Victoria Hallman – From Birmingham To Bakersfield
These first 10 tracks were produced originally by the legendary Buck Owens. Alabama vocalist Victoria Hallman (aka Jesse Rose McQueen) is backed on the first songs by Buck’s band The Buckaroos with the last 3 bonus tunes with 2 former Elvis Presley musicians, a former Seatrain member & other well-known studio musicians.
The initial tracks were recorded between January & April 1982 with 1980 bonus cuts added. This collection From Birmingham To Bakersfield (Drops April 21–Omnivore) was produced for release by Victoria with Randy Poe & Cheryl Pawelski. Her country approach is more traditional than what passes for country music today. She’s from the school of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette with the timbre of Jody Miller.
The material is appealing but commercially some songs suffer from the same 60s embellishments that Timi Yuro (she sang with Willie Nelson at Liberty Records) was bogged down with. Too many strings & overly-produced orchestrations.
Yet, Ms. Hallman has a rich aggressive authoritative voice. She should project with a minimum of competing instruments. But she, like the 50s’ Mimi Roman & Kitty Ford (same woman) had enormous talent, was a good-looking performer with lots of appeal & appeared as Miss Honeydew on CBS’ “Hee-Haw” TV series with Elvis’ former girlfriend Linda Thompson. But it didn’t move the career barometer to the heights of Kitty Wells, Loretta, or Tammy.
I understand & accept that this may be what Victoria liked personally in her arrangements. She may have wanted a big production trimming. She possessed more of a show biz voice than country girl pipes. Broadway, theatre – “Oklahoma” type musicals.
However, the Sue Thompson-type slow song “How’s Everything,” is charming. All the songs are good, the production’s acceptable & it is varied enough to be entertaining. Many tracks are obviously crafted as stand-alone possible hit fodder for radio. Each has its hook firmly in place. “Please, Please Me,” has a contagious arrangement & it’s well performed.
The potential as a serious vocalist & not a pop-chanteuse comes with “Just a Breath Away,” (a Skeeter Davis-Jackie DeShannon style) & continues solidly into the 3 bonus tracks. Victoria’s timbre has presence & the strings are more liberally effective. Lovely stuff.
Highlights – “Bottle Up My Tears,” “Lay Your Heart On Mine,” “How’s Everything,” “Please, Please Me,” “Just a Breath Away,” “24 Hour Woman,” “Sexy Movies,” “Close Enough For Me” & “Mama Tried.”
Musicians – First 10: Eugene Moles & Michael Dana (guitar), Terry Christofferson (steel guitar), Jim Shaw (keyboards), Doyle Curtsinger (bass) & Kip Lewis (drums).
The 3 bonus cuts: James Burton (guitar), Glen D. Hardin (keyboards), Jay Dee Maness (pedal steel), Emory Gordy, Jr. (bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Richard Greene (fiddle), Victoria Hallman (producer/backing vocal) & Herb Pedersen (backing vocals).
CD cover & with Buck Owens photos courtesy of Victoria. The 34-minute CD @ Amazon & https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/from-birmingham-to-bakersfield/