Bobbi Martin

Harper Valley P.T.A.

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Harper Valley P.T.A. reinforces the unfortunate image of Bobbi Martin as a glorified cover artist, since the title track was issued to compete with Jeannie C. Riley's version. (In 1961, Martin's cover of "Wooden Heart" was released to compete with Joe Dowell's version, which was itself a cover). The album's country songs and adult contemporary favorites blend together as one through the orchestrated production and Martin's bombastic vocals. A few of the songs -- "Gentle on My Mind," "Little Green Apples," "Misty Blue" -- were so widely recorded at this time they lost their power to excite, but Martin handles them with passion. Her revival of Teresa Brewer's "Empty Arms" is notable since Sonny James took it to the top of the country charts a few years later; perhaps this was her lost opportunity for a substantial hit. Martin's performance of "He Called Me Baby" sounds remarkably similar to Connie Francis' and is ultimately more satisfying than the trendy easy listening fare.