Effie Smith – Harper Valley PTA Gossip

Download or Listen to Effie Smith – Harper Valley PTA Gossip from the Eee Cee Records 45

Happy Friday everyone. This is going to be a shorter post, as I am trying hard to get things together for tomorrow’s Tasty Beats: East Meets West Edition at the Annex. I have a very special guest, DJ UN-G (my old buddy), from Los Angeles, joining me on 4 turntables for some fun. Here’s a record a picked up at an Asbury Lanes Flea Market/ Record Swap off of the 45 Killer. Check out Effie Smith and “Harper Valley PTA Gossip” on Eee Cee Records out of New York City.

Effie Smith was an American singer/ comedienne who’s career spanned three decades from the 1940’s up until the 1970’s. Born in Oklahoma in 1914, a start with Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra in the 30’s led to a marriage with John L. Criner. Criner was involved with movies and a comedian himself. He was responsible for the California based Royal Record Company that had the G&G and Gem labels under their umbrella. It’s here that Smith’s solo career (after a stint with Benny Carter’s Orchestra) started, with the help of Johnny Otis. She moved around from Aladdin to Miltone to Vita (with a vocal group called The Squires), before doing sides for Decca, Shade and Spot and Specialty. Smith’s career, while long, didn’t garnish a lot of attention as far as commercial success with the charts. It wasn’t until some 20 years later that two sides “Dial That Telephone” and this side, would catch anyone’s attention. Smith, in later life was employed by Stax Records as a promo person. She would die from caner in 1977. Smith son Fred Smith was a producer and song writer, mainly for the Olympics, as well as other movie songwriting gigs.

“Harper Valley PTA Gossip” was an answer record to the Mary Jane Hooper side “Harper Valley PTA”. While Smith’s vocals are more Moms Mabley than Marva Whitney (or Mary Jane Hooper), she was the original gossip girl (“Now I don’t like to talk but….”). The back beat, and wailing Hammond in the back more than make up for Effie’s banter about the Harper Valley hypocrites. I would have been a bit more satisfied if the flip contained the instrumental, because it really smokes. Have a great weekend. Hope to see you on Saturday. Keep Diggin’!

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