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Crude and obnoxious or creative and original?

The truth is it winds up being neither though at the start you’d be willing to bet good money that it’d be one or the other if not both.

At the very least though it’s different enough that it gives us something new to consider in the career of Peppermint Harris… and yet at the same time it reinforces what we already knew.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

I’ll Tell You Everything I Know
A handful of artists we’re including in this roll call of rockers from the beginning of time are those who credibly could also be included on a similar blog for every blues record ever released from the dawn of civilization… sometimes even with a few of the same records.

Peppermint Harris was a rock act by virtue of much of his song content, all of which he wrote himself, and the musical framework he wrapped those songs in, but he didn’t completely abandon blues elements and his vocal tone and delivery often seemed to belong there rather than the more freewheeling rock genre making him one of a handful of artists who legitimately had a foot in both worlds.

That makes the decision to include certain songs a coin flip at times, especially when something like Hey Sweet Thing leans towards blues even more than usual because of the structure of the main part of the song. But it’d be a shame to exclude it entirely since he’s showing some inventiveness in how he’s framing it and considering his membership in rock circles remained in good standing and with the horn on this song acting as the primary accompaniment giving it a definite rock feel, this record has earned itself a pass.

That doesn’t mean though he’ll get any such pass for its shortcomings however.

Everything You Do I’ll Understand
The spoken word opening is designed to capture your attention… as he drops his tone and confides to you his apparent good fortune, telling us “Hey! That pretty chick is walking straight towards me!” in a low, almost incredulous, semi-whisper.

It’s endearing more than anything because not only isn’t he expecting as lucky as to have a have chance with this lovely lady, but clearly he isn’t sure what to do about it as the situation unfolds.

Unfortunately, like so many who find themselves in over their head from the start, he makes the worst decision possible, puffing out his chest and acting full of bravado, raising his voice as he addresses her directly with some “suggestions” as to what she can do to win his affections.

He still doesn’t sound confident about it as evidenced by the fact that what he’s telling her is coming from a subservient position, but he’s still trying to act out-sized to get her to notice him which of course is the very thing that will have her steer clear of him entirely.

His attitude is somewhat respectful, promising to give her everything has, but his approach is off-putting as he seems to embody the loudmouth cretin who exists in every city, town or rural prairie across the continent, the guy who thinks simply because he finds someone appealing they owe it to him to at least consider his “offer”.

The lines themselves though are fairly hollow because his pitch is built entirely on empty promises. Combine that with his bluesy diction and tone and it comes across sort of like Muddy Waters wracked by a sudden onset of self-doubt. His assertiveness is all a show and if she wants to discourage any more layabouts on the corner from crudely hitting on her she should just reach for the can of mace she keeps handy for just such an occasion and be done with it – and with him – before the chorus.

What redeems Hey Sweet Thing just a little is the conclusion in which he reverts back to the hushed speaking voice to tell us what happened while he was making a fool of himself. Not surprisingly he’s been humbled by her ignoring him completely and he had enough sense not accost her further when he realized his pitiful efforts were in vain.


I’ll Work For You
The musical side of this is probably where this can slip into the outer fringes of rock circles, though it has to be hoping nobody there will ask for stronger credentials than the bleating horns and chirpy piano that make for its primary accompaniment.

That both of those elements are featured here rather than a stark guitar or plucked bass means it’d probably have blues bloggers trying to justify its inclusion in that field by some other means were it to make their roster of records.

The piano solo is fairly interesting, almost hypnotic in a drowsy sort of way, and if barely audible drumming can be called addicting it’s this. Really, it’s kind of like a drugged up sound – a sluggish but insistent rhythmic pulse that never deviates while the piano tries distracting you from how stoned you are.

Now whether any of this is compelling is another question altogether, but it should hold your interest if nothing else.

Basically though the questions we had regarding Peppermint Harris’s musical direction before Hey Sweet Thing are only compounded after hearing this beguiling mixture of source material.

This shows he could abandon rock altogether and still earn a living in blues circles if he were to drop the horns, pick up his guitar and shift his persona to embody more of the strutting rooster mentality that bluesmen were known for.

But it was that resistance to fully adapting that profile that kept him tied to rock ‘n’ roll, for while this didn’t have the right attitude within the song for that to be a perfect match, his conceptual ideas were more in line with rock’s experimental nature and as long as he surrounded himself with musicians who were more at home in rock than pure blues then he was always going to have a seat at the table.

If you’re a girl who was invited to sit at that same table however, take my advice and either move down a few seats or claim you have an upset stomach and take a cab home so you don’t run into some other jerk on the corner who gets up the nerve to proposition you.


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