The current Christmas CD from Ray Stevens is wonderful!!! Ray offers us his third Christmas project (following the 1997 release of the all-comical CHRISTMAS THROUGH A DIFFERENT WINDOW and 2009's all-serious RAY STEVENS CHRISTMAS) and it contains a combination of uptempo, ballad, and comical performances.
The title track, his current music video release on YouTube, tells the story of Mary and Joseph making their travels across the regions but from the point of view of the donkey. Not being too familiar with modern-day country music happenings I didn't realize the song had already been recorded by one of it's writers, Jeff Bates, and had been nick-named The Donkey Song. I hadn't heard the Jeff Bates recording but at some point I'll probably listen to it just to see if Ray gave it a different arrangement or whatever.
There are a couple of Christmas standards on this project as there have been on the previous Christmas projects.
This time around Ray provides his recordings of "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". A couple of recordings previously only found on Ray's 9-CD box set, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RECORDED COMEDY MUSIC, make appearances: "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and his take on Elmo and Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer".
In addition to the title track, "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me", and some of the uptempo songs he also delivers ballads in the form of "Christmas Bells in the Steeple", "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day", and "Merry Christmas". The latter a song that's been only available as a music video on YouTube for a couple of years; it marks it's debut on CD with this project. If you're not familiar with the song it calls out political correctness and attacks the belief held by some that saying "Merry Christmas" is somehow offensive and therefore people should only say the generic "happy holidays" or "season's greetings".
One of the songs that I hope doesn't go overlooked is his take on "All I Want for Christmas Is You" because not only is his performance of it so good it provides further evidence (if anybody needed any) that Ray can more or less take any song and make it sound as if he originated it. Yes, the song should be familiar to pop music listeners as it's the same song once recorded by Mariah Carey (she co-wrote it, too). Upon seeing the title of the song listed on the CD I at first thought it to be Ray's version of a Christmas staple by Vince Vance and the Valiants by the same name so I was completely surprised to hear him cover the Mariah Carey song.
Given Ray's reputation among the general audience as being a comical/novelty artist I suspect that the song that'll receive the most attention aside from the title track is "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa Claus)". In this performance Ray delivers the story of a cat that's been de-clawed by his owners, much to the cat's dismay, and the cat offers a compelling reason for his need for claws.
It's a 10 song collection of Christmas songs and it's 5-star excellent!!! Here are the other Christmas projects from Ray Stevens...
Christmas Through a Different Window Originally released in 1997 on cassette and CD. Re-issued in 2009 and 2012.
Ray Stevens Christmas Originally released in 2009 on CD and Mp3. Re-issued in 2012.