Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review is a February 1968 release from Norma Jean. Heaven Help The Working Girl is an interesting release, because, though it contained original material (all, except the title track were recorded in the Fall of 1967), it was released on the RCA Camden budget label, which was usually reserved for repackaged albums and albums of previously released material. Though unusual, it wasn’t unheard of, in fact, Connie Smith’s Cry Cry Cry album was the same story.
This album didn’t chart, but the title cut was her final Country 20 hit.
The album is heavy on covers, starting the with lead-off track, “What Locks the Door”, a Jack Greene hit. It’s a great composition and Norma Jean sells the song as well as Jack Greene did. Her version is slightly quicker, but pace doesn’t affect this track, at all.
“A Woman in Love” is a cover of the Bonnie Guitar hit and a superb track, here. Bright and refreshing, I think I like this version even better than the hit version.
Also falling into that bright and refreshing category is the Charlie Walker hit, “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down”. Good version, here.
Tempo slows a bit on the Bill Anderson song, “No One’s Gonna Hurt You Anymore”. A decent version with good vocal work by Norma Jean.
Side one ends with a quick-paced, classic piece of Norma Jean music, titled “Don’t Put Your Hands on Me”. This is 1960’s country at its best. How can you not like a song that uses the line, “Don’t put your hands on me, after they’ve been on her”. Classic!
Side two opens with the title track, which peaked at eighteen in early 1968, one of the earlier efforts to pay tribute to working women.
“Don’t Put Your Hurt in My Heart” is a great ballad, showing off some of the best vocal work you’ll ever hear from Norma Jean. This one really should have been a single.
The only track on this album that really didn’t do much for me is her take on the Loretta Lynn hit, “What Kind of a Girl (Do You Think I Am)”. Not bad, but it just failed to hold my attention. An indifferent feel, here.
One of the album’s best covers is Burl Ives’ “Little Bitty Tear”. Stopping just short of what I’d label a “smoker”, it’s still a hot piece, featuring some hot fiddle work. Easily the best version I’ve heard, outside the Ives hit.
The album wraps with the classic “My Elusive Dreams”, titled here, “Your Elusive Dreams”. It’s a good, solid effort to wrap this album.
This, unfortunately, is an out of print album. There was a CD with the exact same title and cover artwork, but it’s a “hits” package, not this album. Used copies on Amazon and eBay are generally running under $10. Goldmine places the value of a near-mint copy in stereo at $18, but a near-mint mono copy at $50! Mono versions of new releases were almost a thing of the past, by 1968, so it’s likely not very many mono copies of this album sold.
Overall, a great album that I can’t believe didn’t make it to the big label, RCA Victor. I don’t profess to know as to why they did this, but by doing so, I wonder how much more this album might have sold with a bigger promotional push on the big label.
Your comments are always welcome, let me know what you think.
Saving vinyl one record at a time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.