Cledus T. Judd

Boogity Boogity: A Tribute to the Comic Genius of Ray Stevens

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As strange as it is to see Cledus T. Judd as a post-Celebrity Fit Club stud muffin on the cover of Boogity Boogity, the motivation and execution of this tribute to "the comic genius of Ray Stevens" is much stranger. Cledus recorded his tribute a bit before a reality television fitness show turned him to just about the hottest man ever to record a novelty tune, back when he was at Koch Nashville, which went belly up. Cledus held onto the album as he searched for a label, then when he signed with Curb and announced a guest list that had country star power all over it, it sure seemed like Boogity was going to be a very important and grand album for country comedy, because really, nothing in the genre before had this combination of reverence and Vince Gill. Boogity has Vince Gill, and it has plenty of reverence, too, plus a heaping helping of obsession. Cledus loves the work of Ray Stevens, there's no doubting that, but he chooses to re-create dated material like "The Streak" and "Gitarzan" so faithfully that it's eerie, and there's a reason albums filled with novelty songs are rarely eerie. Stevens' delivery, the trio of female backup singers he always preferred, the canned laughter he dropped on his songs, and even the flatter production soundscape that was just the way it was when these songs were hits are re-created faithfully, admirably, and with no clues as to why one shouldn't just go listen to the originals. This isn't always the case, since the all-star cast on "Everything Is Beautiful" offers a unique -- and moving -- touch, while the timeless question "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?" is delivered with enough kick that it does sound like it came from the age of Kenny Chesney. These moments are truly good times, and when Cledus chases the mythical Margaret it's pretty darn funny. While true Stevens or Cledus fans will find that more than enough, most will find this labor of love has nothing new to say about men running around naked, apes that play the six-string, or Shriners named Bubba.

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