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Ahh, another tale of spurned love rearing its jealous head…

No, not in the song, but rather the release of the record itself, as this is the first time Peppermint Harris’s OLD label, Sittin’ In With, has put out a “new” record after he moved to the larger independent Aladdin and gave them a huge national hit while on their honeymoon together.

Now Harris’s old flame is left to furtively follow the new couple on their dates around town, skulking about in the shadows and occasionally telling disinterested onlookers that “they” once were an item themselves.

This kind of messy breakup is never easy to see but while the company was clearly hoping to capitalize on their ex-artist’s rising fame it was probably best to simply move on and find somebody new.


Now I’m Wondering What Will Become Of Me
In the months following a divorce of this kind it’s natural to be bothered by your former flame quickly finding a new suitor and it’s probably common to think that you were the better catch, all things considered.

But are you really looking in the mirror and judging your value honestly, or are you exaggerating your better qualities and downplaying your flaws and deficiencies?

In the case of Sittin’ In With, all they had to do to walk away from the split with their head held high was to let the facts speak for themselves… how they’d helped to position Peppermint Harris as an artist with commercial promise in two separate fields – rock ‘n’ roll and blues (the flip side of this, I Screamed And I Cried, falling in the latter category) – in the process giving Harris a track record that a larger company like Aladdin would want for themselves as soon as he became available.

That was one of the risks of a smaller label with less money for session fees, promotion and distribution… you could break an artist but rarely keep them because not only was the money greater elsewhere (although that was not always the case because as we know bigger companies were much more brazen about not paying the artists’ songwriting or sales royalties) but mainly because the larger company had the means to perpetuate that success thanks to higher musical standards.

Which is why it might not be the smartest thing for Sittin’ In With to issue a record like I Always End Up Blue while his terrific I Got Loaded was residing on charts from coast to coast.

One listen to this crude sounding record would make even the biggest supporter of his years with his old label thankful that he’d gone someplace where Maxwell Davis resided, giving him the kind of arrangements that helped, not hurt, Harris’s cause.

Drunk And Staggering
In many ways – not just comparing it to the Aladdin cut released earlier this summer – this sounds like a demo session.

For starters Harris’s vocals are semi-distorted, but whether this is due to the acoustics in the room, the microphone quality or bad levels on the control board… or even his distance from the microphone… it sounds sonically submerged which might work to its advantage if the song was something that could justify the more mystical presentation. Instead this is a very broad, generic catch-all complaint about life… no details givens, no colorful anecdotes offered and no surprises in the limited story.

Harris is just sort of yelling at clouds here, cursing his meager existence without purpose. The lyrics are pretty basic stuff and hardly inventive enough to spend much time contemplating them which means the musical side of the equation is going to have its work cut out for it just to make up the difference stemming from his murky vocals and lackluster performance.

Unfortunately the musicians are just as disinterested in this song as Harris seems to be as this may rate as one of the most simplistic arrangements we’ve heard on record as the horns play a plodding refrain endlessly. Maybe you can argue that it goes well with the dour outlook, but then again there’s a saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar and the same is true for music… putting bleak thoughts across with music that seems to taunt that mindset by being uplifting is sure to catch your attention more than doubling down on the monotony.

Surely something else will come along to lighten the mood some and on cue we get a piano solo… although maybe that’s giving it too much credit as for a lot of the time it’s a two finger job tickling some treble keys as if they had a nagging itch. The lead horn tries contributing a counterpoint but they really aren’t offsetting one another, more like simply existing in the same plane.

As a result this is a hard record to get into, one that we can only hope was released simply because Sittin’ In With had few options left since Harris wasn’t recording there any more and by issuing it now they could possibly accomplish two goals – get a few sales while his name was hot and… ruin his career and stick it to their foes at Aladdin by presenting him in such an unflattering manner.


Everywhere I Go And Everything I Do
Let’s hope Peppermint Harris was too busy enjoying his stardom and the extra bucks it was bringing in from touring to be bothered much by his old label tossing this into a sea of indifference now that he was on top of the world.

But since it WAS his song, his composition and his voice coming out of those speakers on I Always End Up Blue we can’t let him off the hook for it and this has to go down as among the worst singles of his career.

Had he remained with the company and they put this out while he was cutting new – and presumably better – tracks, then we’d have more reason to complain, but even cutting them a little slack for having no choice but to eat its costs altogether or to try and earn some belated money back for wasting time and tape on such an endeavor we can’t bring ourselves to find much good to say about it.

But since Harris sounds so miserable throughout the record maybe it won’t be putting too much more on his plate to say that if this is what we can expect if Sittin’ In With keeps exhuming its vault, let’s pool our money together and pay to have that vault door welded shut.


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