Oct 07

RAY STEVENS – “The Streak”

FT + Popular77 comments • 7,315 views

#350, 15th June 1974

Ray Stevens - The Streak“The Streak” isn’t awful as comedy records go, in fact musically it slips down very easily, a perky country number with a few good rhymes for “streak” as its highlight. But not only does Stevens succumb to the blight of the comedy song and shove a laugh track on his record, he also insists on using it for his least funny gag, the laboured hick voice he puts on for the streak-witnesser. Goodwill in shortish supply here.

But anyway, streaking. I was nine years old when Erica Roe streaked and…. actually, I don’t remember it at all. Sorry! But I do remember streaking being a “thing”, though somehow I assumed it was specifically British – there’s something a bit Donald McGill about it, especially as it seems to happen a lot at cricket matches. A little Wikipedia research reveals that not only was I completely wrong but that Ray Stevens was highly topical – Time Magazine had only brought the word to light the year before and by ’74 the craze was full-blown. Wikipedia also confirms that streaking is with us still though these days the streakers tend to have the names of insurance websites painted on their backs. Poor show – in the metaphorical sense.



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  1. 31
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Gawd, “Settle Down Now,” another one Hatch and Trent tossed off in their tea break. Very much in the mode of their unforgettable “Mr And Mrs (Be Nice To Each Other),” the theme from that fantastic daytime quiz show hosted by Derek Bailey.

  2. 32
    Erithian on 24 Oct 2007 #

    If Brucie did TOTP in October ’75 it wasn’t a long time away from Bing Crosby’s appearance on the show doing “That’s What Life Is All About”. Reportedly he emerged into the studio and drawled “Hi, gang!” to the astonished audience who promptly burst into a round of applause.

    Such a shame that as late as ’75 there are TOTP editions of which no tape survives. Billy, do you know how complete the BBC archives are after that date?

  3. 33
    mike on 24 Oct 2007 #

    I wonder if the BBC still have the tape of Bill Haley & The Comets’ March 1974 TOTP appearance, in support of the re-issued “Rock Around The Clock” (it reached #12). My abiding memory is of one clearly very pissed off young woman in the audience, dead centre in the shot, refusing to dance like everyone else, and instead standing stock still with her arms folded. I took this at the time as a wrong-headed, and yet somehow rather admirable, generational protest, i.e. she didn’t come all this way, to Britain’s most hip and happening pop TV show, only to endure a bunch of BORING OLD MEN…

  4. 34
    Billy Smart on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Here’s a list of how many episodes of Top of the Pops exist year by year. Its a sorry showing;

    1964 0
    1965 0
    1966 0
    1967 1
    1968 2
    1969 1
    1970 4
    1971 7
    1972 3
    1973 8
    1974 6
    1975 9
    1976 34
    1977 48 and from 1978 they all survive. Plus some freestanding clips of individual performances.

    The penultimate missing show includes Television performing ‘Prove It’ in the studio. Ngghh! How frustrating!

  5. 35
    Billy Smart on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Oh, and…

    Ronnie Corbett performed Fanny on the Top of the Pops of the 14th of November 1974, presented by Dave Lee Travis. Also in the studio that week were Ace, Cilla Black, Donny Osmond, Eddie Holman, Gary Glitter, Lynsey De Paul, Suzi Quatro and The Crystals (?! It says here, anyway). No, this one didn’t survive, either.

  6. 36
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Yes, “Da Doo Ron Ron” had been reissued and was back in the Top 20 so that is plausible.

    “Ronnie Corbett performed Fanny” – insert punchline of your choice (try to avoid invoking the Nolan Sisters)…

  7. 37
    Erithian on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Surely they’d all have been underage in 1974?!

  8. 38
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    I’m sure there were a couple of significantly older ones even then, but if not I guess he would have had to make do with, um, the Beverley Sisters…

  9. 39
    intothefireuk on 24 Oct 2007 #

    There are some performances that still exist via some enthusiastic BBC VT ops making their own TOTP compilations and keeping them in their own private collections. Some of these have already appeared on ebay (see this recent one – http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=170156028931&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=007)and hopefully will see the light of day at some point.

  10. 40
    Mark G on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Rewind to comment 28:

    I’m old enoough to remember the badges and things re: I’m backing Britain…

    But remember folks: The ending of “Carry on up the Khyber” where the “I’m backing Britain” flag is raised, and Peter Barkworth turns to the camera and says “of course, you know, they’re all mad!”

    It was only the last time I saw this film where I got what he was REALLY meaning!

  11. 41
    Waldo on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Don’t look, Ethel!

    Was this a novelty record or was it not? Not only that but a very dated novelty record, for although streaking endured (I remember an absolute vision of a girl entertaining the chaps – and no doubt one or two females – as Richard Krajicek and Malivai Washington posed by the net before their 1996 Wimbledon Final. Krajicek merely twitched slightly but Washington’s look had to be seen to be believed, his eyes bulging like a cartoon wolf-whistler. No wonder Krajicek put him through the blender in straight sets), the practice was very much rooted in the seventies as a worldwide phenomenon.

    Ray Stevens’ streaker, of course, was male, a guy who appears on three separate occasions to the same middle-aged American couple. The husband (as told to an “action news reporter”) recounts these events and of his attempts to protect his wife’s eyes from them but is then left to stare incredulously at the streaker again as he sees that his wife has joined him.

    Dated it may be but this was a marvellous piece of comedy by a much underrated and clever artist, who was just as adept at Country and MOR pop as he was at off the wall humour and was for a time one of the biggest name entertainers in the United States. The OTT canned laughter tracks was a Stevens speciality. “The Streak” may have owed its success to simply seizing the moment (which certainly applies to an absolutely huge number one not far away from us now) but this was high jinks indeed and quite a period piece now, I think.

  12. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Um, shouldn’t that be Peter Butterworth? (xpost)

  13. 43
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    “Mr Businessman,” that was his other “socially aware” song.

    I preferred Jimmy Savile’s version of “Ahab The Arab.”

  14. 44
    Tom on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Some amazing stuff on this comments thread might I say – particularly enjoyed the dedicated streaking comic and the budgie who could say “Ray Stevens”.

  15. 45
    Caledonianne on 24 Oct 2007 #

    #31 Marcello

    That’ll be Derek BATEY “When your husband comes home at night does he put on his slippers

    (a) as soon as he gets home
    (b) after he’s had his tea
    (c) he doesn’t wear slippers?

    Does your wife
    (a) always buy a particular brand of toothpaste
    (b) buy whatever’s on special offer at the supermarket
    (c) wear dentures?”

    Cutting edge stuff at Border Television (Chairman, Lord Bragg of Wigton). And then there was the Julian Clary retread..

    And – yup – Just Another Saturday was smashing, even if set in (shudder) Greenock.

  16. 46
    Mark G on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Today, we are mostly getting surnames wrong…

  17. 47
    mike on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Having just looked up the lyrics to “The Streak”, I am shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you – to find that I have had the chorus all wrong for the past 33 years.

    MY VERSION: “Here he comes (boogity boogity (*)), there he goes (boogity boogity)…”

    CORRECT VERSION: “Here he comes (look at that, look at that), there he goes (look at that, look at that)…”

    (*) But pronounced “booga-dah booga-dah”, as per some imagined Deep South accent…

  18. 48
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Today we are missing DELIBERATE IRONY

    i.e. Derek Bailey presenting Mr & Mrs:
    “This is a quiz show, right? Does it go on like this? That’s my problem, you see. It goes on like a quiz show goes on and it brooks no argument. Doing quiz shows is fine except you’ve got this thing called a quiz show and it ascribes an endgame to a process which to me has no end. What do people do when they’re watching quiz shows? Have a cup of tea? That’s part of the problem. You’re not required to give your full, undivided attention to it. There seems limited scope for any improvisational stratagems here. You wouldn’t have this if Han were producing…”

    Derek Batey from control booth: “OK you’re fired, I’ll do it meself! Pah!”

  19. 49
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    The parent album, if memory serves, was entitled Boogity Boogity.

  20. 50
    Waldo on 24 Oct 2007 #

    For fans of “Mr and Mrs”, may I refer you to a little piece by Derek and Clive called “Mona” from one of their albums. Wonderful.

  21. 51
    mike on 24 Oct 2007 #

    “Peter Fenn is going to play you three tunes on the Hammond Organ. Which one is your wife’s favourite?”

    1. Bye Bye Blackbird.
    2. Where Do I Begin? (Theme From Love Story).
    3. Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.

  22. 52
    mike on 24 Oct 2007 #

    “Derek Bailey is going to play you three tunes, on a guitar which he has “prepared” especially for today’s show. Which one is your wife’s favourite?”

    1. ii………………ii………………ktooo………ah-uh-ah-uh………….KRRRKH……………..bi-doop!
    3. Let Me Go, Lover.

  23. 53
    Waldo on 24 Oct 2007 #

    “Okay, Annie. When your uzbund comes ‘ome from t’labour exchange, what d’yoo ‘ave fer t’bugger’s tee?

    1. Dish of tripe with bread an’ drippin’?
    2. Ferret an’ chips with bread an’ drippin’?
    3. Fois gras followed by duck a l’orange and a bottle of Chateau Margeaux 1961?”

  24. 54
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Now why did he never do that all those years he was in the Op Knox house band? (xpost)

  25. 55
    Caledonianne on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Ha! Ha! Unforgettable Derek Bailey. Very good.

    That will teach me to read this at work…

  26. 56
    crag on 24 Oct 2007 #

    Speaking of Mr and Mrs one of my favorite TV (clutch clipboard to chest and adopt Nordenesque voice) “bloopers” was from the US version where the permagrinning host asked Wife #1 ‘Where is the most unusual place your husband has made love to you?’ to which, after some thought she innocently replied ‘In the ass?’
    Apologies if easily offended….

  27. 57
    crag on 24 Oct 2007 #

    As for the Streak…”Don’t Look Ethel?” More like don’t listen – offensively bad.

  28. 58
    Mark G on 25 Oct 2007 #

    OK (pinggg) NEXT!

  29. 59
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Oct 2007 #

    Ah yes, the next number one…tricky subject, officer…

  30. 60
    Nick on 2 Nov 2007 #

    When you are 72 years of age, any kind of comedy is definitely fruit for the soul. I thought “The Streaker” was one of Ray’s best. I used to have his record but I really dont know what happened to it.
    These days the pension does not run to buying disks.

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