Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 April 09 • Monday

A movie can be based on anything and a few of them are based on popular songs. One such is our 512th Soundtrack of the Week: Harper Valley P.T.A., whose score is mostly by Nelson Riddle.

No surprise that the first track is the title song, the source material for the movie itself. It's sung by Jeannie C. Riley and its popularity made her the first woman to hit the tops of the Billboard. Hot 100 and the U.S. Hot Country Singles charts with the same song (according to Wikipedia).

It's a good song, similar to "Ode to Billie Joe", which was also made into a movie and which similarity was apparently intentional. Tom T. Hall wrote the song "Harper Valley P.T.A." and a couple other songs to the movie, "Mr. Harper" and "Widow Jones", both sung by Barbara Eden and both zeroing in on characters mentioned in the title song. They're both good but not at the same level as "Harper Valley P.T.A.".

There are some teenager-oriented songs in here as well, such as Jerry Lee Lewis's classic rocker "High School Confidential" (which was also used as the title song for a movie, in 1958) and Johnny Cash's "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" (so far not a movie though that could change at any time).

The only other song of note (excepting an instrumental version of the title song) is a somewhat bizarre Carol Channing and Rita Remington number called "Whatever Happened to Charlie Brown". It's an uptempo country song that's quite nice and of course is memorable for Channing's unique and odd voice.

The rest of it is Nelson Riddle score, which ranges from easy-listening lounge jazz ("Dee's Visit" and "Alice's Place") to more late-night sultry moods ("Willie May"), a disco number ("Ice Cream Disco") and for some reason a Mozart piano sonata credited on the record as "Twin Tune" by Nelson Riddle.

Riddle chooses to feature the clarinet quite a bit in the music here and it would be useful to know who's playing it, but there's very little information here.