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Let’s get this out of the way to start with just so there’s no confusion.

Rock ‘n’ roll has a long history of questionable content, particularly when it comes to matters of sex.

Normally the complaints over this comes from the overly puritan views of so-called respectable society who apparently believe the one about the stork dropping them off on a doorstep rather than entertain the image of their parents fumbling around in the dark trying to figure what goes where.

In the face of such misplaced moral objections rock’s uninhibited look at carnal desire was – and is – one of its greatest attributes. Kids gotta learn about the birds and the bees somehow and why not get your early lessons while singing along to the instructions as it were?

But every so often rock acts cross a line that even the most permissive soul might find troubling and this is just such a record.


It Ain’t Like That
If that prelude didn’t get you to stick around I’m not sure what will other than using nude photos in place of the record label scans, but before you get your hopes up and then curse me for letting you down by informing you just what is objectionable about this track, let me tell you what it’s NOT.

It’s not dirty, raunchy or kinky. It’s not sexually explicit or lyrically vulgar.


Those “problems” we could not only handle, but wholeheartedly endorse. But what this record deals with is a little harder to defend as Papa Said Yes, But Mama Said No, No No is the quaint little story of a grown man lusting for a 15 year old girl.

There’s no two ways around this, but that’s illegal, immoral and indefensible in every way and the thought of praising a record centered around that subject makes us kinda queasy.

Yet aside from the topic – which is a BIG “aside from” – the rest of the song is really good, the lyrics are even kind of funny and the playing from a retinue of top notch Texas based rockers is stellar from front to back.

So this is one we’ll try and find some convenient and non-hypocritical way to justify while never actually endorsing the perspective shown by singer Lee Graves…

Or maybe you remember him as Reverend Lee Graves, which of course adds a whole ‘nuther element to this that only makes it more problematic.


I Love A Girl, She Just Turned… (Gulp)… Fifteen!
Graves was not an actual preacher as far as I know, but the only other time we met him as a singer rather than a trumpeter in Johnny Otis’s group he was enlisted to “play” a preacher on Otis’s Wedding Boogie, as the drunken lout in a backwards collar who was making wisecracks while attempting to hitch make-believe love birds Little Esther (herself just 14) and Mel Walker.

Clearly this illicit underaged romance is a trend in rock… no wonder R. Kelly had such smooth sailing during the 1990’s.

Anyway, despite being fairly atrocious on that record Graves somehow got signed to do a session by Mercury of all labels who once again were making a halfhearted effort to appeal to rock fans by drafting a handful of mostly anonymous, though talented, session musicians and thinking their records would perhaps get their company accepted in rock circles.

Needless to say it wouldn’t, though if the mainstream audience they normally courted got wind of Papa Said Yes, Mama Said No, No, No then my guess is we’d see our first mass record burning of the 1950’s taking place.

The plot – or should I say the prosecutor’s case – rests on Graves wanting to marry a girl who just turned fifteen. For some inexplicable reason the girl’s father was fine with this even telling Graves to “have your fun” and that 15 is really no different than 21.

Apparently her father was a pimp on the side.

Thankfully the girl’s mother was having none of this, fiercely resisting Graves’ plea which leads the egotistical Graves to think the real reason she objects is not because she finds statutory rape distasteful, but rather because she wants Lee for herself!

Okaaaaaay then… Maybe NONE of these people have any morals and to be fair earlier the mother tells him that one of the reasons, not the ONLY reason but an equally viable reason she’s turning him down is because he doesn’t have money.

We never do get the girl’s perspective on any of this. Whether she likes Graves, or has gone out for a date that went beyond just sharing a straw in a soda together, or if merely the thought of marriage appeals to her in a naïve sort of way (if so, maybe it’s just so she can get the hell out of her crazy parents home before they sell her off to the highest bidder!), but no matter what her feelings for this guy are, she’s obviously too young legally to make a decision.

We however are not too young to make a decision and based entirely on the written transcripts we’d turn this record down on the spot.

But when listening to it we start to be won over.

Couldn’t Stand To See Me Talk To No One Else
Part of the reason we can tolerate this a little better is because Graves is clearly presenting this in an almost farcical manner. He’s exaggerating his own seriousness about getting hitched to this teenage ingenue – as well as playing up the father’s nonchalance – for laughs as it contrasts better with the mother’s steadfast refusal.

That doesn’t let them off the hook entirely, not with so many other questions left unanswered, but at the very least enjoying Papa Said Yes, Mama Said No, No No on that level isn’t going to make you an accessory to any crime.

Further helping the record’s cause is the supporting cast, which is made up of people we know well and whose reputations are beyond question – morally yeah, but more importantly than that, musically.

The official credit for the band is Henry Hayes and His Rhythm Kings, but it’s more like a loose collection of sessionists organized by alto saxophonist Hayes which includes fellow sax star Ed Wiley, who’s gotten a number of solo releases himself, as well as Goree Carter sitting in on guitar.

Any chance to hear a pair of saxes meshing with Carter on an uptempo racy rocker is reason enough to recommend it, even if we may need to buy it wearing paper bags over our heads.

The horn section, which includes Frank Minn’s trumpet as well, are riffing nicely throughout and Wiley’s solo is really good. His tone is fantastic, gritty enough to be suggestive without resorting to crude honking and melodic enough to keep the song barreling forward while drummer Ben Turner throws in some noisy exclamation points.

Carter’s role is strictly peripheral by nature, though his sneaky fills add great texture to the sound palette along with Willie Johnson’s vibrant piano. As a backing track this is really good and Graves proves himself to be a surprisingly effective singer. If not for the questionable content we’d be proud to sing its praises a lot more loudly, but even so this is still recommended… provided you have a good lawyer on retainer.


All The Same
What’s funny about this – no, not THAT kind of funny – is Mercury Records’ role in this questionable release.

Here they are working hard to take their place among the major labels that have the respect, reputation and market dominance that more recent aspiring majors like Mercury crave, something which prompted them to follow their playbook to the letter when it came to what kind of music they focused on.

Pop acts, some light jazz and in their R&B line established artists like Dinah Washington, Steve Gibson And The Red Caps, Albert Ammons along with a host of gospel artists. But while Dinah’s sales supports that whole line singlehandedly, the rest are treading water commercially and since last year they’d scored Top Ten hits with two unmitigated rockers – Professor Longhair’s Bald Head and Alma Mondy’s racy Street Walkin’ Daddy – they figure that maybe venturing into this territory again might pay off.

But Lee Graves was hardly a fresh faced kid with unlimited promise and Papa Said Yes, But Mama Said No, No, No was anything but an acceptable release for a company with its eyes on moving up in the world.

Who knows, maybe they still had their earplugs in when recording this so they wouldn’t have to hear the noise and as a result missed the lyrics, or maybe they figured that all of rock ‘n’ roll was this morally repugnant and let it slide.

Whatever the case – maybe even because it was so unapologetic about its ribald content – this was one of their better rock efforts to date.

Just pretend you didn’t hear it from us. As always we assume no responsibility for the work of other degenerates who we might otherwise admire for purely musical reasons.


(Visit the Artist pages of Lee Graves for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)