Classic Album Review-Wilma Burgess “Don’t Touch Me”
We are ending the week with a 1966 album release from a lady, now largely forgotten in country music. Orlando, Florida’s Wilma Burgess enjoyed a brief time in the spotlight, beginning with her first hit, “Baby”, in 1966. Four more titles would reach the top forty before the end of 1967, but afterwards, Wilma would fade quickly, only to briefly come back with the 1974 hit “Wake Me Into Love”, a duet with former Jim Reeves band member, Bud Logan.
For those who’ve never heard Wilma, she had a voice that was truly unlike any other before, or since. It was kind of a husky voice, with a touch of twang. Her phrasing is a bit similar to that of Patsy Cline, though overall, I really cannot think of anyone who sounds even remotely like her.
Today’s album, “Don’t Touch Me”, was Wilma’s first album release, hitting the market in May, 1966. It would peak at number three on the bestseller lists, and included two hit singles.
Opening the disc is the title cut, “Don’t Touch Me”, which was also Wilma’s second hit single. A hit single that just missed the top ten, yet would have surely been an even bigger hit, had not Jeannie Seely’s version been charting at the same time. Jeannie’s version is my favorite, yet, Wilma’s version is very good. A tempo that is just slightly quicker, as well as just a slightly fuller arrangement is the main difference between the Wilma Burgess and Jeannie Seely versions of this song.
“Wait Till The Sun Comes Up” is a smooth, bouncy track that is a Hidden Gem contender. A good track that surprisingly hasn’t gotten more exposure over the years.
Next, Wilma takes a track from the collection of Bill Anderson, giving us a version of “Think I’ll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep”. There are many versions of this song; Wilma’s would actually rate as one of the better ones, in my opinion. Not overly produced, her vocals are allowed to carry the track. And the same can be said of the next track, again a Bill Anderson classic, “I Love You Drops”.
“Welcome To My World” is next, and again, Wilma delivers a nice, solid version of the Jim Reeves hit.
Side one wraps with the Hank Williams classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. It’s interesting to note, that the arrangement sounds very much like the version some ten years later by Terry Bradshaw (yes, the hall of fame quarterback). Wilma sings it with a bit quicker pace than most versions. I can’t say it’s my favorite version, but it’s not bad. It might be keyed just a bit high, though.
Side two opens with the track that provided Wilma with her first charts success, the top ten “Baby”. This is a great track, providing a perfect vocal for Wilma’s vocals. It’s one of those tracks that immediately grab your attention and holds it until the last note is played. Soft, intimate, outstanding.
I’m also liking “Turn Around Teardrops”, another nice, bouncy track that is yet another Hidden Gem contender. It has one of those refrains that has a high possibility of getting stuck in your head if you listen to it very much.
“Someone Before Me”, a hit for the Wilburn Brothers, gets a pretty decent treatment by Wilma Burgess, as well. A little slower than the original, not a bad version.
On “You Can’t Stop My Heart From Breaking”, one gets the feeling of a power ballad, a term not coined until years later, but appropriate, here. The arrangement is fuller and heavier than the rest of the disc, giving the track a sound more similar to Patsy Cline or Brenda Lee’s works of that era. While I wouldn’t rank Wilma quite in the same league, vocally, as those two, the overall effect comes off pretty well, actually. The song, itself, is well written, also.
It’s a similar situation with “The Closest Thing To Love”. Again, a fuller arrangement, which often muddies a recording, but on occasions, and this is one of them, actually enhances a recording. A nice, mid tempo track.
The album’s final track is a cover of the Bonnie Guitar hit, “I’m Living In Two Worlds”. A nice cover of this ballad, which provides a good ending to this album.
Copies of this album can be found from time to time, in flea markets and used record shops. I did find a few copies, online, in the price range of $15 to $30, though I did see one listed for $5.
The Standout Cut of this album, for me, is “Baby”. Great track. As for the Hidden Gem, I’m going with “Turn Around Teardrops”. I really don’t think I can give a Weakest Track, as there’s really not a bad track on the disc. Some are better than others, but none that I can really consider weak.
Overall, this is a good album by a largely forgotten artist. Definitely one to consider if you are looking for something a little different to add to your collection. I rate it a 4.5 out of 5.
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