Sunday, January 29, 2017
Bobbi Martin - Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968)
This is not the best album you'll ever hear, but it's an interesting one as these things go. I'm mostly putting it out now as a placeholder, because if I put out the followup to my last Badfinger immediately afterwards, people might miss it, thinking it was still the old post.
Harper Valley P.T.A. is Bobbi Martin's third album. Martin was a country/adult contemporary singer whose biggest success came with a sort of anti-women's lib anthem from 1970, "For The Love Of Him," which got to #13 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. But that was an album away from this one.
This one, which is long out of print, is a cash-in effort, titled to capitalize on Jeannie C. Riley's crossover country hit "Harper Valley, P.T.A." The song, which was written by Tom T. Hall, was extremely popular and was also recorded at the time by singers Billie Jo Spears and Margie Singleton. The Bobbi Martin version must have been a major rush job. According to Billboard, this album was released in September of 1968. Riley's version came out in August of that year.
But Great Art can crop up in the most unexpected places. Here, it rears its head in the form of "Misty Blue," a gorgeous ballad penned by Buddy Holly compatriot Bob Montgomery. The song was first done by Wilma Burgess in 1966 in a seriously old-timey country version, which got to #4 on the country chart. Ten years later, it became a pop/ R&B smash for Dorothy Moore. But the version on this album, while not a hit, has a lot to offer. I think Martin's vocal beats Burgess' and this arrangement is more palatable to modern tastes than the one on the Burgess single.
Most of the rest of the songs here are other covers and most are no great shakes. Nor is the sound quality particularly good. Still it's an obscurity and presents a snapshot of the way the music biz worked in the 1960s, when record companies would rush-release soundalike cover versions, hoping to usurp the original artist's hit.
1. Harper Valley P.T.A.
2. Empty Arms
3. She'll Have To Go
4. Be Mine
5. Gentle On My Mind
6. You'll Cry Tomorrow
7. I Love Him
8. Little Green Apples
9. Misty Blue
10. I Think Of You