Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music by Ray Stevens

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Ray Stevens is no fool. The savvy businessman has been rerecording his best-loved comedy songs for rerelease on his own Clyde Records, named for the camel that sent him on his now-five-decade trek across the sands of success, courtesy of 1962’s “Ahab, the Arab.”

But what he did next is almost crazy: Ray began rerecording several decades’ worth of comedy songs, saluting the genre with which he’s most associated. His fascinating Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music contains eight discs’ worth of musical history (plus a bonus disc and informative book) and explores an intriguingly broad definition of comedy, from country and pop oddities to parodies, holiday novelties and any song that delivers fun.

Ray’s consummate musical skills are evident in the tasteful liberties he takes on certain songs as well as the detail he captures when copying original versions—especially his own hits. Most impressive are Ray’s versatile vocal characterizations, which bring these remakes to hilarious life.

Nope, Ray’s no fool—but, luckily for us, he sure can sound like one.

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