1968 Ray Stevens – Mr. Businessman

1968 Ray Stevens – Mr. Businessman 

While he may be best known for his humorous and novelty records, in 1968, Ray Stevens decided to record an album of serious songs. He had not released an album of new songs since 1963, and before the new album came out, he released a serious single on Monument Records, Unwind.

While the song did better in Nashville, it only reached #52 on the Hot 100. That was still better than any other single he recorded over the prior five years (including several singles for Monument), so the company released his album. Ray wrote all but one of the songs on the album (and co-wrote a second song), and they were a big change from his comedy recordings of the past.

The single chosen for his next release was Mr. Businessman. The song had strange tempo changes and dealt with the serious side of the business world, but the record still reached #28 on the Hot 100.

One more single followed from the album, but The Great Escape stalled at #114 and never reached the Hot 100.

Ray didn’t exactly switch to serious songs on a permanent basis. His first single in 1969, Gitarzan, was a novelty record that popped up into the top ten on the Hot 100 before fading away.

The following year, Ray recorded a serious record that arguably became his biggest hit, Everything Is Beautiful. Others might argue that his biggest hit was another comedy gem, The Streak, but since both songs reached #1 on the Hot 100, we can simply be happy that Ray could easily straddle genres.


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