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SAVOY 848; MAY 1952



Another case of intentional mistaken identity by rock’s reigning copycat.

We can ask if there really a need for this… we can debate the sense of imitating someone else with every release you put out… we can even bring up the twisted logic of closely following an artist whose own best days are clearly behind him… but what we can’t question is the sincerity with which H-Bomb Ferguson longed to be Wynonie Harris.

Once again however he’s not content with merely sounding like him on an original song, but rather he’s attempting to blatantly re-write one of Harris’s hits while he’s at it.

So much for trying to conceal your intent.


I’m The Man To See
In 1951 Wynonie Harris enjoyed his final moments as a first tier headlining rock star.

While his notoriety would continue for a few more years – and his influence would be felt for as long as rock ‘n’ roll saw fit to have male frontmen strutting around a stage displaying swaggering cockiness and a sense of danger while exuding sexual charisma – the time where his unique singing style was at the forefront of the movement was on its last legs as Nineteen Fifty-Two dawned.

Just don’t tell that to H-Bomb Ferguson who has now attempted to turn back the clock to last year on both sides of his current single, as Hot Kisses does little to disguise its origins, just as the flip side did very little to hide where it was coming from too.

In this case the song being blatantly ripped off is Lovin’ Machine, the last Billboard hit from Harris which had been released in November 1951, though it made the charts the first week of January 1952, which I suppose makes it current in a way, though that only serves to draw even more attention to how shameless a re-write this actually is.

Unlike the top side which he didn’t write, meaning it may have been Savoy’s intent to get him to copy Harris’s prototype even more than he normally did, on this one Ferguson himself was the song thief which takes away any claim that this impersonation wasn’t fully intentional.


Close Your Eyes And Make Believe I’m There
Considering that the record on which this is based was about an elaborate form of mechanized masturbation designed by a notorious sex addict to fulfill his craven desires in between trysts and THIS song by contrast is merely about smooching, which was an act of foreplay that Wynonie had mastered by the time he was three years old, you can probably assume that it’s not going to race your motor enough to suffice.

When you then factor in the presence of a less energetic band and lyrics that don’t contain any lewd comments or grounds for prosecution for violating community decency standards AND the fact that Ferguson’s not able to add the unspoken subtext that went with the territory when it came to Harris’s reputation, you can see where this is headed.

So about all we can really hope for with Hot Kisses is a performance where H-Bomb valiantly tries to make up for those shortcomings with sheer effort and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately he does neither.

That’s not to say he exactly sounds disinterested in his task here, but he’s hardly revved up by the prospects of getting to first base with a girl when Harris is circling the bases every inning.

Even his full-volume bellowing seems designed to distract you from the weak story and mangled lyrics he’s saddled himself with. While Harris was known for tripping over lyrics himself, here I’m not entirely sure it’s accidental, as Ferguson may have wanted to replicate the overall sloppy feel of many of Harris’s tunes just to meet expectations.

The result though isn’t weirdly charming as it could be with Wynonie’s butchering of lines, but rather it’s merely clumsy and awkward when Ferguson does it, especially since the lines themselves are so uninventive even if they had been carried off without a hitch.

As if that wasn’t enough we also have to deal with the fact that on Hot Kisses he’s constantly making lip-smacking noises to get the point across which seems to lead to the band members being back on their heels trying to avoid getting a sloppy wet one planted on their own lips. That may account for why (along with a trumpet) the trombone gets an unlikely prominent solo as that’s the one horn that contains its own built-in weapon with the slide to keep any overly amorous singers at bay.

Luckily we have an even better weapon to keep H-Bomb Ferguson from accosting us, namely we can toss this record into the garbage and go back and pull Wynonie Harris’s off the shelf instead… which come to think of it, is probably what Ferguson himself would actually rather listen to as well.


I Was Trying So Hard
When he first appeared on the scene H-Bomb Ferguson was the kind of enthusiastic force of nature that we tend to be drawn to right away. After all, if you’re excited about rock ‘n’ roll as a listener you surely want the artists to be equally boisterous about it themselves.

But as he went on and the quality of the songs fell off a bit and the Harris-inspired routine began to get a little tedious, Ferguson began to seem like that crazy uncle who stops by every so often who will keep the kids entertained for an hour with inappropriate antics while driving everyone else insane.

But now with Hot Kisses he’s like the annoying house guest who just won’t take a hint and leave. He’s hanging around for hours, telling the same stories he’s told a dozen times before, droning on and on while you look at the clock and realize you’ve already missed lunch and will have no time to prepare dinner even if he heads out the door within the next seventeen seconds.

To think that all of this has happened in only six months is astonishing, but then again time flies when you’re having fun pretending you’re someone you’re not.


(Visit the Artist page of H-Bomb Ferguson for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)