's. Given it's on short notice I'd ordinarily not single out just those that live in the area but chances are fans from neighboring states might not have the time to make plans/arrangements for a long distance concert that's just 1 week away.

Even though that's great news here's something even more grand for those that attend the Opry performance...Ray Stevens is to appear in the Opry gift shop immediately following his appearance. He'll be signing copies of his upcoming CD Here We Go Again!. Yes, yes, read that correctly. If you attend the Opry on March 21st, hold on to your ticket stub, and present it at the gift shop a little after 9pm Central time. Ray will be there to sign copies of the CD.

This means you lucky people that attend the Opry next Saturday are going to get the chance to purchase the CD and have it autographed.

You can read the official statement HERE.

The Franklin, North Carolina appearance is mysteriously missing from the Events page at Ray's site. I don't know if it's been canceled or if it'll be put back up on his site later. The venue's site still has him appearing there this coming June 12th but it's not listed on Ray's site anymore. You can read about it HERE.

If you've been planning on attending that concert I'd call the venue and see if it's still going to take place. Sometimes websites don't update for days or months.

In October Ray's to perform 2 concerts at the Country Tonight Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The date of those concerts is October 15th, a Thursday. There hasn't been any ticket information posted yet. The venue's site doesn't have him added to their concert series line-up...but that should change at some point.

Ray Stevens: Just 9 more days...

Hello to all the Ray Stevens fans out there!! It's just 9 more days to go until the upcoming CD, Here We Go Again!, is officially released. It's been on Pre-order at all the major on-line music stores for several weeks.

I came across an ARTICLE promoting the upcoming CD and it also made mention of the song list, too. The author mentions that this CD is Ray's first all-comedy CD in nearly 10 years. This being 2015...and nearly 10 years ago would have most people thinking perhaps 2007...2008...if that's the case Ray had a comedy CD out at that time called Hurricane (which might be the CD that the author is referencing). The article is positive and informative. Until today I never knew that Player Records is one of Ray's independent labels. I learned that by reading the article I linked to. Since the release of that 2008 CD, though, Ray's been active in all kinds of projects...politically themed comedy and dramatic music videos posted on his YouTube channel dominated much of his output from late 2009 through early 2012. He's pulled back on the political humor just a bit, for the time being I assume, but every so often he'll come up with a political music video/song. He includes one on the upcoming CD, for example. The name of the political song is "You Didn't Build That"...but, of course, the lead-off single and video is at the forefront of the CD's publicity...

The up to date totals of unique views for Ray's current music video, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me", is 66,593...a pickup of 3,510. You can see the music video HERE.

In a previous blog entry I mentioned that I'd be getting some Ray Stevens items that I purchased on eBay. Those items have since arrived and I'm going to post the images below...

This is one of Ray's biggest selling albums of all-time. Titled Greatest Hits it hit the market in 1987 as one of several projects released on Ray that year. The other projects issued in 1987 happened to be the studio album Crackin' Up, Greatest Hits Volume Two, and the direct market television album Get The Best of Ray Stevens. One of the commercials for the television album can be found on Ray's YouTube channel. Ronnie Pugh provided liner notes...they appear on the back of the LP. If you have the cassette, as I also do, the liner notes appear in medium print on the inside of the picture sleeve. The author makes no distinction in his notes about "Ahab the Arab" being the 1969 re-recording. He refers to the original recording year, 1962, but doesn't mention that the recording on the 1987 project is from 1969. As a result I grew up thinking that the "Ahab the Arab" found on this collection happened to be from 1962...and having thought that I was amazed at how little his voice had changed over the decades. I laugh, now, at my ignorance of his career at that point in time but you got to remember that I was just discovering his music. A release on Mercury Records titled Funny Man (from 1989) introduced me to the actual vocalizations of Ray Stevens in the early '60s. I was blown first there was shock because I didn't expect to hear him sound like that (the typical Rhythm and Blues/pop crooner sounds) but I loved it...and I continue to love his music from all time periods.

The other LP that arrived, 1989's Beside Myself, is still sealed. I don't know if I'll open it up or not. I don't necessarily have to open it since I've got the songs on cassette and CD. I simply wanted the LP copy just to have it for my vinyl collection. I assume this to be the final vinyl LP released on Ray Stevens. I say that because I've never seen a vinyl copy of 1990's Lend Me Your Ears ever become available on eBay and I've never seen images of a vinyl LP of that particular release. Here's the 1989 album, though...

March 12, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 4...

Hello and how's Thursday going so far!? Looking at the calendar I see that today's the 12th and that means we're less than 2 weeks from the release of Here We Go Again!, the upcoming comedy CD from Ray Stevens. The release date for the CD is March 23rd and the release date for the Mp3 is March 24th, according to Amazon. Let's see, doing the math, that's 12 more days to go until the CD arrives.

I'm sure most of you all that read this on a regular or semi-regular basis have done put in your pre-order for the CD or at the very least listened to the audio clips Ray uploaded onto his YouTube channel the other day. Based only on the audio clips I predict the following to be pushed as single releases in the future: "You Didn't Build That", "Pickin' on the Chicken", and "There Must Be a Pill For This". I'd also love it if he were to promote the song "A Handshake Will Do" at some point. Click HERE to Pre-order the CD from Amazon.

The first single release from the CD as you should all be very familiar with is "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". Every so often Ray issues CD singles and sometimes EP singles (extended play...meaning more than 2 songs but less than 5) but ever since late 2009 Ray's issued music video singles onto YouTube on a fairly frequent basis. Given the road blocks set up on mainstream country radio and the various music video channels on television, YouTube is like a God-send for those of Ray's generation and even for those that are younger but may have a difficult time getting radio airplay.

A video single that reaches the masses is pretty much the equivalent of a radio single that reaches the masses...the only difference being the manner in which the music is being publicized. In Ray's case it's video and YouTube. 

The current music video's gotten an additional 4,551 unique views since Sunday and that brings the total so far to 63,083. To put it into perspective, Ray's video is being seen pretty much by more people on a daily basis than the average radio listener is going to hear the current #1 song during a given week.

Several blogs ago I mentioned that I'd started purchasing items on eBay once again after a nearly 5+ year hiatus. Since the return I've added 3 vinyl LP's to my collection of Ray Stevens items. I posted a picture of the RCA Greatest Hits LP and RCA's Collector's Series that I'd purchased...I'm waiting on several more vinyl LP's to arrive in the mail. One arrived the other day...

1984's He Thinks He's Ray Stevens is a Platinum selling album for Ray (over a million copies sold) and I'd only had the cassette copy for the longest time and then I purchased the re-issue on CD under the alternate title Mississippi Squirrel Revival at some point in the late 1990s. At long last I purchased the vinyl LP copy on eBay for the cheapest selling price (of course!) and there it is in all it's impeccable glory. The other 2 vinyl albums I purchased on eBay that should arrive by Saturday or Monday (at the latest) is MCA's Platinum selling Greatest Hits from 1987 and Ray's 1989 studio album, Beside Myself. I've got the 1987 release on cassette but have always wanted the LP copy, too. I also have the 1989 release on cassette and under a different title on CD, re-titled At His Best, but I've always wanted the vinyl copy as well. Once I get those vinyl albums in my possession I'll obviously post pictures for all to see.

I'm an obsessive fan of Ray's...can't you tell?? Here's the latest Ray Stevens music video...enjoy...

March 8, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 3...

Hello once early Sunday morning after setting our clocks ahead one hour finds me putting together another fan-created blog entry about the one and only Ray Stevens. It's Three Fifteen in the morning...funny thing is an hour ago it was One Fifteen...

The current music video from Ray Stevens, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me", is up to 58,532 unique views. I predict that the video is going to reach the 60,000+ level in a matter of hours. I'd be surprised if a week from today the video isn't nearing 100,000...but yet a lot of that is going to depend on further publicity, creating more awareness for the video...more high profile appearances on television/radio.

The upcoming CD, Here We Go Again!, is going to be released 15 days from now on March 23rd. You can pre-order the CD on AMAZON.

In my previous blog entry I embedded a lengthy CD preview that Ray uploaded onto YouTube a couple of days ago. Originally the video clip ran a little more than 9 minutes...but that particular upload was taken down and replaced by the 11 minute clip. Rather than create a completely different blog entry highlighting the updated preview clip I simply edited the older blog entry and replaced the 9 minute clip with the updated 11 minute clip.

Such things are common during early phases of a video (a video appearing on-line, only to have it vanish and then return).

A couple of years ago one of his music videos had gotten nearly 40,000 unique views in a matter of days but then it disappeared from YouTube...only for it to resurface again hours later but minus the impressive views it had racked up...essentially causing the video to start over from scratch.

I don't recall if there was ever an explanation given...but it's one of those things I come to expect on video hosting sites...and that's why I come off as obsessive at reporting the latest numbers for whatever his current YouTube video happens to be. In this case it's "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". I'm obsessive about the numbers just in case a video may vanish for a couple of hours or a couple of days. I'd like to at least have some sort of data reflecting the unique view tally should a video vanish but return with their original play total erased.

Even though I admit that music consumers much prefer Mp3's over the purchase of an actual CD there's still something to be said for the physical CD and the effort made at creating cover art. Today most music label executives may simply view cover art as a visual publicity tool simply because consumers are likely not going to actually purchase a physical copy of a CD...but instead they'll purchase digital music files that'll download directly to their computer or other listening device...but 'cover art' displaying the artist, etc. etc. is still used even if a project is Mp3 exclusive. As you can see from the upcoming Ray Stevens CD on the left hand side of the page the cover art displays Ray, a limousine, airplanes, and a gorilla chauffeur. Ironically, this image is being used on Amazon's product page for the Mp3 (!). As I've mentioned in several previous blog entries there are 2 publicity images for this project...the one for the Mp3 is the one I've included in this blog post (even though Mp3 releases aren't CD' still has cover art nonetheless!). The product page for the CD features a slightly different appearance. As mentioned in other blog posts I don't know if this is the official cover art that'll appear on the CD or if we'll get the other image instead but here's another look at the cover art side by side...

March 5, 2015

Ray Stevens: Here We Go Again audio samples...

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens...a surprising video upload emerged on YouTube yesterday. I provided a link to the upload in my previous blog but today I'm going to embed the video. It's an audio sample of the 12 songs that appear on Ray's upcoming CD, Here We Go Again!. Ray uploaded this yesterday as a promo of the upcoming CD...featuring snippets of each recording. I listened to the audio samples...and you're all going to love them, I'm sure.

Isn't that great?? I can't wait to hear the songs in their entirety. Yes, you heard it for yourselves...that's Ray Stevens covering the Ray Charles classic "What'd I Say?"...and I can not wait to hear "You Didn't Build That" in it's entirety. "There Must Be a Pill for This", based on the audio, sounds like pure satire for all that cures ya.

I came across a short and to the point reaction on a certain social media site yesterday, though, from an obvious hater of novelty songs. I'm not going to highlight or quote the offending remarks but let's just say the comment is rude and callous.

There's also several trolls on YouTube that get a thrill out of insulting Ray's music, his fans, and his political beliefs. That's the reason I prefer embedding his videos rather than leaving a link. You can, of course, view an embedded video from right here on the blog page and therefore bypass any offending comments left by trolls and race-baiting creeps on the actual YouTube page.

I'll continue to be on alert for that kind of commentary and I'll pass it on to you all. My advice is for people to rate a troll's comments with a thumbs down...never give a troll a reaction, though, in comment form. Starting an argument and being disruptive is exactly the desire of a troll. So, like I mentioned, simply thumb down a negative comment on YouTube. Once the comment gathers enough negative response it's removed from the page.

Ray's video about Taylor Swift has risen to 54,698 unique views by the way. The numbers for Ray's music video have been experiencing some freezing over the last couple of hours. Usually this means that a video is getting an overwhelming amount of plays and it's difficult for YouTube to catch up and so there's a freeze put in place...even though unique views are still being counted. Once the freeze is lifted the updated unique view total is posted underneath the video. Yesterday Ray's video was stuck at 52,489 for most of the day. During the duration of my typing up this blog entry the video's stayed at 54,698...and so it might be frozen again.

As far as the CD is concerned Amazon has the upcoming CD listed as being available now on March 23rd instead of March 24th. This may be a typo because the Mp3 is still showing March 24th as release day. Perhaps the label wants CD orders to be shipped ahead of time and so the release date for CD's have been moved ahead one day? I'd prefer Amazon ship CD orders several days ahead of release day so those that purchased a CD can receive their product in the mail a day or so before or after it's officially released later this month. If the CD's release date reverts back to March 24th at some point today then it's all been a glitch in the system.

March 4, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 2...

Hello all...the current music video from Ray Stevens continues it's successful streak on YouTube and other social media outlets. In an increase of nearly 7,000 unique views, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" has risen from 45,497 to 52,489 on the strength of video sharing.

Pre-order Ray's upcoming comedy CD, Here We Go Again!, at Amazon by clicking this LINK.

The comedy CD contains 12 songs altogether and you can listen to song samples HERE. I love the '50s rock feel of "Hearts Made of Stone" and there's a new political song on here, too, called "You Didn't Build That". It's the lead-in song to "Come to the U.S.A.", the illegal immigration classic from 2010.

I have no idea if any other song from the CD is going to be made into a YouTube music video or not but for now the big song at the moment for Ray is, of course, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". The CD becomes available on March there's 20 more days left until it's street date...

In other news, Ray Stevens is to be a guest on The Music City Show tomorrow night (Thursday) on RFD-TV at 8pm Eastern. This appearance was taped several months in advance and more than likely it'll feature performances of maybe a gospel song or 2 from The Gospel Collection, Volume One and discussion about his memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville. Since it's a taped appearance from several months ago don't look for any discussion about the current music video.

YouTube has a couple of promo videos containing Ray's appearance on the program. I posted one from early February, a performance of Ray singing "Everything is Beautiful". This clip features a snippet of his performance of "Mississippi Squirrel Revival"...

In case you missed the "Everything is Beautiful" performance that I embedded in a previous blog entry, here it is once more. Like the studio recording the television performance begins with a click track of the children singing the intro...

In the meantime, I bought a couple of vinyl albums on eBay a couple days back...actually during the last eek of February. The items arrived in the mail a couple of days ago. They're a couple of releases that RCA issued on Ray Stevens in the early/mid 1980s: 1983's Greatest Hits and 1985's Collector's Series. I have those particular compilations on cassette but decided to purchase their vinyl counterpart just to have them in my personal collection. I put on an old Hawaiian flowery shirt for the first picture.

Although the Greatest Hits collection is an RCA release the company only placed 2 recordings that Ray did for the label on this particular collection: 1980's "Shriner's Convention" and "The Dooright Family". The vinyl album, for whatever reason, features "The Dooright Family" as the lead-off track on Side 1 and "The Shriner's Convention" as the final track on Side 2. The cassette copy has the songs flip-flopped with "The Dooright Family" closing out the collection.

The later release, from 1985, is RCA-exclusive but unfortunately it features only 8 recordings he did for the label. It doesn't even include 2 of his single releases for the label in 1980 and 1982 respectively but nonetheless Collector's Series is the only commercially released album to showcase his all too brief RCA period (1979-1983). He never released any recordings for RCA in 1979 or 1983 but contractually he was still part of their label. He became an RCA artist in the latter half of 1979 and he departed the label in the middle part of 1983. He released 3 studio albums for RCA (1980, 1981, and 1982) and the label issued this Greatest Hits compilation in 1983 and Collector's Series in 1985. By 1985 Ray had released one studio album for Mercury in late 1983 but then moved on to MCA in the middle part of 1984 for a highly successful 5-year stay.

March 1, 2015

Ray Stevens: Viral Video's Swift success...

As the calendar flips from February to March 2015 so do the unique views of the latest music video from Ray Stevens, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". The video's numbers at the time of my previous blog entry had the video ith a little over 40,000 unique views. Less than 2 days later and the video's obtained more than 5,000 additional discoveries. The current number is 45,497. By the time this blog post goes live on the internet the total number of unique views should place it in the 45,500 - 46,000 range.

In case you have no idea of the video I'm referring to, here it is for you all to enjoy...

As you'll see once you click the video's play button the action takes place inside a fictional asylum...and so right off the bat you're fully aware that the character Ray's playing isn't among the rational or the sane. There are plenty of catchy lyrics...particularly those being sung by the choir of nurses. If you're familiar at all with Ray's videos you certainly have to be familiar with the faces of the women that play the nurses. I've never found out the names of the 2 dark haired women but the blond one is Sabrina...she's appeared in nearly all of Ray's music videos from 2009 to the present.

The video's experienced some swift success over the course of the last several days but, to date, Ray hasn't made any statements or given any interviews since the video's debut several days ago.

The video hit on February 24th...late in the afternoon...more closer to evening...and so it hasn't been on-line for a full week yet.

It's anyone's guess if Ray is going to make any kind of radio or TV appearances to promote the video or if he's content on the success it's having without the added publicity of interviews and television appearances. There have been a couple of news items that have been floating around the internet since February 24th...including an official statement promoting the upcoming CD/music video...but there's not been any kind of one-on-one interview conducted with Ray since the video's debut to get his reaction about the video's meteoric rise on YouTube.

As the calendar turns to March it's now only 23 days until the release of Ray's upcoming CD. I'm certain that the video, by then, will have crossed 100,000 unique views.

Yes, that's a bold prediction...but there's a lot of time remaining for upcoming publicity and coverage for both the upcoming CD and the music video that it's not too much of a stretch to make such a prediction. Considering the video's near the 50,000 range with hardly any traditional publicity outside of video sharing it's entirely possible for the numbers to double once Ray starts to make the rounds of the talk/interview programs.