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Placed together for the first time, our friends at Ace Records have come through with all singer-songwriter, producer and more Ray Stevens’ Monument singles. Among the 24 songs are six top 100 American hits!
While Stevens gained much of his fame with his humourus songs he never tired of covering and writing songs more akin to everyday life. The struggles of people in relationships and covers of (the first) Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” some R&B and songs with a message as in his own “Have A Little Talk With Myself” and clever ode “Mary My Secretary”. He even did one song from Bob Dylan “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” to go with sing-a-longs “Along Came Jones” and “Yakety Yak”.
Big productions complete with catchy vocal harmonies help make up a feel good factor is present in much of his work as in “Party People” , “Mr. Business Man” and the funky “Freddie Feelgood (And his Funky Little Five Piece Band)”. Aided by the mellow, thought provoking “Face The Music” before dropping back to the quirky “Gitarzan” and real wacky “Bagpipes — That’s My Bag”. Stevens through his versatility and inbuilt desire to entertain these attributes may have been a distraction but he was in all honesty, he was a musical genius.
I await volume two. Maybe they will take a look at his work of the 1980s? I recall he did some interesting and often humorus country recordings. It was during a big transition period on the country music front. Exciting times they were too as you had the New Traditionalists come to the aid of the established stars of Willie (Nelson) and Waylon (Jennings) George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. Plus those who were left to bridge the gap between the old and new Emmylou Harris, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs and Vern Gosdin (though older than the others mentioned) as older acts found themselves dropped by their respective labels. But that is another story. One ACE might one day give their attention.
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