Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ray Stevens - Crackin' Up

Here's the thing: when I started this project, I promised I would review all the albums in my collection regardless of how guilty a pleasure or how odd a choice. I think Ray Stevens is the point at which most people say, "I can handle your Air Supply fascination and your man crush on Neil Diamond, but Ray Stevens is a bridge too far." You're not necessarily wrong.

Here's the thing: when I was in 6th grade, there was nothing funnier to me than Ray Stevens (you read that right, not even The Smothers Brothers, who were a close second). Ray Stevens has exactly the cheesy humor I was into at the time. My friend John and I would sing Ray Stevens albums in their entirety from memory. By the time I got to 8th grade, I had figured out the fact that girls aren't impressed if you can perform "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens" from memory and I taped over all my Ray Stevens cassettes with whatever it was I was listening to at the time. Fast forward to the time I went to Country Thunder in 2007 (saw Reba and she was awesome) and reconnected with my roots and decided not to be ashamed of my musical past just so I could impress the people behind the counter at the record store (who tend to not be impressed by anything). I started buying some of the pivotal country albums from my youth, wearing my Air Supply fandom on my shirt sleeve, and taking my Neil Diamond out from under a bushel. The next logical step was to make amends with Ray Stevens. This is one of three Ray Stevens albums I picked up at that time.

This album, and all Ray Stevens material, sounds dated. He uses a lot of cheesy synths in his backing tracks, and his sense of humor is cheesy as well. There's a part of me that can't stop loving some of these songs, but I'm not going to pull them out very often. I think this album and the next two Ray Stevens entries I do are more a proof to myself that I'm still basically the same person I've ever been. Anyway, Crackin' Up is pretty standard Ray Stevens fare. If you like any Ray Stevens, you'll probably like it all (except for the whacko tea party crap. He got political in the last couple years and it's a major disappointment).

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