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For an artist whose fate it seemed was to always be stuck between rock and blues, appealing to both audiences but belonging exclusively to neither fan base, the truth is a little more complex.

Though some of his earlier sides had leaned towards the blues he’s been increasingly focused on adhering to the rock aesthetics of the day as of late and perhaps tired of the confusion Harris set out with this unambiguous ode to the joy of sex to make sure his direction was clear with a concerted effort to rock… in every sense of the word.


Let’s Tell The World What We Found Out
I don’t have any idea what sex education was like back in 1951. I doubt most schools had it in their curriculum in any meaningful way and considering that mainstream adult entertainment at the time – be it movies, television or music – treated it as if it were either non-existent or a sterile lab experiment, it’s frankly amazing the human race propagated so thoroughly.

But then again there are some things you just can’t learn from a book or a dry lecture and nothing you may have been taught in those settings could possibly prepare you for the actual deed itself. In many ways it’d be like trying to tell a fish what mountain climbing was like, or a explaining to a hippopotamus what it was like to fly.

So then, as now, sex is something that is best learned on your own.

But not surprisingly the rigid Christianity that went largely unchallenged at the time in American society seemed to want to deny you even that pleasure, for as instinctual though it may be in theory if the entire cultural orbit you’re growing up in collectively ignores or denies its existence altogether, casts shame on it should someone bring it up, or at the very least doesn’t tout its purely physical and emotional benefits, they clearly were hoping to put an end to this wayward activity for anything other than procreation.

Of course somebody was sure to break ranks and try it for recreational purposes and then, having been enlightened on their own, would start to spread the word about it so that others may join in and explore this illicit behavior for their own edification.

Obviously that person was going to be a rock singer.

The charts would tell you that Peppermint Harris’s Let’s Ride wasn’t a hit and thus we’re led to think that nobody heard it, but that’s just typical propaganda from uptight moralists who apparently never figured out how to do it right and want to make the rest of humanity suffer for their unattractiveness.

But sex hasn’t become obsolete by now even with their spiteful efforts to snuff it out so it’s safe to say that someone out there was listening to this record after all and decided to see for themselves what all the fuss was about.

Until We Feel Good Way Down Inside
About the only thing about this record where the intent to corrupt you isn’t blatantly obvious is in the musical arrangement. With its underpowered horns and restrained beat, the mid-tempo track is made to suffer by enlisting a cadre of virgins to man the instruments, holding the song back from providing a more satisfying experience.

Harris though isn’t going to let their unwillingness to lose their inhibitions stand in the way of his good time… or in alerting you, the naïve listener who is yet to encounter these topics in your daily life, just what is in store for you once you renounce all of the hypocritical ethics heaped upon you by society.

What’s amazing about Let’s Ride is that Harris isn’t even bothering to cloak this in humorous euphemisms or deceptive allegory to pass muster with the stern-faced moral guardians sure to object to the mere idea of such a song, to say nothing of the specific content itself.

Of course he’s not first to head down this path, just this year alone The Dominoes have done so twice, first with Little Esther on the truly explicit The Deacon Moves In, which records the actual (surely simulated) sounds of the act itself, and then more commercially successfully they used a wink, a nod and a sly grin to evade banishment over Sixty Minute Man.

But this song dispenses with the elaborate plot of the former and the off-color humor of the latter and just heads straight for bed… no need wasting time by trying to mislead anyone first. I’m sure in their carefully prepared legal defense they were going to argue that “riding” was a common usage verb about conveyance… traveling to get from one place to another.

What they weren’t going to admit under oath was that the true destination was a town called Orgasm, but Harris is confident you won’t need a map to find it.

Straightforward though it is – with a tag-lines about “feeling good inside” – the song isn’t exactly dirty per say, unless you think the topic is, in which case maybe this is the wrong music site for you. It’s also not instructive… there are no lessons about WHAT to do once you’ve found a willing partner, just that you should do it if you know what’s good for you.

By the way he’s insisting upon it there’s little doubt that he’ll be successful in his own quest for sexual fulfillment and while the two sax solos show that at least one member of the band is trying to learn what this act is about on the fly, he’s got more gangly enthusiasm than is recommended for such things and is getting his feet tangled in his pants as he tries to take them off too fast so he can join in the fun.

In the end you won’t learn anything about the deed you probably couldn’t already guess, but it definitely will confirm the very thing that so many respectable people were trying to dissuade you from, which is sex is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Whether or not you want to sing about it afterwards however is a choice each of you will have to make on your own when the time comes.


I’m Cuttin’ Out, That’s All She Wrote
The continued stylistic awakening shown here is more gratifying to watch from afar than his sexual awakening within the song itself.

Both are rewarding, don’t get me wrong, but Peppermint Harris definitely still needed the kind of notoriety that a song like Let’s Ride could give him in order to be fully embraced as a rocker.

There shouldn’t have been much doubt anyway leading into this, but sometimes this is a harsh judgmental world we live in and just like many a young boy tries to have a sexual conquest to “prove he’s a man”, a singer still thought by some to be a blues act masquerading as a rocker certainly feels the need to occasionally “prove” otherwise using some rather obvious means.

Had the band behind him had the same single-minded determination he shows here there’d have been no further questions about his… ahh… musical orientation so to speak.

Even without them being fully up to the task at hand, Harris himself leaves no doubt that he’s ready for action… in rock ‘n’ roll that is.

Maybe the question will never be settled to people’s satisfaction, but behind closed doors when the lights went out the most significant notches in Peppermint Harris’s bedpost came from his rock conquests and this is no exception.


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