Canadian-born Ray Griff was something of a countrypolitan auteur, producing and arranging many of his own albums, playing piano and writing most of his own material. During the 1960s and '70s he established himself as a successful songwriter, with many of his compositions being recorded by stars of the era, most notably Jerry Lee Lewis' version of "Who's Gonna Play This Old Piano." Here's a quick look at his work...
Ray Griff "The World Of Ray Griff" (RCA-Canada, 1977)
A retrospective covering his work from 1965-71... And so far this seems to be the only best-of collection of his work to date.
Ray Griff "A Ray Of Sunshine" (Dot, 1968)
Ray Griff "Ray Griff Sings" (Royal American, 1972) (LP)
Ray Griff "The Entertainer" (GRT, 1972)
Ray Griff "The Middle Of The Road" (GRT, 1973)
Hey, he said it... not me!
Ray Griff "Songs For Everyone" (Dot, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Griff & Jim Foglesong)
Actually, quite a good record, for the countrypolitan era. Mostly midtempo songs, with lush yet restrained arrangements, good playing throughout, and a strong repertoire featuring several Ray Griff originals. Interesting to hear how he echoes other piano-playing country dudes, particularly Mickey Gilley and Charlie Rich... Highlights include "Darlin'," "Somewhere Between Atlanta And Mobile," "It Rains The Same In Missouri" and "Another Sad Affair," with the title track coming in as a kitschy, goofy '70s sunshine-country classic, with a recitation intro and everything. The only real dud is his cover of "You Can Have Her," but otherwise this is totally worth checking out. Also includes Griff's own version of "Who's Gonna Play This Old Piano."
Ray Griff "Expressions" (ABC-Dot, 1975) (LP)
Ray Griff "Ray Griff" (Capitol, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Griff)
An unmemorable album, where Griff alternates between gooey, overwrought countrypolitan/sunshine country and hyperactive, somewhat desperate-sounding uptempo numbers. One of these opens the album, the pop-novelty tune, "You Ring My Bell," a bizarrely clumsy song which miraculously charted in the Top 20 -- the one thing that's interesting about it is the odd, tinny tone of the clavinet which Griff himself plays, which comes back later in the album. It's a distinctive sound, but might have been more at home on a psychedelic rock record several years earlier. Most of the songs are duds, although "If I Let Her Come In" wound up being his biggest career hit, narrowly missing the Top Ten. I guess if I had to pick a track to remember off this disc, it would be the album's closer, a heartfelt gospel number called "Dear Jesus," where Griff thanks his savior for giving him talent and the good health to use it. Mostly, though, this is skippable.
Ray Griff "The Last Of The Winfield Amateurs" (Capitol, 1977) (LP)
Ray Griff "Raymond's Place" (Capitol, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Griff)
Solid songwriting, though his vocals are uneven and the arrangements are often sluggish and seem a little wobbly. I guess this could be seen as more of a songwriter's demo album, although I'm not sure how many of these songs were recorded by other artists. This was his last album for Capitol, and two tracks released as singles wound up charting as strictly Back Forty material. Devoted fans of '70s countrypolitan -- or of the Jerry Lee Lewis ouvre -- might want to check this out, although most casual country fans could just as well skip it.
Ray Griff "Ray's Bar And Grill" (Boot, 1978) (LP)
Hick Music Index