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Still trying to find his niche after an early pure blues hit and one really solid rock offering, Peppermint Harris was now starting to lean towards rock ‘n’ roll a little more consistently without fully jumping into the fray and leaving his blues inclinations behind entirely.

Part of that is probably his upbringing and of course part is the commercial necessities of a small record label wanting to maximize their potential audience – though whether straddling fences within one song is the best way to do so is another debate altogether – but the reality is that Harris had a voice that was raw and unrefined which spoke more to blues purists, while his attitude and song structures were geared more towards rock fans.

This record puts all of Harris’s vexing stylistic issues into clear focus on a song that is appreciably better than the record, which itself is still pretty good in its own right.


Always In My Face
Peppermint Harris was 25 years old as this was released – 24 when it was laid down in the studio – and so he’s “supposed to” sound reasonably young still. Yet Harris’s stuffy baritone never sounded truly spry and because of that he always would have to work to overcome that natural obstacle whenever he aspired to take his place in a style that celebrated the behaviors and attitude of youth.


If his voice was something of a detriment for his chosen profession his writing skills were where he made up for any shortcomings elsewhere as here he takes an unusual look at a problem most men would love to be faced with in life.

Harris is embodying a character who is stating in a very mater-of-fact way that he’s a ladies man of the highest degree. Yet he’s not crowing about it exactly, more like bemused and even slightly confused by it all. Girls everywhere are urging him to Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie every time they see him – and though he doesn’t break down what they’re asking for, we don’t have to waste many guesses on it – but rather than be excited by this, he’s kind of tired of it by the sound of things.

The second stanza really stands out for the twist brought to the title line as he asks, (facetiously I’m guessing) just who this guy “Gimmie” is (as if it were a man’s name) that all the girls are seeking. Yet for as clever as it is on paper, Harris’s voice isn’t able to sell the pun in the manner it richly deserves.

Admittedly it’s not the easiest trick to pull off, but for those who can (Chuck Berry comes immediately to mind) it never fails to work brilliantly and to know Harris was aiming for something just out of his grasp makes you feel bad he wasn’t able to nail it effortlessly. When he tackles the problem this is causing in his own relationship next, admitting he feels used by her when all she wants is sex out of him, it’s a rare example of someone turning a familiar complaint by women completely on its head, something commendable in its audacity if nothing else.

The one real complaint from a writing standpoint is the song is far too short, ending at just two minutes flat. Had he wrapped things up with something profound by critiquing the priorities of human relations in the big picture, or even just given an explanation as to why he feels this way that might be worth another grin, it’d feel like a more complete statement. But for a comparative blurb this is still something to appreciate for what it does deliver.


All I Ever Hear
Not to keep harping on the same topic when assessing an entirely different aspect of the record but it’s hard to deny that Peppermint Harris’s vocal limitations didn’t impact the musical arrangement all of his songs were given.

Though the two things appear at a glance to operate independently of one another, they’re inextricably tied. You build an instrumental track to highlight a singer’s strengths, sometimes to obscure a singer’s flaws, but almost always to compliment a singer’s chosen approach for each tune.

But Harris is ill-equipped for the lighter more frivolous tone Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie would benefit from and so the musicians are forced to stick to a more measured backing to not throw him off course.

They do it well though, Willie Johnson’s piano getting the lion’s share of the responsibility, both in establishing the boogie rhythm behind Harris’s vocals and then getting a somewhat rare soloing opportunity in lieu of a sax break.

You can argue whether it might’ve been more appropriate to let the saxophone have a crack at this, since the sax can grind as well as honk and squeal which might’ve drawn attention to the lyrical questions it was raising, but you can’t really complain about Johnson’s work on the keys. He lets his left hand hold down the song’s bottom like an anchor while his right hand shows admirable dexterity in bringing a livelier feel to the record in the meantime.

Still there’s only so much you can do without upsetting the balance and in the end you’re grateful they were respectful of this and kept it within reasonable parameters even if you almost wish they would’ve pushed things a little further to see what might happen.

Leave This Place?
It’s a hard thing to criticize somebody for their natural attributes without coming off sounding cruel and thoughtless. Peppermint Harris did the best with what he had to work with and the best was good enough to give him a bunch of hits and a lasting career… and to be fair a lot of really good music.

But Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie, while certainly qualifying as “really good”, could’ve been really great in somebody else’s hands… someone who sounded younger, more vibrant with a wickedly sly undercurrent to sell the best aspects of the song and give the band more freedom to raise the stakes along with that change.

With his recent shift to focusing more on typical rock attributes he’s definitely improved upon his earlier, far more ambiguous, outings and while Harris might not have the highest ceiling as a performer in any field due to lacking the one attribute that would put him over the top, he makes up for it by excelling at the rest of his job and that’s about all you can ask for in the end no matter what style someone chooses.


(Visit the Artist page of Peppermint Harris for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)