All-Time Greatest Hits

All-Time Greatest Hits

by Ray Stevens


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This suffers from a major drawback that prevents it from being a definitive Ray Stevens greatest-hits compilation: It doesn't have his early-'60s Mercury hits. (The versions of "Ahab the Arab" and "Harry the Hairy Ape," his two biggest singles for the label, are not the Mercury originals, but re-recordings from the 1969 Gitarzan album.) Other than that, this covers the major bases of his recording career, including his Monument hits from the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, such as "Mr. Businessman," "Gitarzan," "The Streak," "Misty," and "Everything Is Beautiful." The appearance of his 1960 single "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" -- which bubbled under the Top 100 before the company that owned the rights to the Sgt. Preston television character had it taken off the market -- is a bonus. That song is rare and, like "Ahab the Arab," it's a Coasters-like novelty with more of a mainstream novelty approach than the Coasters used. Otherwise, this dwells on Stevens' commercial prime, when he alternated between novelty/comedy songs and sentimental, middle-of-the-road pop tunes with a country flavor. It's an odd and not wholly integrated mixture, and plenty of his low-charting singles in both idioms are represented, from "Freddie Feelgood (And His Funny Little Five Piece Band)" to "Unwind" and his covers of the Coasters' "Along Came Jones" and Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down."

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