Ray Stevens Face the Music: The Complete Monument Singles 1965-1970 CD
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Description & Features+
Ray Stevens signed to Monument Records in 1965 with the intention that he'd put aside foolish things and be a real artist. Two singles later, Stevens started goofing around again, a reflection of how poorly "Party People" and "Devil May Care" performed on the charts, but he never quite abandoned his desire to make serious music, something made clear on Ace's Face the Music: The Complete Monument Singles 1965-1970. During these years, Stevens flitted between novelties and paisley-era prog pop, getting hits with the former and getting nowhere with the latter. Such dueling sensibilities mean Face the Music is something of a schizophrenic listen, where funny voices jut up against attempts to be Roy Orbison, Joe South, the Bee Gees, and, primarily, Glen Campbell. Stevens opted to replicate not only the lush sunset horizons of Campbell's Webb covers, but also covered Kris Kristofferson, delivering "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" with an endemic hamminess that served him well on the silly tunes but turned smarmy on the earnest ones. When Stevens is in South mode -- he covered "Party People," and originals like "There's One in Every Crowd" are cut from the same cloth -- this complements the material, but when he tries to say big, important things about big, important issues ("Mr. Businessan," "The Minority"), he seems unctuous. This inconsistency is certainly interesting, since all the different styles -- including big hits like "Gitarzin" and "Along Came Jones" -- turns this into a cross-section of the late-'60s pop mainstream, a place where there was plenty of turmoil and not always a lot of taste. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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