Premiere: Victoria Hallman – ‘Lay Your Heart on Mine’
Fans of Hee Haw Honeys solo material have been looking down into the bottom of a deep dark empty well for many years now. Apart from Kathie Lee Johnson’s pre-Gifford gospel disco classic ‘Finders Keepers’, a few Gunilla Hutton singles (OH MY GOD!! ‘Chowchilla Dust’ though!!), and Barbi Benton’s genuinely incredible albums on Playboy Records in the 70s, there really hasn’t been anything else to get excited about… until now, that is.
Hee Haw Honey Victoria Hallman’s lost album, From Birmingham to Bakersfield finally sees the light of day 40 years after it was recorded; and from what we’ve heard so far it was well worth the wait.
Following the release of the breakneck country pop belter ‘Bottle Up My Tears’ last month, the next taste of the album comes with the achingly gorgeous dancefloor filler ‘Lay Your Heart on Mine’.
With its sweeping disco strings and Hallman’s perfectly understated vocal, the song picks up all its worries and fears and takes them out on the town for a spin beneath the neon lights and glitter balls. It’s like a long-lost Bob James 80s TV theme tune; a country disco classic that could have easily opened up any of the Ladies of Too Slow to Disco compilations. ‘Lay Your Heart On Mine’ is as perfect as pop country gets.
“In 1982, with Buck Owens producing my new album, I wasn’t the one choosing songs,” Hallman explains 40 years on. “But when an unknown songwriter approached me with a demo of ‘Lay Your Heart on Mine,’ I knew it was a breakout hit, and with some convincing, Buck agreed to cut it. It’s been 40-plus years, but at last that album – From Birmingham to Bakersfield – is being released. And even after all this time, ‘Lay Your Heart on Mine’ still sounds like a breakout hit.”
Victoria Hallman began her career at the age of four; recording her first record when she was six, and appearing on The Steve Allen Show while still in grammar school. She would soon open for Bob Hope, and eventually become part of Buck Owens’ touring band. Owens brought her to Hee Haw, and subsequently took her into the studio in 1981 to record a solo album.
Backed by The Buckaroos, and co-produced by Buckaroo Jim Shaw, Buck and Victoria recorded a successful album they were both happy with, but due to life and career challenges for both, fell through the cracks and disappeared. Or, so everyone thought…
In 2006, Victoria and Shaw decided to look for the tapes for the release, but they were nowhere to be found. Over a decade later, Hallman joined the Authors Guild after writing her book Hollywood Lights, Nashville Nights: Two Hee Haw Honeys Dish Life, Love, Elvis, Buck & Good Times in the Kornfield, where she was contacted by a record collector who had found an acetate with her name on it. It was the lost album!
Produced for release by Hallman, Grammy nominee Randy Poe (also author of Buck ‘Em: The Autobiography Of Buck Owens), and multi-Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski, with mastering and restoration by multi-Grammy winner Michael Graves, the release sounds as fresh as it did when it was first recorded. In addition to the album, three bonus demo tracks from 1980 are included – recorded with a band that included James Burton on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, and bassist Emory Gordy, Jr.
The packaging contains photos, ephemera, and liner notes from Poe featuring new interviews with Victoria about her career and the discovery of this lost piece of country music history. It’s coming out on vinyl especially for Record Store Day 2023, and the CD and digital will be available April 28, 2023.